Sunday, March 29, 2015

New Orleans; 50th Reunion; World War II Museum; Dinner at Arnaud's; Where Were You...? Breakfast at Brennan's

We arrived in New Orleans amid a passing cold front, complete with thunder, lightning and heavy rain, but the weather cleared and we’re enjoying cool, dry temperatures, with highs in the 70s and lows of 55. The coach is set up in the Elks Lodge parking lot next to two Mardi Gras “truck floats”. These are not the fancy huge equipments that the big parades are famous for, but are the much less expensive neighborhood variety, and were pulled by tractors in the Irish-Italian Parade here in Metairie, the principal suburb of New Orleans. 

One of the reasons for our early departure from The Villages this year was to attend my 50th high school reunion. This reunion of the class of 1965, New Orleans Academy, an all-boys military prep school, is our first ever. Of the original 26 graduates, 3 have made the transition to another reality, and 16 of the remainder were able to attend this weekend’s festivities. I am including this original graduation photo of our class; when My Lovely Daughter Elisabeth first saw it in a past blog, she told us that she thought it was a photo from the Civil War. She has such a sense of humor… 

Before meeting my classmates, we went for an early snack at Drago's, a fabulous oyster bar that specializes in oysters on the half shell, but charbroiled over a raging fire with ladles of butter, garlic, herbs and a Romano/Parmesan cheese mixture, then served with French bread. 

On busy days, Drago's will serve over 900 dozen oysters to loyal and perfectly satisfied customers, mostly locals. (We only accounted for two dozen on this visit...) A culinary nota bene: we have lived around the world, and Louisiana oysters are the very best; sorry, Florida, Washington and Maryland, yours don't even come close to the size and succulent taste of oysters from the Pelican State!

Our first reunion event was an amazing cocktail party graciously hosted by Teddy Baer (yes, that's really his name!) and his wife, Suzanne, in their highrise condo overlooking Lake Pontchartrain and the city's largest marina (destroyed during Hurricane Katrina but recently rebuilt). 

On Saturday our group visited the National World War II Museum, and had an introduction by Bill Detweiler, who was one of its co-founders, along with historian and author Stephen Ambrose. We then toured the many spectacular exhibits detailing the events of the most costly war in human history, which could have been easily prevented if milktoast diplomacy, pacifism and unilateral disarmament had not so weakened the US military and encouraged Germany, Italy and Japan to attack their neighbors and try to take over the world. It was a moving experience, with recognition and applause for several World War II veterans, all now in their late 80s/90s. (There is much to be learned here, but no one in the White House seems to know much about history and its bloody lessons...)

Remember the Rosie the Riveter poster from WWII? In honor of the hundreds of thousands of women who worked in factories and shipyards to free up men to fight, Suzanne donned bandana and work shirt to pose as a modern day Rosie.


Here are the class members and two of our coaches/teachers at our class reunion dinner at Arnaud's. Coach Myers (sixth from right, back row) was our coach (all sports) and also our chemistry and Latin teacher; at 92, he is still teaching chemistry and Latin! From that group of sharp-looking young men from 1965 have come three retired Navy and Army officers, several lawyers, a federal judge, a racing thoroughbred farrier, a pharmacist, computer and electrical engineers, an airline pilot, a state police sergeant, a hotelier, a developer, a heavy construction engineer, a hospital administrator, a school principal and an architect. Fortunately, there have been no felons or axe murderers associated with this class (at least to this date). One classmate, Rick Thompson, flew in from Israel, winning the Most Distance Traveled Award.

Arnaud’s is a world famous French Quarter restaurant that was rated one of the world’s 5 best restaurants when its previous owner, Germaine Wells, ran the place in the 50s and 60s. The food is still fabulous, and included Shrimp Arnaud with a Creole Remoulade sauce, Seafood Gumbo, Red Snapper Pontchartrain topped with crabmeat and a cream sauce (or filet mignon au poivre), and flamed strawberries Arnaud.
Suzanne and Valerie Hiser are seen here getting acquainted and enjoying the ambience of Arnaud's. Suzanne had only met two of my classmates over the past 18 years, and appreciated the gracious and warm welcome accorded her by everyone she encountered.

