I recently celebrated (not sure that’s really the most accurate verb in this case, but it will have to do) another birthday. My Lovely Bride gave me a bunch of prezzies, including this shirt, which displays man’s development over millions of years from an ape to the pinnacle of evolution – that of a humanoid being owned and led by a Dachshund. Believe me, that is indeed the ultimate proof of success in natural selection, and Rudy in particular reminds me of it every day.
Did I mention that Rudy and Gretchen are Master Present Openers? At first our little boy dog performed solo in this capacity, but now we find that he has trained his little sister as well. This is what the living room floor looked like after just 5 minutes of work on their part…
On Friday we motored down to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa for a special dinner out with our friends Bill and Gayle Hancock. Suzanne’s brother Brent had told us about Bern’s Steak House, and we decided to make the trek down to the big city and see if the 5 star reviews given to this restaurant were accurate… and they were! We all agreed that the steaks and the onion soup were the best any of us had ever had.
Bern’s also has the largest private wine collection in the world, around 500,000 bottles. That is not a misprint. We got a brief tour of the cellar, only a miniscule part of which is shown here. (They actually bought a hotel across the street to house the main part of their collection.) I wanted to sample the really good stuff, but when our waiter mentioned that one of the more expensive bottles went for $15,000, I decided that I was quite content without tasting that vintage. All in all, it was a memorable event, not just a meal, and we hope to return one day just to make sure the chef is consistent…
While out for a w-a-l-k in t-o-w-n with Rudy and Gretchen one cold and foggy morning, we happened upon this Hyundai parked just in front of our car. You may note that some miscreant had parked almost four feet from the curb (kerb for you Brits). It was one of the worst parking jobs ever, but all I could say was “Isn’t that interesting…”
Speaking of walking (and hiking), My Lovely Bride is getting more serious about our training program for the Camino Santiago next Fall. We are taking weekly hikes around The Compound (the inmates’ term for The Villages), complete with 15-20 lb backpacks, and I know she plans on increasing both the frequency and the length of these forced marches as the months pass. Her “EnSuzyasm” never fails to impress – and exhaust – me.
While on that particular hike, we were passing a Recreation Center just a couple of miles from our house, when I looked at an unclothed sunbather relaxing on the side of the retention pond about 50 feet from the parking lot. This svelte native Floridian was just waiting to meet some unsuspecting golfer looking for his errant ball, or for a golf cart driver taking a stroll along the pond shoreline… I called the rec center to report this non-taxpayer, and a rather bored receptionist only woke up when I said “… and it’s about five or six feet long… you might want to have someone relocate it.”
There are a plethora of small ponds around our community, and an early morning reveille allowed me to find nice lighting and colors at this one in the Village of Amelia, only a mile from the house. It was still cool, so the critters were not yet out sunbathing.
Finally, I have to briefly recount a bizarre experience at one of our Villages clubs. These are mostly innocuous events, but I had been told that one particular meeting (which shall go unnamed for reasons which shall become obvious) would be interesting. I attended and listened in stunned silence while several speakers spoke about the potential for the National Security Agency (NSA) to record and listen in on innocent civilians’ cell phone calls and Internet surfing under the guise of fighting terrorism. Several conspiracy theorists believed (and stated out loud) that the NSA might even want to know about your gynecological history (or perhaps my potential for flatulence?), and we should all hope that in the next election, the forces of Good will conquer the Evil Intelligence Empire and disband the NSA, CIA, DIA and probably even the Military Industrial Complex. I felt that I was in a parallel universe where lessons from history, logic and common sense had been vacated for mass hysteria and absurd paranoia. I tried saying under my breath, “Isn’t that interesting…” and managed to keep from laughing out loud until I could return home and be cleansed in a cloud of sage and a scalding shower… I should also mention that in my capacity as a naval officer for 26 years, I worked with the intelligence community on thousands of occasions, and the NSA in particular during a four year period, and I found them all to be totally professional and dedicated to protecting our country and obeying the law.