Wednesday, January 30, 2013

One Tired Puppy; An Awards Dinner; A Navy Blimp; Call the SPCA! Ride ‘Em Cowboy!


Rudy is now 8 years old, 56 years old in people years, and "officially" no longer a puppy. That’s why he can be forgiven for “crashing” at the end of a hard day of traveling without his normal napping. I think at this moment he must have been dreaming of chasing squirrels, because his little legs would twitch every now and then as if he were running... and of course he likes to lie on our clothes because of the smells... 

My Lovely Bride and I had the pleasure of hosting the latest Geo-Quiz Award Winners for dinner Tuesday evening. Peter and Carole Lee, and Bob and Jan Blythe joined us for Dendrobranchiata, Solanum melongena, and Prunun avium. What, you’ve never heard of those names? Well, you have probably eaten them... shrimp (served with New Orleans Remoulade sauce), eggplant (baked with ziti, Kalamata olives and marinara sauce), and Bing cherries (Jubilee). The Lees and Blythes were great fun, but during dinner, I learned from Peter that he had used a reverse photo identification program on the Internet to get his answers.... Hiss-Boo! I tried to hold back his dessert, but Suzanne said that that would be rude.... Peter and Carole are from Wisconsin. That's another place in The Frozen North. We were there once (by accident), but heard that you can tell someone is a Cheesehead if their snowblower gets stuck on the roof in June.

While walking in our local town square, I glanced up and spotted this US Navy blimp flying over Lake Sumter. There are two possible reasons for its flight here. The first is that the US Navy is having trouble recruiting, and is looking for retired US Navy personnel here in The Villages to return to active duty. (Sign me up!) The second possible reason may be related to recent reports of Communist Chinese submarine ballistic missile launches off the California coast; perhaps the blimp was making sure that Lake Sumter was free of those threats. 

I received an email today that shocked me. So-called “friends” of ours (I shouldn't mention their names, but their initials are Sharon and Joyce) altered my photo of Rudy and Gretchen and “morphed” black socks onto their feet. This attempt at “black humor” was intended to poke fun at Your Faithful Correspondent’s somewhat embarrassing “fashion malfunction” on Saturday (see the blog post below). I was not amused. In fact, I lodged an irate complaint with the SPCA, but the lady on the phone didn’t appear to be taking me seriously. Maybe I’ll have to contact People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) instead...   

Finally, Corvette Chick and I got back out onto the Withlacoochee State Trail again on Wednesday for a 30 mile bike ride. There were two highlights. The first came when Suzanne had to beg for mercy due to my blinding speed after 25 miles. (Having lowered her rear tire pressure to 25 psi instead of its normal 105 psi really helped me!) The second highlight was showing off my superb bull-riding technique on Wild Thang, an almost unbroken wild steer.... okay, so it was the Central Florida version of a 1,500 lb. killer bull, kinda-sorta a bull substitute in the kids playground, named Tony the Tortoise. Anyway, I had a blast, I rode for more than the 8 second minimum, and he didn’t throw me... too hard... more than twice...



Sunday, January 27, 2013

Alabama Parking Hall of Shame; Not a Dune Buggy? A Very Big Bridge! Looking for Shade? Manatee Medics


My brother-in-law Brent Smeltzer sent me this photo of a parked car in Montgomery, Alabama. When he told me the circumstances, I was somewhat concerned about his regard for his personal safety. While he was taking the photo, a very large gentleman came out and asked, “Why you takin’ that?”  Brent replied, “I have never seen anyone take up FOUR parking spaces with one car before!” The guy answered, “Well, another car was there before.” Brent laughed, and the Big Guy smiled and said, “Have a blessed day.”  (That's sure better than getting smacked!) 