Our table included the Drells (Dee is a sitting federal judge and his wife Suzanne a substance abuse counselor -- yes, that's 3 Suzannes at these events) and the Parras (Wence is an attorney and Sharon an art teacher). Judge Dee Drell recalled that on the day President Kennedy was shot, Your Faithful Correspondent was one of the first to hear the news (I think I was up at the front office, being recognized for some sterling act of deportment, I am sure) and came running across the schoolyard to announce that historic event to my 11th grade classmates. Dee mentioned that every American remembered where they were when they heard the news, and then asked Suzanne where she was at that moment. There was a pregnant pause, and My Lovely Bride replied with a straight face, "My mother told me I was asleep in my crib." After a moment of stunned silence, those at the table broke into laughter... Suzanne was only 2 years old in November, 1963, whereas most of us around the table were 16.  (Please keep any comments about my being a cradle robber to yourselves!)

Food is always a problem when we visit New Orleans. What I mean by that is that we are always eating delicious (read "rich") Cajun cuisine and fresh-off-the-boat seafood. On this trip we decided to buy a week's gym membership at the nearby French Riviera Fitness Center; while it didn't serve bouillabaisse or Tarte Tropezienne in the health food bar, it was only a quarter mile from the coach. An added benefit was that we could work out and shower there daily and minimize water usage that would have otherwise filled our gray water tank in 3-4 days. Since we were eating many meals out, we also didn't have to wash dishes very often. In fact, after a bike ride on the lakefront levee, I convinced Suzanne to stop for cafe au lait and beignets at Morning Call, a New Orleans institution, on the pretext of saving even more water. She kindly agreed, but demurred on the beignets... "Darn, well, you can't leave anything on your plate, so... pass the powdered sugar, please."

Our final class event was Breakfast at Brennan's on Royal Street in the French Quarter. Their beautiful courtyard is famous, as is their food. Their web site states that "...breakfast revelry is taken as seriously as a decadent dinner."


This was another "dress-up" event, as you can see by the svelte and lovely young lady on this gentleman's arm. The eggs, omelets, bacon, hash browns and coffee were delicious, but "over the top" was the only way to describe the flaming Bananas Foster. "Okay, Ty, it's back to the gym this afternoon for you!"


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ty is Doomed; Poisoned by Good Friends; Falling Waters; Waffle House! Mullets?

I am doomed... On our first day out on our Summer Tour, we were driving down I-10 at 60 mph, Your Humble Correspondent at the wheel, and I caught just a glimpse of a billboard advertising "Brothels"... well, that's what I thought the sign said. I mentioned this to My Lovely Bride, who glanced up from her computer, and without the skip of a heartbeat, she said, "Ty, get your mind out of the gutter; it's an ad for Panera's Broth Bowls. We'll discuss this when you're not driving..." Smack!

In an effort to recover my senses after the aforementioned rebukes, both mental and physical, I mentioned to My Lovely Bride that I needed something sweet to eat. She looked inside the Goody Bag that our Very Thoughtful Friends Joyce and Sharon had dropped off before we departed home., and said, "Ty, here is some candy, shaped like lips with teeth; it looks yummy." "Okay, Love of My Life, I'll take it." It wasn't the worst candy I've ever had, but it certainly wasn't in the top 10% either... surprising, considering the discriminating tastes that Joyce and Sharon normally have. It wasn't until the end of the day that Suzanne emailed J&S and mentioned the candy... a few minutes later, their reply came back, "Oooooo nooooo, that Waxy Wonder is probably resting uncomfortably in Ty's tummy right now. Who raised you kids anyway? That was Scary Teeth for Ty to put on for a photo op!" I may recover from my indigestion in a few days. Maybe I should find a good lawyer (or is that an oxymoron?) and sue???

On the way past Tallahassee, we stopped at Maclay Gardens State Park, a small but beautiful gardens planted in 1923 by snowbirds Alfred and Louise Mackay. We didn't have time to tour the gardens themselves, since this was a brief stop for PT, but we enjoyed a run on the park's 8 miles of pine needle-covered trails through the woods, never seeing another runner or hiker. There were some high school kids down at the lake, where racing shells sat awaiting their crews while the guys trained on rowing machines. 

