Monday, March 31, 2014

A Brilliant Medical Researcher; A Really Long Trip; Disputing the Ball; Photo Quiz Lunch; Lawyers for Dinner?

Here at Blog Headquarters, we are always happy to receive complimentary emails about our blog posts. (Complaints from outraged, disgruntled or otherwise dissatisfied readers are passed to our Circular Filing System Manager for disposition.) One of our obviously very bright and discerning readers (whom we met in person last year at the Center for Spiritual Living in St. Louis) is Kathryn Tristan, a medical researcher at the Washington University School of Medicine, pictured here in her lab/office. The piece of equipment behind Kathryn in the lower photo is a liquid nitrogen tank, in which she keeps her lunch as well as vials of cells, proteins, viruses and various and sundry biological hazards. Kathryn advises that the temperature of her liquid nitrogen tank is about 330 degrees below zero (F), or about the temperature of a sunny Spring day in Coon Rapids, Minnesnowta. Judging by her coffee mug, she prefers warmer climes like Nassau in the Bahamas.






When she's not reading this blog, Kathryn studies how the immune system regulates itself; she also mutates proteins to determine how they react in certain genetically-based disease states. She has most graciously offered to give Your Ever-Inquisitive Correspondent and His Lovely Bride a tour of her lab when we return to St. Louis next year (2015) and even show us the "confocal microscopy" facility that makes a grain of sand look like a penny and peers into the inside of individual cells (see photo at left). This would be "Way Beyond Cool"... thanks, Kathryn - we look forward to seeing you again in St. Louis!





Speaking of research, I am on Mapquest right now planning our summer tour. In particular, I just input Greenville, SC, and Wilmington, NC. The distance to be traveled is 305.77 miles, and the calculated time (based on current traffic) is 8,337 hrs 59 mins. I had hoped to be able to make the drive in about 6 hours, but now I have to plan on 347.416667 days. Leaving on 1 May 2014, we won't arrive until 13 April 2015. I'm not sure we can afford that amount of time, but we have friends in Wilmington that we want to see, so we'll just have to suck it up. Maybe the traffic will be a bit lighter by May 1st.




Spring has arrived here in The Villages... how do I know, since it's almost always warm and sunny here? Well, for one, polo is back! Our local newspaper (AKA "The Happy Paper") advised that the first polo match of this season was played on Sunday. Here is a photo captioned "Disputing the ball". Let's see, you have two thousand pound animals galloping at 30 miles per hour with gals and guys with long mallets pushing each other around while trying to whack the ball into a goal. "Disputing the ball" seems a grossly inadequate phrase...










On a less confrontational note, on Sunday we were able to have lunch with our recent Photo Quiz winners, Steve and Carole Jasper. Steve had the first correct entry identifying the frozen strawberry photo. Our good friends Joyce and Sharon also joined us at Panera; you may recall that Sharon won the Impertinence Award... We had a great time, and fortunately the Panera staff did not eject us for excessively loud laughter.



Finally, the last post title does not refer to feeding lawyers to sharks or piranhas. I am told that because of professional courtesy, man-eating fish will not attack a lawyer. Actually, we were able to reciprocate dinner for several friends, two of whom are lawyers, AKA attorneys, advocates, and ambulance chasers. (Yes, I was able to constrain my desire to tell lawyer jokes, but it was very hard.) Peter is a patent attorney with lots of experience in technical patent applications; his wife Jan is a nutritional adviser, yoga instructor and artist whose beautiful hand-painted scarves are very popular here in The Villages and back in their home state of Michigan. Jan, in fact, gave us the idea to visit the Detroit area; Suzanne will be speaking in their home area in Farmington Hills in May. Lawyer Gail is a public defender in Sumter County; she has more stories than you can imagine... many of which deal with her speeding tickets, but I don't want to overly publicize that aspect of her life...




We were pleasantly surprised when our sweet little Miniature Dachshund Gretchen allowed Gail to hold her; Gretchen even gave her lots of sloppy kisses. (I don't know what it was that Gail had on that made Gretchen kiss her, because we have trained Gretchen as a lawyer-attack dog...)