Our “Good Friend” Chris Lavender sent me a useful email today. Having read about my misadventure with burying The Bus up to the axles in sandy dirt, she offered this very helpful information: “DUNE BUGGY - A dune buggy is a recreational vehicle with large wheels and wide tires, designed for use on sand dunes, beaches, or desert recreation. It is called a beach buggy in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and many other English-speaking countries. The design is usually a modified vehicle and engine mounted on an open chassis. Modifications usually attempt to increase the power-to-weight ratio by either lightening the vehicle, increasing engine power, or both."  Chris then included the two very helpful photos below with caption.  (Thank you, Chris; you just got dropped from my Christmas card list.)


Dune Buggy; not to be confused with RV



We have driven over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay on eight separate occasions, and it always impresses us. The Skyway was completed in 1987, replacing an older bridge built in the 1950s and partly destroyed when hit by a ship. It is considered one of the Top Ten bridges in the world. One of the most interesting bridge-related incidents occurred in 1997 when a group of amateur daredevils, led by a Fort Lauderdale bartender, performed an unauthorized “mass guerilla pendulum swing bungee jump” after debarking from their stretch limo at the apex of the bridge. Unfortunately, they failed to accurately engineer their bungee cable, and the cable parted when they were still 60 feet above the water. Luckily, there were only severe injuries and no fatalities. (Do you think alcohol may have been involved that night?)

While in Sarasota, we noticed a very helpful sign for people who were overheated by the subtropical sun; in this case, either overhanging trees or perhaps large umbrellas at the next intersection... how thoughtful!   










Speaking of signs, we had just crossed the Manatee River and were driving through Bradenton, Florida, when this sign for Manatee Memorial Hospital grabbed my attention. I had no idea that there were so many injured or sick manatees that a three story hospital was required to nurse them back to health. Since manatees often weigh over 1,000 lbs., I wondered how many heavy duty elevators must be required to move them from the ER to surgery to a semi-private room and then to physical therapy...  and then there are the bedpan issues... Yuck!



Saturday, January 26, 2013

To S.O.A.R! in Sarasota; Caught by the Fashion Police; A Walk in the Park; Fishermen Lie! Two Kisses


The second event of our trip to Sarasota was Suzanne’s S.O.A.R! Workshop, held on Saturday. She had 15 enthusiastic attendees, and the Sarasota Center of Light was filled with Love all day.  








I got a 5 miler in that morning... normally I wear regular white gym socks with my sneakers, but I had forgotten to pack them. I had to wear black dress socks, but knew that no one that I knew would see me here in Sarasota. I forgot to take them off as soon as I returned to The Bus, and was caught by My Lovely Bride on camera who came out to see me on the morning break... she had no mercy, even after I begged her not to snap that photo. Sigh... 








Rudy and Gretchen made cameo appearances after lunch, and were a hit. They were on their best behavior since they were in church. There were lots of dog people there, so they received plenty of attention.










The puppies were then ready for a w-a-l-k in t-o-w-n. Here they are with their leads on, looking forward to a chance to chase squirrels in a new town. We couldn’t find any in the neighborhood around SCoL, so we diverted to the ville by car. 










After coffee for Dad at Simon’s Coffee Shop, we stopped at the Edson Keith Estate on Phillippi Creek. The Italian Renaissance style house was a private residence of Edson Keith, part of Sarasota’s “Chicago Colony”, and was built in 1916. The property was bought in 1939 by Chicago doll clothes designer Mae Hansen Prodie, and was operated as a luxury inn by her husband in the 1950s. It was acquired after her death by Sarasota County as a park site. 






While touring the grounds, we stopped and talked to these two kayak fishermen. I asked the older guy if they had caught anything. He said, poker-faced, “Of course, 12 grouper, eight tarpon, and four walleye.” I replied, “Wow, that is great. You are either (a) the world’s best fish filet’er, to have gotten all those fish in that tiny cooler, or (b) the world’s most gracious “catch and release” fisherman, or (c) the world’s worst fishing liar.” His son choked with mirth.





When I had left The Bus for our recon trip to town, I had left a couple of bottles of spring water on the inside step for My Lovely Bride during her workshop's afternoon break, since we would be away for several hours. I was not surprised to find them gone, but I was delighted to find these two Silver Bells, AKA Hershey’s Kisses, on a plate in place of the water. She is so sweet! Thank you, Sweetheart... 