Our first night on our Summer Tour was spent at Falling Waters State Park in Chipley, FL.  It was a very pleasant and tiny park, with only 20 or so campsites, and by Great Good Fortune, the only one that we could easily fit in was vacant; most of the others were full, it being Spring Break. We celebrated our first night out with a ribeye steak dinner cooked over our portable gas grill. 

After dinner, we took a hike down to the 73 foot high waterfall at Falling Waters Sink, for which the park is named. Here we see Suzanne enjoying the spiritual and physical beauty of the falls, while the puppies are sniffing for potential prey. It was almost dark, so the details of the falls are unfortunately obscured, and early reveille the next morning would preclude a second visit. 

There were two benefits to early reveille: (1) getting on the road before rain and thunderstorms made driving a pain; and (2) having our traditional "First Breakfast on Tour" at our favorite diner, Waffle House. I feel sorry for those (mostly known affectionately as "Deprived Yankees") who have never eaten at this typically Southern institution. Our meal is always the same, eggs over medium, hash browns scattered and smothered, raisin toast and bacon (for M'Lady) and sausage (for Der Blogmeister). Waffle House servers are always friendly and smiling (polar opposites to those at Durgin Park and many other non-Southern establishments). 

On our way out of town, we passed several houses like this one, with expansive yards, huge trees with Spanish moss, beautiful gardens, and a few even with RV garages... hmmm, that would be a nice feature! Maybe I can talk our neighbors and The Villages management into agreeing to a variance...

This photo requires some explanation... we stopped at a rest stop for... well, rest... and this long haul trucker had stopped for a TV break! The white object on the hood of his tractor is a satellite TV receiver, and it is obviously impossible for him to drive with it rigged for action. I hope that he was such a basketball devotee that with March Madness underway, he simply couldn't miss a match; in the worst case, he may have been anxiously awaiting a rerun of As the World Turns...

Finally, you will note the longish hair style of the trucker above... sort of a "mullet" look... we have a neighbor back in FL (who shall go nameless) with a similar cut. I laughingly mentioned to My Lovely Bride recently that he hasn't changed his hair style since the 70s. She replied saucily, "Well, Ty, neither have you!" "Yes, Darling, but mine is... well... timeless!"

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Summer Tour 2015; A Noisy Fish Clock? Bon Voyage from Alabama; New Friends

As I pen today's blog, the sun isn't even up. The pre-departure excitement is building to a crescendo. Our 2015 Summer Tour starts in about 4 hours, and Suzanne (AKA to regular readers as My Lovely Bride, or MLB), is trying to get some much-needed sleep after a restless night. Fortunately, I slept like a log; must be my sailor background, when sleep came in 2-3 hour batches at best. Even our faithful canine companions, Rudy and Gretchen, know something big is about to happen. Both were pressed up tightly against Your Faithful Correspondent all night, not wanting to be left behind.

We will be traveling about 12,000 miles again this summer, from Florida to California to Boston and back home, so please come out and see us if we're passing through your area. Suzanne's events are shown on the map at the right and listed on her web site at  You will also get to meet Rudy and Gretchen, who are always hits at Suzanne's events.

For the past two days we have loaded our Itasca Ellipse 42QD motor coach with books, DVDs, projector, screen, speaker system, clothes, food, bike gear, tools, backpacks, hiking boots, fishing gear and even dumbbells (no, Bob, I'm not referring to myself). It's amazing how much the coach holds. This image shows the 800 lb capacity slideout cargo tray in the coach's belly that holds Suzanne's books and presentation equipment.

Oh, and this was a thoughtful addition by the manufacturer, an outside fridge for adult beverages; for many, this is primarily for cooling beer, readily accessible for those RV'ers who like to watch sports events on the outside flat screen TV. Since (1) we don't watch television, indoors or out, and (2) I would be violating several long-held principles by adding to the unnecessary noise pollution of the wilderness (or even state park) campsites which we prefer, we have modified the use of this equipment to provide cave-like temperatures for wine....