Friday, March 28, 2014

Sleeping on Air; Citrus Tract Trail (Part 2); Weight Matters; Hobbit-Like Woods; A Gorgeous Visitor; Hello Kitty? An Unexpected Scowl

How long had it been since I slept on an air mattress (a new acquisition, to replace a well-used foam pad), especially a comfortable one? At least 30 or 40 years, I surmised, as I lay cozy in my sleeping bag, to this pre-sunrise view above my tent on the Citrus Tract Trail. It appears hazy because of the mosquito screen that makes up the inner roof of the tent. The outer (detachable) roof, called a "fly", is waterproof. The whole tent only weighs 4 lbs 8 oz, which is pretty light. It won't keep a grizzly bear out, but (a) I wasn't in bear country, and (b) if I had been, I would have brought My Lovely Bride to stand watch during the night while I slept. Smack... Guess she wasn't amused...




 
 
Next came morning ablutions (I've always liked that word; it comes from the Latin ab: away, and luere: to wash), somewhat abbreviated due to the paucity of fresh water... I carry a small Ziploc bag of baby wipes for the purpose. Regular toothbrush and a tiny tube of toothpaste are also in my pack; serious ultralight backpackers will cut off most of the toothbrush to save weight; I'm not quite that anal. Then I fixed a cup of instant coffee (Starbucks Via, almost indistinguishable from fresh-made from ground beans) and a hearty breakfast of granola with a half cup of water to wet it down. (Don't laugh - granola is high in carbs, fat and calories, but not so high in protein; protein bars filled in that gap after an hour of hiking). My Esbit stove and pot combo is an ultra-light 7.5 oz, and uses small fuel tabs that boil a cup of water in under 8 mins. (The only down side is that the fuel tabs have the aroma of rotting fish... YUCK! I have to keep them in double Ziplocs.)



Back on the trail for the rest of my hike, another 12 mile day - feet a bit sore, but that's to be expected. My low-cut Merrell trail boots (the one on the right in the photo) are relatively lightweight at exactly 2 lbs; far lighter than my tougher Asolo mountain boots at 3 Lbs 5 oz, but on this benign and relatively smooth trail, I didn't need high-top boots with heavy lug soles and a steel last. Lots of foot powder kept blisters away, thankfully.




The terrain continued to provide a variety of visual treats. This stand of small twisted trees was kind of bizarro... but not as spooky as....













... this huge Tolkien-inspired oak grove I later encountered. This area could have given one the creeps on a dark, stormy evening. There were no bird songs to be heard, only a light moaning of the wind in the tops of the trees. You almost expected little hobbits to come running from behind the trees...












... or from caves... like this one. The karst (limestone) geological formations here in the Withlacoochee State Forest produce lots of caves and underground streams. It's hard to tell from this photo, taken 50 feet away, but the entrance to this cave is about 3 feet high. I briefly entertained a notion of trying out some spelunking and exploring the cave, but since I was traveling solo, I thought better of the idea.








There were many black and blue Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies (Battus philenor) flitting around during my hike. The first photo (blurry) is one I took of a "fast-mover" on the wing. The second provides much better detail, but is from the Internet. I may have to return next Spring with my good camera to get some better images. The Pipevine Swallowtail takes its name from one of its host plants, the Pipevine (Aristolochia). Pipevines confer a poisonous quality to the larvae and the resulting adults, much as the Monarch butterfly obtains protection by feeding on milkweed.







What a beautiful creature... Nature is truly awesome, and this Pipevine Swallowtail appears to be in perfect order!











Just after my last butterfly encounter, a flash of pink at the side of the trail caught my eye, and I found another sign of humanity... this tiny Hello Kitty barrette. It was heartening to see that there are still some parents who take their kids into the woods for a family hike instead of sticking them in front of TVs to be kept out of the way... Keep up the good parenting!







