Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Isn't That Interesting! Asheville Event; Hilton Head; Early Reveille; Southern Cuisine; Gator! Marines; Gym Babies


My last post was on November 6th, two days before our presidential election. I recall an expression that My Lovely Bride uses often: "Isn't that interesting!" I will leave any comments on the results of the aforementioned election to media pundits and those readers who are (a) celebrating and dancing, (b) wailing and gnashing their teeth, (c) making reservations to move to Canada because The Donald won, or (d) cancelling reservations to a Caribbean island because Hillary lost. I personally am a member of group (e) - those who have fun watching groups (a), (b), (c) and (d) and who plan to enjoy life in the greatest country in the world no matter who is sitting in the Oval Office. "'Nuff said!"


Suzanne had a great event in Asheville at Unity of the Blue Ridge (Your Emerging Soul workshop), where Reverend Darlene welcomed us with open arms and real Southern hospitality. But before we left one of our favorite cities, we had to get in one last hike in Pisgah National Forest. As you can see by this cute young hiker's fleece, Fall had already arrived. We were too late for the height of the color change in the leaves, and many trees had already shed their colorful livery. But it was still a joy to get out in the fresh air and hike the woods and mountains of western North Carolina.








We departed Asheville and stopped to visit our dear friends Irene and Tony Vouvalides in beautiful Hilton Head, South Carolina, for two days. Here we are at dinner one night - Hilton Head has some fabulous seafood, and Tony and I were lucky enough to have lovely dates that night!












But before we left Hilton Head... yep, you guessed it... another hike! This time there were no mountains, but South Carolina's Low Country provided a beautiful setting in the form of Pinckney Wildlife Management Area. This is a kayaker's dream - easy paddling on a cool, sunny day with minimal tidal current, at least along the shore and up the narrow inlets. There were lots of great blue herons, osprey and other birds here to watch.







Arriving back in The Villages, we got settled back into our usual routine. Well, almost usual... My Lovely Bride has taken to rising early because of her busy schedule and getting out to run right at the crack of dawn. I would prefer to get some extra beauty rest, say until 0900 or so, but "that ain't in the cards these days". One of the benefits of rising with (before?) the sun is getting to enjoy some spectacular sunrises...











Now before some readers deduce that MLB is a tyrant, let me prove otherwise. Here is Suzanne looking at my plate of fried chicken livers with envy and lust... well, okay, maybe "disdain" - she likes to eat really healthy food... but after all, she did go out of her way to make them for me one night after I had mentioned to another couple that I missed that quintessential Southern dish (after all, I did marry a Yankee, but at least she is a thoughtful and considerate Yankee!) 














While walking off the previous night's epicurean delight, I passed a small pond just two blocks from our house. The photo isn't very clear because of the distance, but there is a 7-8 foot long alligator on the bank in the center of this cell phone photo. Normally The Villages calls a gator trapper to relocate these beasts when they reach 5 feet in length, but apparently this guy was visiting from a nearby swamp and went unnoticed until I called security. He was trapped and removed the next day, before he caused any serious trouble. (Coincidentally, I think this occurred the day after the Alabama Crimson Tide rolled over the Florida Gators in the SEC title match.  ROLL TIDE! (Yes, Judson, that was for you...)






Part of getting settled in our new house was putting a flagpole in the front yard. This being a very patriotic community, there is NEVER an issue with "Oh, our homeowners association doesn't allow you to fly a flag in your yard!" (Good thing, too - I wouldn't live in a place with those kind of neighbors.) We fly the US and Marine Corps flags, the latter in memory of our daughter, Sergeant Susan Marie Giesemann Babich, USMC.











There are lots of former Marines here in The Villages, and some of them are seen here in a USMC-sponsored dragon boat. The paddlers are all Villages residents, male and female, all in their late 50s, 60s and 70s. They are not required to be former Marines, but I think that they are all honorary Devil Dogs. OOH-RAH! 









I don't paddle on a team, but have a rowing machine in our home gym - which used to be called our third bedroom. While Suzanne lifts weights, I row, and Rudy and Gretchen (our gym babies) relax in their beds in the sunshine under the window. Every now and then Rudy will lift an eyelid to see if we're about done; he knows that there will be a treat for him when we finish our workouts. I tried to get him to use a treadmill once, but couldn't get the machine to run that slowly...