... in this case a particularly nice Petite Syrah/Petit Verdot by Michael David. The label is even very cool, and may even have a subliminal reference to my choice in the next election. This varietal was recommended by our good friends Bill and Gayle Hancock, wine connoisseurs of the first order. 

For those interested in electrical power required to chill that wine and cook our meals, the green box holds our 10kW Onan diesel generator, which sits on a sliding rail gizmo at the front of the coach. It can power all three air conditioners, fridges, electric stove and even Gretchen's hair dryer.

Last night we had a delightful dinner with Suzanne's Lovely Mom Ruthie at Sumter Grand, where she has made many new friends. The chef did an exceptional job with our filets and crab cakes, and the raspberry pie a la mode wasn't too shabby either. Suzanne will be flying back to visit Ruthie for their shared birthday on August 1st, and Ruthie has an iPad to keep up with our travels and Suzanne's events, which will be chronicled on this blog per usual.  

Our good friends Sharon and Joyce gave us a send-off goody package with Hershey's Kisses, Manchego cheese, cookies, olives and wine, but my favorite gift was this fishing clock... well, it was my favorite until it awoke me at midnight with sounds of fish splashing and slurping. I'm hoping it will serve as a good luck charm and help my fishing success, which has been less than stellar on past summer tours. (You know, because of the heat, humidity, drought conditions, fish being on vacation, etc...) By the way, the tiny fishing rod and fishy hot pad were gifts from our good friends and neighbors Jan and Bob; something about "Ty, here's the biggest fish you'll catch all year..."

We also received Bon Voyage wishes and some great family photos from our new friends Judson and Donna Jo Emens, in Tuscumbia, Alabama, whom Suzanne had met by email. Their two adopted daughters, Haylee and Nadia, are charming and lovely girls, as this photo proves. It's nice to know that families like the Emens can set the standard for a loving, caring environment and spread that joy and happiness around for the rest of us to appreciate. 

I'll wrap up now, because the sun is coming up and we need to finish packing and grab a quick brekkie before hitting the road. We're heading across Florida today, and should wind up in the panhandle, somewhere near Eglin Air Force Base. We're really looking forward to meeting new friends at each of Suzanne's events and at our campgrounds. It's one of the best parts of our summer tour. Why, just last week in Sanibel, I made a new friend while we were out biking. He wasn't very talkative, but that's okay, because he didn't criticize my fishing prowess like My Good Friend Bob often does...

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

SOARing! Sanibel and Good Friends; Wow! (Smack!)... No More Starbucks; Pistol-Packin' Granma

Last Sunday was Suzanne's final SOAR! Workshop in The Villages for this season, and a large and enthusiastic group of attendees spent the day learning how to attune to higher consciousness and achieve self-transformation. You can still gain the benefits from Suzanne's SOAR! program by going to her web site and ordering her DVD set at .

After the SOAR Workshop, we traveled south and had a delightful short vacation with friends on Sanibel Island for a few days. Bill Hammond, Suzanne's original literary agent, award-winning author ( and continuing adviser on publishing, invited us down to a condo he was renting for the week with his sons Churchill and Harrison (2 of the 3 Most Eligible Bachelors in the USA, therefore in the World... the third, Bill's other son Brooks, was unable to make the trip to Sanibel). We arrived Sunday afternoon and got reacquainted with the Hammonds and Churchill's girlfriend Emily. Here we see the Gang of Six on the beach...  (L-R, Harrison, Suzanne, Ty, Emily, Churchill and Bill). 

We then went for a visit to Sanibel's Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, named for the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and wildlife supporter who initiated the Federal Duck Stamp program. Our first event there was a two hour kayak trip. Churchill and Emily were in a double, as were we, while Harrison and Bill chose singles. Here we see Churchill and Emily enjoying the beautiful scenery in the mangroves; Churchill claims to have put on sunscreen, but when the day ended, he was in near-agony due to a brutal sunburn. (Since Minnesnowtans don't see the sun for 10 months during winter, don't they know to be careful out in the tropical sun???) 