As I was in the last mile or two of my trip, I spotted another backpacker about a quarter mile ahead, going in the same direction. I would probably have caught up with him, but I encountered four day hikers resting on the side of the trail headed in the direction in which I had just come. I stopped to tell them about the cave and the hobbits' forest ahead. We chatted for almost 15 minutes about hiking and mountain biking. Then they asked whether I knew the backpacker up ahead. I said that I had not yet met him, but hoped to. They said that when they passed, all four had said "Good Morning", but had only gotten an annoyed scowl in reply. That was unfortunate, because hikers are usually friendly folk. We parted, and I thought no more of the other backpacker until I arrived at the campground and started into the rest room. I almost bumped into that guy in the doorway, both of us with backpacks on, and I gave him a friendly, "Howdy; how are you doing?" He scowled and turned away without a word. In all honesty, I have only encountered that negative a reaction a handful of times in my entire life. I think he may have a lot to learn on this earthly plane...


In reflecting on my solo backpacking experience, I was reminded that I was not really alone. I needed to thank My Good Friend and Guide Prudence who dictated that I remain above ground rather than diving into that cave and getting my butt stuck. She is the only feminine presence other than My Lovely Daughter Elisabeth that Suzanne encourages me to travel with out in the woods... Pru doesn't keep me warm at night in the tent, but she does keep me out of trouble. Usually.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Norm Shealy; Off the Grid; One of the "Coolest Places"; Citrus Track Trail (Part 1)

On Saturday, while I was preparing for a big trip, Suzanne was introducing Dr. Norm Shealy at an event sponsored by the Edgar Cayce Group here in the Villages. Norm is a delightful gentleman, a renowned expert in pain management, a pioneer in biogenics, a neuroscientist, and an author of 24 books on medical intuition and energy medicine. I got to meet Norm over lunch at the Arnold Palmer Country Club with Suzanne and good friends Elizabeth, Ann and Gloria. Suzanne really enjoyed his talk, and came back with lots of ideas to try on me when my back pain acted up. (Little did she know how soon she might have to go to work...)





 Your Faithful Correspondent has been "off the grid" for a couple of days... while backpacking and hiking in an area that the World Wildlife Fund rated #1 on its list of "The Ten Coolest Places in North America That You've Never Seen". Where was I? Well, some of the others in WWF's Ten Coolest List were the Torngat Mountains in Labrador/Northern Quebec (maybe one day); Camp Pendleton, CA (been there); Old Rag Mt. in Shenandoah (climbed it); and Klamath-Siskiyou Forests on the border of Oregon and California (going there this summer).





With such really cool places to choose from, maybe I went to Alaska? Maine? Wyoming? Naaahhhh. How about 35 miles from the house in Withlacoochee State Forest, the other side of Inverness, FL? WSF spans over 150,000 acres, but the Citrus Tract (42,500 acres), where I backpacked for two days, is the most popular section. Mature longleaf pine forests predominate here, allowing open vistas and a habitat found nowhere else on earth. As many as 200 species of plants and trees can be found at a single site. A 43 mile loop trail meanders through the woods and prairies, but since rain was forecast during a frontal passage, I limited my trip to two days. (I don't do tents in the rain if I can avoid it.)






My Lovely Bride dropped me and my 35 lb backpack off with a farewell smack (of the amorous kind, fortunately) at the trailhead near Holder Mine Campground, a couple of miles off CR 581. This was typical scenery along the trail on day 1. The orange blaze on the pine tree marked the northern loop of the trail.











Because I wasn't sure if wild turkey hunting season was still open, I hung two small orange towels on my backpack to attempt to convince local hunters that I wasn't a valid target. Fortunately, I later learned that the season had just ended two days earlier. Unfortunately, no one had told the deer, wild hogs and turkeys, all of whom were still hiding out after hearing gunshots all week prior... I didn't see a single large animal during my visit.