Friday, January 25, 2013

A North Dakota Bathing Beauty; In a Hole? A Movie Showing in Sarasota


You may recall the other day when I had sent our friend Connie in North Dakota a photo of our beautiful, warm winter here in Central Florida. I made the mistake of suggesting that it was very cold in her part of The Frozen North. Connie let me know in short order that it wasn’t cold at all up there. This photo was taken in toasty warm, sunny, - 4F weather with frozen Devil’s Lake in the background. You folks up there in North Dakota are either very hardy... or very CRAZY!  






When the term “in a hole” comes up, what do you think about? Maybe having more debt that savings? Being “underwater” with a mortgage? Or forgetting your anniversary or your wife’s birthday? Yep, all of those are valid, but nothing really matches what we experienced today when our 40 foot long, 36,000 lb Class A motor coach sank up to its axles in soft dirt in a vacant lot in Sarasota. “What the heck were you doing there?” Hey, I heard that! We were invited to park there! 

We have pulled into dirt campgrounds about 25 times over the past 2 years with The Bus, and never once had a problem. What we didn’t know was that the lot in question had once hosted a house, and when the house was removed, bulldozers tore up the ground pretty badly, but then dozed it flat, so it was sort of like from hard-packed dirt (the old front yard in question) into a sandbox (where the house had stood). This all happened in about a minute and a half. Now you’re moving, now you’re stuck. As I stood looking at our now immobile home, a few choice “Sailor Words” escaped my lips. My Lovely Bride kept repeating, “Isn’t that interesting... Isn’t that interesting... Isn’t that interesting...” 

We tried digging, we tried putting wood blocks under the wheels, we tried rocking forward and back, but nothing worked. I kept hearing this voice in my head saying, "That sucker ain't goin' nowhere, Boy!" 






Then Good Fortune smiled upon us in the form of a 6’ 4” 220 lb. former Army infantryman named Josh Wren, who had us out after almost two hours of digging and pulling and filling. Oh, I forgot to mention, Josh also brought a "friend", an industrial-sized tow truck. For the guys (and gals) who are interested in the details, Josh's truck has a 1000 ft cable that runs from his enormous winch atop the tow truck to an equally enormous tow strap that fits around The Bus' axle. While setting up, he related his 5 hour adventure yesterday of pulling a loaded semi a quarter mile out of the woods back to the highway. 




Pulling us out 75 feet back to the street wasn't easy, including fairleading the cable to a tree, but it wasn't his most challenging task to date. Josh is pretty good at his job, because he puts in 80 hours a week.  In the hours he spent with us today, he had to dig with a shovel and wriggle under the bus numerous times.  He was covered in dirt from head to toe by the time he finished, but he smiled the whole time.  We were very grateful for his hard work and skills. 



We were finally able to park on nice, thick cement slab for the night, and set up right across the street from The Sarasota Center of Light. The church's marquee was a welcome sight. When we had a chance to sit down and relax over pizza and a glass of very nice Coppola Rosso (Thank you, Sharon and Joyce!), we decided that today's experience was a learning opportunity in preparation for our upcoming Alaskan Adventure this summer, where help might not be so readily available.


Fortunately, our Messages of Hope documentary went much better than my initial parking job. This was our second visit to the Sarasota Center of Light. We were met by SCL's delightful Pastor Tom Newman, who introduced Suzanne. The documentary was very well received, with lots of questions and book signings after the showing. Suzanne will also present her S.O.A.R! Workshop on Saturday. 














Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Halo Around Sun; A Wet Prairie; A Hard Lake; A Curbed Comedian; "Heroic" Music


You may have noticed the halo around the sun on Tuesday afternoon. Halos (also known as nimbus, icebows, or glorioles) are produced by the refraction and reflection of sunlight in ice crystals in cirrus clouds in the troposphere (3-6 miles above the earth). Halos are not portents of disasters to come. They may be a predictor of rain, since cirrus clouds sometimes precede a warm front passage, but in this case, it appears to be simply a result of ice crystals in the atmosphere. But it's still pretty cool!