Harrison and Bill are seen here; Harrison was usually on point (befitting for an Army ROTC senior), and this photo barely suggests the power in his weight lifter's upper body. (Along with his awesome strength and power comes an incredible appetite... Harrison was the brunt of several jokes and stories about his ability to consume heroic quantities of food, including one about a snack he had one night, a dozen eggs and a pound of bacon... but I'm sure that was slightly exaggerated... or maybe not!) He also impressed us with his speed while running on the beach. Suzanne and I were jogging at a 10 minute per mile pace when Harrison flashed by at a 6:30 pace; the sand parted under his feet like a Corvette running at full throttle!

Speaking of incredible upper body strength, that shown by this kayaker (hey, not the sexy girl, but that handsome muscular guy) also impressed every passing paddler... no laughter, please!

Der Blogmeister almost died on this vacation... I guess an explanation is in order. In the spirit of recording faithfully the events and people he met, purely for historical purposes, Your Faithful Correspondent was going to take photos of everything and everyone that he met. All was going well until a certain beautiful 20-something young woman with a perfect runner's physique, clad in a skimpy, form-fitting  bikini, appeared. My jaw dropped with admiration, and with trusty camera in hand, I was about to record the moment for posterity, when My Lovely Bride gave me "The Evil Eye", or "Dagger Eyes", as "The Look" is also known by husbands worldwide, with the unspoken but perfectly understandable message, "You lift that camera, Bozo, and you are Dead Meat!"  Sigh... 

Up until today, I was a Starbucks drinker, maybe 5-6 cups a day. I have consumed my last cup. In the future, I will shift to any other coffee brand on the planet. Why, you ask? I am greatly offended by their Race Together program. I don't need any commercial establishment, particularly a coffee company, lecturing me on social issues. So that settles that. I'll go to Panera, McDonald's or 7-11 before I buy another cup of Starbucks.

Finally, a humorous accounting moment... and how often do those come around? They can be as rare as honest lawyers. In any case, we were having our taxes done, and during a free moment I commented to the office manager, an old friend of ours, and a grandmother, how much I liked her colorful blouse. I asked, Sharon (not her real name), did you embroider those flowers yourself?" She replied, "Ty, get real. I spend my free time on the target range with my .357 magnum, not embroidering blouses..." "Yes, ma'am, I didn't mean to offend!"

Friday, March 13, 2015

An Outdoor Privy? A New Puppy; Dogs on Wheels; Denali Again? Nice Outfit!

Our dear friends Joyce and Sharon are remodeling their home, adding on to their lanai and putting in a pool. But the feature that impressed me most was their new, tres chic outdoor privy. They even offered to let us use it, allowing us to reduce water consumption at our home 5 miles away. It's a bit of a drive, especially at 3:00 AM, but worth the effort. We now route our bike rides and shopping trips past their house, and my only complaint is that the T.P. has needed refilling twice...

It's always nice to congratulate friends on getting a new dog. In this case, it's especially gratifying, because Brad Bernardy, His Lovely Bride Leslie and their Patterdale Terrier Skeeter recently became owned by Simon, a 10 year old Dachshund. Brad and Leslie will shortly discover that the best synonym for Dachshund is "Stubborn". Good luck, Brad and Leslie!

Speaking of Dachshunds, Mike and Beth Pasakarnis (Wolf's dad and step-mom, who is a veterinarian in Plymouth, Mass.) sent us this poster for a popular antibiotic; it made me laugh out loud, because it reminded me of Rudy's ears flapping in the breeze aboard our sailboat.

Yesterday I took a long bike ride on the Withlacoochee State Trail, starting in Inverness and heading north to Dunellon and back, a 35 mile round trip. I was about 5 miles north of the trailhead when I saw a backpacker walking southbound. Imagine my surprise when I recognized the person as "Denali", the backpacker Suzanne and I had met on the Florida Trail several days earlier. What were the chances of that? Since then she had one very bad experience; she was bitten by someone's pet dog, a small white fluffy thing that approached her from behind without barking and nipped her on the ankle twice, drawing blood. Fortunately, a County Animal Control Officer found the beast and its owner and verified that the dog was up to date on its rabies vaccination; otherwise Denali might have had to undergo a painful series of rabies shots. 

