Our last post had us back in The Villages, Florida, our “home port” for the winter. We are not “snow birds,” since we keep our house year round and Suzanne travels back several times during the summer to visit her mom Ruthie, AKA “The Bridge Shark”. Winters are also very busy with Suzanne’s work as an evidential medium. December found her hosting one of her mentors, Mavis Pittilla, a British medium who is one of the “rock stars” of that select group of people. All of Mavis’ events were very well-attended, and Suzanne is pleased that Mavis will be returning to The Villages the last week in March.
This was Mavis’ group of enthusiastic students for her mediumship class held right here in The Villages.
We had the pleasure of a visit from two of our favorite people, Irene and Tony Vouvalides, from Hilton Head, SC. They came down to celebrate Tony’s and Ty’s birthdays, which are just two days apart. We gave them a golf cart tour of The Villages, and they were impressed by our home town, if not by Ty’s skills in driving a golf cart (which we had to rent – we are one of only four families in TV that doesn’t own a golf cart.
Speaking of birthdays, this was almost my last one… seems that My Lovely Bride told me that I had to start following her birthday tradition of running one minute for each year – that gave me a 69 minute run to complete, but we added a couple of minutes to make it a 6.9 mile run. She even ran with me to make sure I didn’t take a 45 minute nap along the route. Darn that girl…
We have had some great weather down here in Central Florida, and some spectacular sunsets, but no snow! I think on this particular day, it was -8F in Coon Rapids, and 81F in The Villages… sorry to rub it in, Terri of the Frozen North!
One of the highlights of the Christmas season here is the annual Model Train Show – the club of the same name takes over a huge recreation center and fills eight large rooms with model trains, a hobbyist’s dream. This was one of the larger displays…
Suzanne is the daughter of a train engineer. Bill Smeltzer started on the Pennsylvania Railroad shoveling coal in the ’30s, and became an engineer for Penn Central and Amtrak, driving the Broadway Limited and the Main Line west of Philly. In fact, this was a model of one of his engines. My Lovely Bride can still do an awesome train whistle… woo-wooooo!!!!!
This is the season to get together with friends, and another dinner out was enjoyed with Michele and John Uss, from Connecticut, but now living in America’s Friendliest Hometown. We had a great meal at the Arnold Palmer Country Club. Michele and John also were extraordinarily helpful in helping Suzanne with Mavis Pittilla’s event at Temple Shalom. There was one funny moment when we walked up to them and Suzanne said, “Michele, I have an outfit just like that!” (Seems that they both shop at the same boutique, Patchington – in fact, Michele even models their clothes! Good thing they didn’t wear the same outfit, eh?)
Winter also gives us mild, sunny weather for kayaking on the rivers and spring-fed streams of Central Florida. Here we are enjoying the Withlacoochee River near Inverness with Bob and Jan Blythe. Water levels were down about four feet because of the drought affecting the southeast US. Surprisingly, we didn’t see any alligators – and no, I didn’t put Suzanne in the lead just in case there were ‘gators lurking!
Another kayak outing took us to Lake Panasoffkee. Here is My Lovely Bride looking pretty dapper in her 15 ft NC kayak.
It’s always amazing that five minutes from the put-in, it seems like you could be in the wilds of Africa – there is rarely anyone else in sight, except for birds, turtles and splashing fish.
Finally, lots of people “from away” make fun of the wild reputation that our town has. Okay, maybe there is some drinking and sex going on here; retired folks know how to have fun just like their grandkids, right? This photo captures a bit of the unique lifestyle here in The Villages. The owner of this fancy “street rod” is advertising for a mate (full- or part-time?) with a sign in the window… “Vacancy – Apply in Person”.