While running some errands yesterday, I parked the car at the drugstore and walked across the parking lot to Petco to replenish our doggie toothpaste. When I returned 5 minutes later, My Lovely Bride was being a smarty-pants by sitting on the curb, looking bored and fatigued from having to wait for me. She evidently thinks she’s a comedian.... 






This photo was taken behind our newest country club here in The Villages, Evans Prairie. It was another gorgeous Florida winter day, about 67F. I sent this photo to our friend Connie in North Dakota to remind her that she needs to visit down here more often. The high temp in Fargo is supposed to be 0F today, and the low tonight - 22F. You know what they say about North Dakota weather? There are four seasons: Winter, Still Winter, Not Winter, and Almost Winter... So bundle up! 

By the way, you will please note that it is with great joy that I am being nice to Minnesotans of late. I no longer refer to their lovely state as being part of The Frozen North, even though it is hard not to remind everyone that the temperature last night in Embarrass, Minnesota, was a very brisk - 38F, which isn’t really so bad; that’s only 80 degrees colder than it was in The Villages, but who is counting? Speaking of Embarrass, their record is - 54F... we actually hope to make it there this summer, because it’s very close to Ely, MN, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a destination on Ty’s Bucket List. Here is a current webcam shot of Shagawa Lake near Ely... now let’s see, maybe by summer the Coast Guard icebreakers will have cleared a channel through the ice for our kayaks... so we're inviting our friends from The Villages to join us for a picnic at this lake; details to follow.

Lastly, for those who think that The Villages is just a golfing and retirement community... I'll have you know that "We Got Culture!"  Last night was a classical music treat; we enjoyed a superb concert by The Villages Philharmonic Orchestra performing two Mozart pieces and Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony, Eroica. Many of the musicians hailed from Italy and France, as well as all across the US. We just happened to be sitting next to a couple of former sailors who now had an RV like ours, so we had a lot to talk about before the concert began. They were remarking how wonderful the weather was here. I asked them where they were from, and coincidentally, they moved here from Minneapolis, Minnesota...  




Monday, January 21, 2013

Quiz Winners; White Pelicans; Freezing in Florida?

It is with great pleasure that I announce the latest Photo Quiz Winners: Peter Lee and Bob & Jan Blythe. Here are the correct answers to the quiz:

1. Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception located in downtown Saigon, Vietnam. (Now known to some as Ho Chi Minh City, but I refuse to use that name). 

2. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius; winters in the SE US, but summers in Alaska, Canada, and the NE USA).

3. King Farouk of Egypt. Upon his coronation at age 16, Farouk made a public radio address to the nation, the first time a sovereign of Egypt had ever spoken directly to his people in such a way. He was the last monarch of Egypt.


4. The rock formations are called hoodoos and they are at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. (Hoodoos are typically formed where a thick layer of soft rock, like sandstone, is covered by a thin layer of a harder rock, such as basalt or limestone. In France, they are called demoiselles coiffees [ladies with hairdos].)

5. The iron clad ship USS Cairo was a Union ship in the Civil War and is currently on display at the Vicksburg National Military Park, Vicksburg, Mississippi. 



6. This young woman (could it be Mae West's granddaughter?) is kissing the famous Blarney Stone at Blarney Castle in Ireland. (The Blarney Stone is part of the battlements of Blarney Castle; before the handrails and protective crossbars were installed, you had to hang upside down with a friend holding your feet, risking a drop of sixty feet or so; not for the faint of heart!)

7. The CN Tower, an 1815 ft concrete communications and observation tower in downtown Toronto, Canada. The lights are turned off during the spring and autumn bird migration seasons to comply with the voluntary Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP).

8. Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, formerly named the Custis-Lee Mansion, is located on the hill at the top of Arlington National Cemetery. Gen. Robert E. Lee and his wife Mary Anna Randolph Curtis lived there for 30 years.