Recently My Lovely Bride has taken to singing and dancing around the house to rather loud music; the neighbors haven't yet complained, but several golfers did comment that they were having difficulty concentrating when trying to get out of the sand trap behind our house. One of her favorite tracks is Fighter, from Christina Aguilera's Stripped album. I offered to get her an outfit like the one the modest Ms. Aguilera is wearing, but she replied, "In your dreams, Sailor!"  Sigh...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Friends and Food; Bread Winner; A Walk in the Park; Tree Hugger; A Very Long Walk

Suzanne and I were invited out to lunch last week with friends, Catherine Chiesa (from Gurnee, IL, outside Chicago) and Donna and Ron Virgilio who live here in The Villages. We had a great time catching up with Catherine, who has attended several of Suzanne's events, both here in TV and in Illinois, and who was staying with the Virgilios for a few days. Ron served in the US Marine Corps for six years (Ooh-Rah!) and Donna was a psychotherapist. (MLB may be looking for her to help Der Blogmeister, but that's not an appropriate subject to mention here.) 

Another meal out (is there a pattern here?) was with our good friends Sharon and Joyce (AKA Little Miss Bluetooth... see earlier blog post) at a local Italian restaurant which had surprisingly good food, in spite of the inappropriate use of an apostrophe in the establishment's name. (I will demur in naming the specific eatery in case they are offended by my grammatical stickiness, but the word Chef's may give you a clue...)    

Congratulations to Gayle Hancock, who won the bread machine recipe contest with the tastiest submission among hundreds of entrants. Gayle wins lunch for two with Der Blogmeister and His Lovely Bride.  

My Lovely Bride and I went for a hike yesterday on part of the Florida Trail, this time starting west of Belleview on the Cross-Florida Greenway. It was a Monday, so we didn't expect to see many (if any) other hikers on the trail. Being retarded... I mean, retired... gives me the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors during low-usage periods midweek. It was delightful, hiking along in mild 60-70 degree temperatures under a blue sky with a gentle breeze pushing puffy cumulus clouds above swaying pines, and the occasional turkey vulture soaring gracefully looking for a meal. Many tree limbs and branches had been bent into fantastic shapes...     

I used to be a member of the Sierra Club, when it was more of a mountaineering organization than a radical environmental/political group, and I had not considered MLB to be a tree hugger, but she proved otherwise on this hike...

An hour into our hike, after a brief stop for GORP (raisins, peanuts and M&Ms), we met a woman through-hiking the Florida Trail from end to end, about 1,200 miles. "Denali" was her trail name, and she was carrying a 30 lb. backpack, averaging 12-15 miles per day for the past two months, with about another month to go. Denali also mentioned that she was enjoying the fine weather; this was the first day in a couple of weeks that she had dry socks on all day. At one point (I think she mentioned a geographic feature called the "Impassable Swamp" near Lake City - gee, I wonder how it got that name?), she had to wade for an hour through waist-deep water. (Anyone who would like to experience that trek first-hand may contact me for directions.) Denali has also through-hiked the Appalachian Trail (2,500 miles), which she considers easier than the Florida Trail because there are hardly any other hikers here and water and food sources are often much farther from the trail than on the A.T. (Brad, please note that Denali is wearing long pants tucked into her socks. I was ridiculed by MLB for my use of this outdoor fashion statement, but as we all know, function is more important than form... tucking keeps ticks and chiggers out of your socks and skivvies!)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Visitors! Ty Got Lei'ed; An Intimate Party; Little Miss Bluetooth; Irish Pennants; Gourd Art; Teeny Sex Pistils

Having just spent last weekend at First Unity of St. Petersburg, we were happy to have a visit from Rev. Temple Hayes and her family to see The Villages. Not that St. Pete isn't a cool place, because as Temple mentioned in her welcome at Sunday services, "To get to Heaven, you have to go through St. Peter... sburg." Who knew? In any case, Temple, her partner Barbara (like me, from New Orleans, and of course, also highly sophisticated and debonair), and Temple's Uncle Jim and Aunt Brenda, two thoroughly delightful and charming North Carolinians, visited The Villages for the day. Suzanne highjacked and hot-wired a six-seater mini-van (okay, maybe she had permission to borrow it from Gloria Quigley), and we toured "the Ville" in style. Our visitors were very impressed by Florida's Friendliest Home Town, and we are hoping that Jim and Brenda decide to move south out of that terrible winter weather sooner rather than later. (Photo of stylish ladies L-R shows Barbara, Temple, Brenda and Suzanne). Also, readers would enjoy Temple Hayes new book, When Did You Die?: 8 Steps to Stop Dying Every Day and Start Waking Up. Click here for more info.