There were some wildflowers blooming, like these blue thingies (I'm not a botanist) that brightened up the landscape. Otherwise, the flora varied mostly between pines, oak trees and saw palmetto, with some tall palm trees thrown in for good measure. There were even a few orange trees with fruit high above my reach. (Actually, I wouldn't have picked them in any case, because I follow the Leave No Trace backcountry ethic).









Thankfully, there was almost no sign of humans (i.e., trash) along the entire trail. I had one tragic encounter, though, with this poor fellow who had been buried up to his neck in the middle of the trail. I tried reviving him with CPR, but to no avail. He was a goner. Sadly, I mumbled a few appropriate words over him and returned his body to his resting place. At least his remains are in a scenic spot, and fellow hikers can pay their respects as they travel this beautiful forest.





In researching the trail, I found reference to gophers; although I never saw one above ground, I was advised that their dirt mounds were prevalent through this area, and indeed, here is a set that marked the topside of their underground burrows. Pretty amazing engineering, and lots of exit points to escape predators.








This area has no streams running through it, so it is what backpackers call a dry trail... meaning you have to carry your own water, and at 8.34 lbs a gallon, that adds up quickly. There are two old open cisterns along the trail, but even with a filter, this water wasn't very appetizing. If I lived around here, I could have prepositioned (cached) a water jug like another hiker had in the second photo. But since I was only out for two days, I could get by on what I carried, though I had used every drop by the time I finished my 24 mile trip.








The trail guide had mentioned Five Mile Pond being an "ephemeral water source". That is a euphemism for "almost nonexistent" and "pathetically inadequate", unless you are a wild hog that doesn't mind wallowing in a few inches of wet muck to get your daily dose of water. I declined to wallow, and enjoyed the Gatorade I was sipping, but regretted that there wasn't a clear stream of sweet water flowing nearby.








After five hours and 12 miles of hiking, I was happy to reach Jackson Camp, a primitive (no water, electric hookup, picnic tables, or even cable TV) campsite under a big old gnarled oak tree. I had not seen another hiker all day, pretty amazing for being on a popular hiking trail not too far from civilization. I set up my tent and prepared a gourmet dinner of dehydrated chili mac out of a bag. It doesn't sound that appetizing, but believe me when I tell you it tasted really delicious after a long day afoot.The bag states that there are two portions inside, but there wasn't a drop left when I finished. The bag is handy because you just pour in 2 cups of boiling water, let stand for 9 minutes, and eat out of the bag... no cleanup required, just pack the bag out in your (very small) trash bag. I was a very tired puppy after dinner, so I rigged my lightweight air mattress and sleeping bag and read until 2100 (Mutiny Aboard HMS Bounty, by William Bligh). I fell asleep with the call of a whip-poor-will (Caprimulgus vociferus) (and I am not joking, that's his real scientific name) just a few yards away. For those who have not heard the whip-poor-will (a nightjar, which I hadn't heard in many years); here's a link to an audio... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTATW8H8zpQ


The whip-poor-will's song is described as "haunting and ethereal", and is the stuff of legends, especially in New England, where the whip-poor-will is alleged to be able to sense a soul departing, and can capture it as it flees. One Native American legend regards the song as a death omen. James Thurber wrote a short story in which the incessant songs of whip-poor-wills results in maddening insomnia of the protagonist, who then kills everyone in his house, including himself. Fortunately, I was too tired for the whip-poor-will to keep me awake!











Saturday, March 22, 2014

Albertans; "I Play Better in the Dark"; Berry Cold; Treed; Ticketed; Reading the Newspaper; Irish Sushi?