9. Annie Oakley (born Phoebe Ann Moses). She beat Frank Butler by one point in a sharp shooting contest in Cincinnati, OH before they were married. (She is one of the most remarkable women in US history; I recommend you Google her and read her complete biography at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annie_Oakley) .


10. “Portrait of Andrea Doria as Neptune” painted by Angelo Bronzino (Birth name: Angelo di Cosimo di Mariano). On July 25, 1956 the ocean liner Andrea Doria collided with the MS Stockholm off Nantucket and sank with the loss of 56 lives.


The Lees and the Blythes win an all-expense paid visit to Das Blogmeisterhaus in The Villages for dinner. Chefs Suzanne and Ty will prepare something (hopefully edible) for their culinary pleasure. Musical entertainment may be provided by Corvette Chick if her bass flute is tuned up; otherwise Ty will consider singing. (Now that is a sobering thought.)


While riding my trusty bike around The Villages, I spied this group of American white pelicans (Pelicanus erythrorhynchos) swimming and foraging in the lake across from Hacienda Rec Center. They are the first group of that species of pelican that I've seen here. White pelicans differ from their brown cousins in that they do not plunge dive for fish; rather, they swim in a line or half-circle, beating their wings to herd fish toward the shore. 

The white pelican has a wingspan of 9 feet, making them second only to the California Condor in wingspan. Males grow a fibrous plate on the upper portion of their beaks during mating season.  (No comment; I couldn't think of anything appropriate.) Here in Florida, they are most often found at the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island and at the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in the Indian River Lagoon. 



So who is freezing in Florida? According to the National Weather Service, the Sunshine State is having a bit of a heat wave, with temperatures in the 70s here in The Villages, a few degrees above the normal high of 68. Today My Lovely Bride had seven of her friends over for a group reading. We normally keep our house about 73F, and when Suzanne said, “Sweetheart, I’m going to make it a little cooler because we’ll all be in our study, and it gets warm in there pretty quickly”, I didn’t think anything of it. I kept working at the kitchen table, and only realized about 45 minutes later that my hands were turning blue. Maybe I’d better shift from tee shirt and shorts to blue jeans and Polartec... and 15 minutes after that, out came the gloves and ski cap... I think the temp bottomed out around 38F, but I’m not sure because my chattering teeth distorted my vision. 


 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

“Oh, Wilbur....” Grilling or Ice Fishing? A Goofy Girl; A Fast Ride; A Gourmet Dinner; Hooters!

One of the most serious (and potentially fatal) errors a guy can make is calling his girlfriend/wife by the wrong name while kissing her.  Imagine my shock when My Lovely Bride, after kissing me this morning, murmured, “Oh, Wilbur...” “WILBUR??? Who the hell is Wilbur?” I asked.  She replied, “Well, Silly, it’s the guy whose chocolate you just ate, you know, the ones that Terri sent you!” Abjectly, I muttered,“Oh. Well, I guess that’s okay, then.” (Thanks again to our friend Terri of the Frozen North for introducing me to Wilbur Chocolates and stimulating another very embarrassing blog entry.) 


Speaking of The Frozen North, in the spirit of my laying off Minnesota for awhile, here is a recent photo for Connie in North Dakota, along with others suffering through a long, dark, cold, snow-swept winter. This is Your Gleeful Grillmeister about to put a couple of ribeyes on the grill on our lanai. The temp here was 68F; as you read this blog, the temp in Fargo, ND is probably about -2F. That’s a 70 degree difference! 







Are you guys crazy up there? Don’t you know that birds migrate south for the winter? Bears find a cave and hibernate. You folks drive onto a frozen lake, cut a hole, and try to catch fish fingers, all while attempting to avoid frostbite and hypothermia. I think this guy has been frozen in place for a few days.... does it look like he's having fun?