Jim and I were definitely in the minority, but being Southern Gentlemen, we were on our best behavior. I can hardly count the number of times each of us said, "Yes, sir".

We recently attended a birthday party for Lawyer Gail, seen here in a tres haute coutoure grass skirt. (It was a noteworthy event, because I got lei'ed... as did everyone else, but it wasn't that kind of party!!!) It was a small, intimate affair, with only 64 guests. One good thing about lawyers: they know how to throw a party. I'm sure there are other good generic lawyerly qualities, but none come to mind at the moment. (From L-R: Sharon, Ty, Suzanne, Gail, Suzanne's Lovely Mom Ruthie, and Joyce.)

A birthday party would not be complete without a cake, of course, and fortunately there was a yummy one at this party. Un-fortunately, for Joyce in particular, the cake in question had a blue icing that turned one's teeth bright blue. I thought about blackmailing Joyce to suppress this image, but figured it would be more fun to circulate it widely... her new nickname, of course, is Little Miss Bluetooth!

My Lovely Bride approached me with a pair of scissors today, saying, "Ty, would you please take care of this Irish pennant on my sleeve?" I replied immediately, "Certainly, my dear, I'd be happy to help." Those who have not served in the US Navy or US Marine Corps might wonder what that exchange implied... To sailors and Marines, an Irish pennant is a loose thread on a Navy or Marine uniform. The term relates to the lack of seamanlike appearance of ships from Ireland which docked in England centuries ago, with the bitter ends of ropes dangling untidyly all over the ship. A Boatswain's Mate (AKA "the Bo'sun") aboard a Royal Navy or US Navy warship would be quick to secure such flagrant examples of improper seamanship, which is also referred to by the term "at loose ends". 

We had dinner last night at a beautiful lake home in Hadley with a fascinating Canadian couple, Karen and Sandy Morrison. Sandy is a retired corporate executive, and Karen a former high level event coordinator who now creates the most amazing spiritual art out of gourds and cedar trees. Her decorated gourds have won first prize at several national competitions (we are fortunate to have one of her pieces on our dining room table) and her totem poles and other wood carvings decorate their homes here in The Villages and back in Canada. One of Karen's small carvings, which Suzanne named Odin, provided spiritual inspiration for her recently, and will be traveling with us in the coach on our summer tour. 

My only regret about our evening together was that Ottawa, their home town, has a pretty boring, non-controversial mayor, unlike the former mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, whom I like to bring up in conversations with some Canadian friends from that fair city when they mock American politicians... he and Marion Barry, the oft-elected mayor and home-town felon of Washington, DC, have a lot in common, particularly corrupt politics and a propensity to smoke crack cocaine... great role models for young people. What planet do these clowns come from?

Suzanne had a Sanaya channeling session at Unity of The Villages on Sunday past, which was the last one she will host here until late July, when she will return to The Villages to spend time with Her Lovely Mom Ruthie. It was a powerful session, and many first-timers were spellbound (as was I) by her connection with Higher Consciousness. 

Finally, the last subtitle has nothing to do with a height-challenged rock band or lady-sized handguns. Rather, it deals with a flower that bloomed on our lanai a few days ago. I think it was a Christmas camellia (Camellia sasanqua); it was very pretty, and had fallen off its stem, so I put it in a shallow bowl with water and then shot it... well, I used my faithful Nikon with macro lens and took a photo (called an "image" these days) of the pistils, the "female" sex organs of a flower. I enjoy getting into tiny subjects because they seem to me more pure and innocent than what I see in the news headlines, and they also provide a glimpse into another dimension, a delicate world without humans. (That can't be all bad.) I am reminded of something I read recently: "God did an amazing job with the Universe and Nature; too bad he didn't do a better job with Man." I think a Woman said that; I would have used "Humanity" rather than "Man", but in any case, you get the drift...