You've all heard of the Alberta Clipper, the Arctic air mass that descends from the Canadian Rockies to chill Southern climes... well, we were happy to be the recipients of an Air Canada delivery of two delightful, warm Albertans from Calgary, Marla Simpson and Mike Finch, for a brief visit to sunny, warm central Florida. We met them while stopping to get my computer repaired in Calgary last summer; because our cell phones were turned off while in Canada, My Lovely Bride had been on her computer at a Wendy's (thank you for free Wi-Fi)  looking for a repair shop. There were many listed in the search results, but her guides told her to go to one in particular, MicroTrends. (We have learned to listen to Suzanne's guides.) We drove there, and while I brought my useless computer inside to be fixed, Suzanne walked the puppies... about 30 feet, where she discovered Self Connection, a really cool metaphysical book store. They allowed dogs, so MLB, Rudy and Gretchen were chatting with Marla and Mike when a shriek came from the back of the store. Seems that a little girl had almost fallen over Briggs, a 140 lb. German Leonberger that was the real owner of the store. Leonbergers are known as Gentle Lions or Gentle Giants, and the girl was unhurt, only shaken by stumbling into the canine version of a Sherman tank.

Suzanne was so impressed by Marla and Mike (hereafter called "the M&Ms") that she invited them to visit us in The Villages, and when they called to say that they would be stopping by, we were thrilled. We borrowed My Good Friend Bob's 4-seater golf cart, and took the M&Ms on a driving tour of America's Friendliest home town. They were particularly impressed by our two polo fields and grandstand; I had to look up the actual dimensions (300 yds x 160 yds, each). They laughed when I described the half-time tradition of "divot stomping" while sipping champagne, and I suggested they return next year to try it out. The M&Ms were also impressed by the reasonable home prices here, about half of what they might be in Calgary; but then, when you have to pay for 11 months of serious snow removal up there, your amenities fees have to be astronomical. We would like to see the M&Ms move south to TV; barring that, we expect to see them next summer in Calgary, where Suzanne will have an event at their store. See their web site at www.selfconnection.ca.




After a grilled salmon dinner, cooked but regrettably not caught by Your Faithful Correspondent, Suzanne held a small Sanaya session here at the house. It was a good opportunity for our Heart Circle to meet the M&Ms and enjoy their company. After Sanaya's messages, we sat and chatted and laughed for an hour; I have to relate the following quote from one member of the Heart Circle who shall remain anonymous - it produced some raucous laughter - "I play better in the dark..." she was actually referring to an annual golf match played under the stars with glow-in-the-dark balls, but the way it came out was a thinly-veiled double entendre. (Thank you, Donna, for the best quote of the evening...)



Okay, the Photo Quiz the other day was correctly identified by several readers as a frozen strawberry. The earliest email came from Steve Jasper, so Steve and Carole will get lunch with Corvette Chick and The Bruised Bicyclist. Thanks to all of you readers across the country (especially my Navy shipmate Dale from La Otto, Indiana) for your submissions, and also to Dr. Elsa, whose "marks left by edible bivalve mollusks on colored grated ice" wins Honorable Mention (and lunch!) for scientific creativity. Lady Sharon of TV gets the Impertinence Award (and lunch) for her answer of "looks like YFC's boo-boo with one of Suzanne's fingernails in the wound". Sharon, really...

One of the neat things about this contest for MLB and I is getting to meet/renew acquaintances with so many great people!







On a w-a-l-k in t-o-w-n with Rudy and Gretchen, our two little fearless Dachshunds treed this specimen of Sciurus carolinensis, the Eastern Gray Squirrel. It was particularly gratifying because the encounter was in Sumter Landing, just over two miles from the house. Now that trees in our area are maturing, more wildlife (okay, rodents) are moving in. The puppies love chasing squirrels! And for the PETAphiles in the audience, "No, we do not allow our Rudy and Gretchen to catch and eat the rodents in question..."












While getting a cup of coffee in Spanish Springs the other day, I observed one of Lady Lake's finest motorcycle officers writing two tickets to grandmothers who had not brought their golf carts to complete stops at stop signs in the town square. While fully supporting traffic safety, I also suspect that the income stream provided by nabbing retired folks in golf carts making "California stops" has become more rewarding to our local constabulary than reducing serious crime like drug sales, meth labs and car theft. It's certainly easier for the fearless officer involved, because all he had to do is sit on his bike at the intersection and pull over senior after senior... raking in fines and meanwhile saving scarce fuel dollars for the Lady Lake Town Treasury... sheesh!