Okay, here's the deal... for a couple of hundred bucks, you can go to Disney on two consecutive days. But wait... you also have to run 39 miles over those two days, and the temp is up around 80F with 90% humidity. Where is the sign-up list for this good deal? It's called the Goofy Challenge, and Suzanne's Lovely Niece Michelle thought it would be great fun. She completed both days - a half marathon, or 13.1 miles on Saturday, and a full marathon, or 26.2 miles on Sunday. Michelle is also thinking about an Ironman (140 miles) in a couple of years. OOH-RAH Michelle! We are so proud of you. Look at all that gold and silver!






On Saturday afternoon, Corvette Chick decided to try to wear out Her Loving Husband, and suggested a little bike ride on the Withlacoochee State Trail, a "rails to trails" bike path that runs for 46 miles. We started at the cute Florida town of Inverness, but only did 25 miles. (I was whooped, but CC was in rare form as she rode behind me, asking, "Can't you go a little faster?") She looks pretty fresh here at the WST Caboose, and this was at the end of the ride. 


We had the great privilege of dining with Cheryl and Mike Breault at their house last night. Cheryl is a gourmet cook, and prepared shrimp and andouille sausage gumbo that would be the envy of any New Orleans restaurant. Her pecan pie was also made from scratch, and "to die for". The lighting in this photograph is a bit strange... that's because Mike is a former US Navy submariner who now teaches nuclear power plant operators the skills of their trade; I had heard that he and other nukes "glowed in the dark", but this was the first time I actually observed that phenomenon. On the bright side (no pun intended... well, maybe just a little one), Mike is also an oenophile... no, he is not weird about "oens"... he is a wine enthusiast! His wine cellar is superb, and we benefited from his expertise. (Don't get the wrong impression by the four bottles on the table; one was a pepper grinder, and we sampled the others to see which would go best with the gumbo!)


Now our male readers will be waking up, because they read “Hooters!” in the title line. A few years ago, My Lovely Daughter Elisabeth worked briefly at a Hooters restaurant. We were visiting her in North Carolina, and got to meet many of her co-workers. Suzanne stayed very close to me while we were there... but not so close that she interfered with the presentation of a neat Hooters tee-shirt, inscribed with notes from all the girls. It was a great day! (Just in case you are eyesight-challenged, it reads, "Ty, I heard you're very hot and sexy. Come and visit soon. Love, Holly   xoxo").   Those Hooters girls (Chelsea and Holly here) are not only cute, but also very smart and discerning!  Eat your hearts out, guys! (I only just discovered this shirt today after several years; I think My Lovely Bride may have hidden it away in a drawer where I couldn't find it, but I can't be sure.)















Friday, January 18, 2013

Photo Quiz Part 5; Guess Who Came to Dinner? Fado? Afrayed?


Well, Happy Quizzers, it’s the last installment of the January Photo Quiz. Below are Photos #9 and #10. Take your time, because entries aren’t due until 6:00 PM EST Sunday evening. Remember that if you can’t identify one (or some, or all) of the photos, be imaginative and make up answers. You can still win!



Photo #9: This woman married the man whom she beat in a contest. Who is she, and what was the contest?  












Photo #10: What is the name of this painting, who is the painter, and what does it have to do with Nantucket? (Hint: the painting is hanging in a gallery in Milan, Italy.) 















Friday evening was a lot of fun; after some scheduling challenges, we were able to enjoy the company of the last quiz winners for dinner here at Casa Giesemann. Here are Chris Lavender, Bobbie Crichton, Sharon Curry, and Joyce Dotterweich; dinner included Shrimp Remoulade and Portobello Sausage Pesto Pasta. There was great conversation and lots of laughs (many at my expense, courtesy of My Lovely Funny Bride).




And of course dessert... Your Humble Correspondent prepared his Mom's Famous Cherries Jubilee. Oh, yes, and there were a couple of decently drinkable Pinot Noirs as well... (No eyebrows were singed during the preparation of this dessert! Unfortunately, the flames were invisible because of the electronic flash... bummer.)









