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Family Time; A Delightful Concert; Geo-Quiz Winner; French Islands; Fenced In!

We have been fortunate to have Suzanne’s sister Janice visiting this week from West Chester, PA. She is staying with mom Ruthie just 3 miles away, but Suzanne has been able to spend lots of sister time with Janice, including several shopping trips to Belk… we may have to get a larger bus to load the additional clothes Janice has convinced Suzanne to add to her wardrobe. Here are Janice and Suzanne smiling happily while taking a tour at Brownwood. (This was one of the few trips that produced no shopping bags, so I was smiling as well.) 

Janice is also a very accomplished singer, and offered to give a concert at the Mission Hills assisted living home near The Villages. It was very well attended, and there were many damp eyes when the residents heard her sing classic favorites like “Strangers in the Night”, “The Shadow of Your Smile”, “All of Me”, and other tunes familiar to the appreciative crowd. 

Most of our meals were at home, but we had a traditional “visiting dignitaries” meal at Oakwood for barbecued ribs… that’s something that you just can’t do as well at home… at least I haven’t developed that skill set. Here are the Smeltzer Girls eagerly awaiting their ribs and chicken. When we returned home, our wiener dog Rudy was particularly interested in licking my fingers. “The Nose Knows”… 

Now it’s time to announce the latest Geo-Quiz Winner… “Maestro, drum rolls, please”… Our good friend (and faithful reader) Daphne Montouri, of Scottsdale, Arizona, seen here at last summer’s Messages of Hope Tour event in Scottsdale, is our latest award winner. I thought about flying Daphne and her husband Bob to Paris for a celebratory get-away weekend, but decided that instead, Corvette Chick and I would try to meet them in Scottsdale or an as yet undisclosed location for drinkies and munchies at some later date. (Hey, hold the comments about my being a stingy prizemaster, please…). 

Congratulations to Daphne for sending in the first correct answer of several hundred… (well, actually, there were only two correct answers; Peter Lee was the runner-up). But Daphne correctly identified the French islands of Miquelon and St. Pierre off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada.  (To read the original quiz, see the April 22nd post).

Suzanne and I visited these lovely (but cold and foggy) islands aboard our sailboat Liberty in 2003. The average high temperature in August is only 65F. They do have one tremendous advantage: shopping for wine, cheese and pate is just like being in mainland France; the selection was amazing, especially after a month of cruising the south coast of Newfoundland with limited grocery availability. Here is Suzanne trying to decide on what to buy… 

St Pierre and Miquelon, as a department of France, fly the French tricolor, but their unofficial flag includes the flags of the three regions from which most inhabitants originated (Basques, Bretons, and Lower Normans) as well as the Grande Hermine, the ship said to have carried explorer Jacques Cartier there in 1536. 

We have been doing lots of maintenance on The Bus the past couple of weeks, and have it about 80% loaded for our upcoming 5-month adventure. To get it off the street, yesterday I drove it over to our storage facility about 7 miles from our house, and carried my mountain bike on the back to get some extra exercise. When getting ready to depart for home, I had neglected to plan correctly for exiting the storage facility, which has one of those automatic gate openers that is activated by your car. My bike and I didn’t quite meet the weight threshold for the actuator, so I had to climb the fence, open the gate from the outside, and retrieve my bike… when I told My Good Buddy Bob about this fiasco, he suggested that he follow me while I ride my bike back there (a 14 mile roundtrip) to recreate my misadventure so he could immortalize me on film for the blog… I thanked Bob for his gracious offer, but I decided to have a beer instead.  

I have also been trying to catch up with my house work list, including sanding and resealing the driveway pavers. A quote of $600 from a local contractor made me decide to do it myself… after all, how hard can it be, I thought? Well, after a trip to Lowe’s for supplies and several days of cleaning, sanding, sweeping and rolling on sealant in hot, humid weather, we have a nice looking driveway, but in 3 years when it needs resealing again, I may look up that contractor… 

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