Another unbelievable sight was this lady sitting in her car calmly reading her newspaper... in the middle of the parking lot of our mailboxes! I very politely asked her if her car had broken down... she looked at me rather condescendingly and replied, "No, I'm reading my newspaper." Okaaaayyyyy....







Finally, I had a comment from Jan Smith related to our sushi event in Orlando. Seems that Jan, while out for dinner on March 17th, ordered a St. Patty's Roll at a local sushi bar here in The Villages (NOT our favorite, which is VKI, by the way). Jan reports that the roll was "pretty bland"... Jan, really, Irish Sushi????  I'm trying to imagine the ingredients... potatoes, turnips and Guinness? I can't imagine anything less appetizing, except maybe Haggis sushi on Burns Night... yuck! 


Thursday, March 20, 2014

MLB Home; Dachshunds Rule! Italian Sushi? Winners Lunch; Black and Blue; Buckets of What? Another Photo Quiz!

Good news: My Lovely Bride had a great time visiting family in West Chester, PA, and has returned home from the Frozen Northeast (Pennsylvania), but not without enduring a snow event, her first in several years. This was the view out of her window - coincidentally, the window of her childhood bedroom - in the very house in which she and her sister Janice had grown up. I asked her what it was like sleeping in her old room; she said it was much smaller than when she was a child. I think we have all had that feeling when returning to childhood homes and neighborhoods...




While there were many differences between West Chester and The Villages, one of the similarities was that Suzanne got to enjoy two wonderful Dachshunds there... her sister Janice is owned by Rusty and Tiki, and Tiki was especially persistent in making her feel at home, following her everywhere around the house, sitting in her lap and giving her lots of kisses. (Gretchen and Rudy would later accuse her of treason for hanging out with other dogs and coming home with their scents on her clothes...) That's Tiki on the floor with his legs splayed and Rusty on the sofa.
















The only wrinkle with Suzanne's trip home was having to undergo de-icing of her airplane at PHL, which added a ground delay there and got her into Orlando (MCO) at 5:30 PM, an hour late. This would not have been much of a hassle, except that I was S-T-A-R-V-I-N-G by that point. We made the mistake of going to an untried sushi restaurant a few miles from the airport, instead of simply getting some survival rations (Ding Dongs or Tastee Cakes) at a 7-11 to last us until we got back to The Villages and our favorite sushi place, VKI Japanese Restaurant. I hate to say this, because of my family background, but the sushi bar had formerly been an Italian restaurant, and even my credit card receipt was labeled "DaVinci Sushi". The experience in Orlando was underwhelming, and that is putting a good face on it. After several disasters, we have learned to order one dish, in this case a spicy tuna roll, and a beer, and then decide if the sushi is up to standards; if not, we order something less hard to mess up, like Teriyaki chicken or Tempura shrimp. Even those were only average, but what can you expect from a sushi chef named Guido? (Note to self: check provenance of restaurant before trying paisano sushi.)




Back in TV, we got together with our latest Photo Quiz winner, Ann Stewart, and her husband Bob, for lunch at Panera in Sumter Landing. The Stewarts have lived in TV for 14 years, and when Ann saw the photo of the door in last week's blog post, she recognized it right away. (Thank goodness we had a winner, because I am often kidded for publishing "obscure" or "mystery" photos.) Bob had recently had surgery on his right index finger, and has been reduced to being a lefty for several more weeks. He is an avid cyclist, and fortunately has been able to keep up his daily regimen on a bike trainer until he is given the okay by his doc to ride on the roads again. Ann is an avid bridge player and quilter. They were great fun, and we look forward to seeing them again when we return from our summer tour.






As I was heading out for my run today, Suzanne took this photo of my bruised thigh from my mountain biking fall 10 days ago. It looks a lot worse than it feels, but for 8 days I couldn't lie on my right side. My Lovely Bride suggested that I take a course in defensive cycling... and maybe get one of those inflatable Michelin Man suits for self-protection. She is such a card...