Word for the Day: fado n. a Portuguese music form, characterized by sadness and a permanent feeling of loss; from Latin fatum, source of English fate. (Painting by Jose Malhoa (1910). Fado is characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a characteristic sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia. (yes, that is me on the right, in a previous lifetime...)







Winter has arrived here in The Villages, and I grabbed an old pair of khaki slacks instead of shorts this morning to walk Rudy and Gretchen. I looked down, and noticed that the slacks were frayed at the bottom. I wondered, does that make them “scaredey-pants”? (I can hear My Lovely Bride groaning now...)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eggs By Any Other Name; Scrimshander; Photo Quiz Part 4; An Ironman; A Time Bomb or Wilbur’s Buds?

Yesterday’s egg photo evidently stirred some childhood memories from friends... in addition to my Toads in Holes (New Orleans) and Suzanne’s Peek-a-Boo Eggs (Pennsylvania), we heard from Gayle (Eggs in a Basket, So. Maryland), Libby (One Eyed Egyptian, Miami, FL) and Lynn (Eggs in a Nest, No. Carolina). Libby also added the note that maybe that’s where they got the expression “round eggs in square holes”..... thanks to everyone for the inputs.
Our Word for the Day: scrimshander, n. someone who makes carved or engraved articles from the teeth or bones of whales. [Mid-19th C. Formed from a variant of scrimshaw.]  Our word of the day caught me by surprise, because I’ve actually met two scrimshanders, but didn’t know that was their trade name. The first was my neighbor, Russ St. Jean, a Navy Lieutenant Commander back in Newport, Rhode Island, in the 70s. He made beautiful scrimshaw-adorned Nantucket basket purses in his garage. The second artist was John van Opstal, a Dutchman living in Horta, on the island of Faial in the Azores, Portuguese islands in mid-Atlantic, where we had sailed in 2005. This beautifully etched whale’s tooth is John’s work. All of his ivory is “old whale”, meaning that divers in the Azores have recovered the teeth from whale skeletons on the seabed near old whaling stations.

Yes, it’s time for Part 4 of this week’s Photo Quiz...
Photo #7: What is this structure, where is it located, and what is the flap about turning off its lights at night in the spring and fall? 













Photo #8: What is this place's name, who lived here, and where is it located?










Today I visited the bank and stood in line to make a deposit that could have been made much more quickly at the drive-up window... this may sound like strange behavior, but our local bank here in The Villages has this great tradition of providing movie theater grade popcorn for customers around 11:00 AM-noon. It’s amazing how many curmudgeons like me find an excuse to visit the bank at least once a week....  Anyway, while munching on my popcorn outside, I noticed a golf cart out front with an Ironman sticker. I have completed three triathlons, but not The Biggie, the Ironman, which allows a 60-64 year old to typically suffer for 13-15 hours while completing a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. I then met Kenny, who lives in Mallory Square here in The Villages, who is a very young 64 and very, very fit. We swapped running and triathlon stories (his were much better than mine) and when I asked if I could snap his photo for the blog, he said, “Want to see my tattoo?” I almost said, “No, this is a G-rated blog...”, but then he turned his leg to show his Ironman tattoo. Kenny is former Army, Vietnam 1969-70, and is only a few months younger than me. (Now let’s see, if I start training now, I might be ready for an Ironman in a year or two.... hmmmm..... thanks a lot, Kenny!) 
We received a FedEx package today, and when I saw the postmark, I thought that Terri of the Frozen North might have gotten a bit weary of my repeated smart-alecky swipes at Minnesota and sent a package bomb... but instead she sent a two pound box of Wilbur’s Buds, heavenly chocolate morsels (mixed milk and dark chocolate) made in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, that look like unwrapped Silverbells (AKA Hershey’s Kisses). Terri had mentioned last week that the Buds were even better than the Hershey's version. If she thinks I can be "sweeted" to blog about the undiscovered delights of her home state... well, she is absolutely correct! (Thank you, Terri... maybe I can work myself back into the good graces of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce next week!)