I was going through Suzanne's photos from her trip, and I was a bit befuddled by this one. I thought she had gone to a paint store... but these were buckets of wine at one of the Brandywine vineyards! I asked her, "Hey, why didn't you didn't bring me one of those?" All I got was some lame excuse about TSA and it not fitting in her carry-on bag. Sigh...









Finally, here is this week's Photo Quiz. Give me your best shot at identifying it; send your answer to ftgiesemann@aol.com. Please give as detailed an answer as you can; the winner gets lunch for two with My Lovely Bride and Your Faithful Correspondent.





Sunday, March 16, 2014

No More Work! My Good Friend Bob; First Draft Down; Giant LUST! Jet Jockey; Winey Girls in Philly

The lead subtitle doesn't apply to me... My Good Friend Bob, better known to many of you as The Cell Phone Policeman at many of Suzanne's events, retired at 1600 (4:00 PM) local on Friday March 14th, his birthday. Normally right now, on a Monday morning, he would be hard at work doing planning and estimating for millwork (doors, windows, etc.) installations. I suspect he woke up at his regular time and went to his desk before realizing that he could have slept in... I know the feeling, Bob. We went out with Bob and His Lovely Bride Jan the other night for a celebratory dinner at Eaton's Beach, on the scenic shores of Lake Weir. Most wives of newly-retired guys dread having their hubbies underfoot seven days a week for the first time, but since Bob has worked from home since they moved to TV seven years ago, Jan is probably hoping that he will get OUT of the house for a change!






I am looking forward to Bob's retirement for several reasons: (1) we hope to go RV'ing with Bob and Jan now that he has weekdays as well as weekends available; (2) Bob has promised to give me pointers on fishing (he repeatedly gives me grief about my poor fishing skills); and (3) I hope to teach him some of the finer techniques of bicycling, like how to fall on your butt with only minor scrapes and bruises. Welcome to retirement, Bob!


My Lovely Bride has completed the first draft of her new book about the remarkable young Wolf Pasakarnis. Some of you have heard her Heart Gifts presentation; the book, titled Wolf's Story, will provide all the background, details and additional evidence that has been revealed over the past two months. We broke out the Champagne on the night she finished that first draft, and Bob and Jan were right there to help us out.  Fortunately, I didn't hit anyone with the cork!












My Lovely Bride is a happy, Lusty cyclist. I should explain that last adjective... her new bike is a Giant Lust model. She certainly lusted after it, and is even happy with the color. That's very important to girls. Coincidentally, it perfectly matches her new cycling outfit and new color-coordinated helmet. She asked me what color my new bike would be; I said, "I don't have a clue. Is that important?" She sighed and shook her head.








 Here is Suzanne lifting her bike's 26 lbs - it's very light compared to her old bike. She also has me researching the best mountain biking trails in the country to see how many we can visit during this summer's tour... see, it's not just me that's crazy about bikes! (Did I mentioned she really likes the color?)













Our long-time sailing friend and retired airline pilot Jim (call sign Jet Jockey) visited us with his latest toy - a new, top-of-the-line BMW motorcycle, 800 lbs of raw power, all tricked out with the latest electronics, bells and whistles, not to mention the world's most sophisticated motorcycle helmet available to non-racers. We almost didn't know he had arrived in our driveway, because the BMW's six cylinder, 1,600 cc engine sounds like a purring high performance sports car - it's not loud like a Harley. Congratulations, Jim!










Finally, My Lovely Bride is away visiting Her Lovely Sister Janice in West Chester, PA, outside Philadelphia. They did the usual family activities - dinner, a movie, shoveling snow (oh, sorry, it managed to melt just before Suzanne arrived, but she was ready!), touring four wineries... "What did you say, Ty, wineries in the Philly burbs?" Yep, sports fans, you can go vineyard hopping in the Brandywine region (what great marketing, eh?).  Suzanne took this photo of Janice's daughter Lisa, soon-to-be-daughter-in-law Courtney, and Janice at either the second or third of four vineyards... no one could quite remember how many they had visited...