I returned from my backpacking trip on Monday afternoon quite exhausted from lack of sleep due to my nocturnal visitor, and I’m not talking about Kelly Clarkson, but the bear mentioned in the previous blog post. But 24 hours after returning to the puppies, I was ready to pah-ty… I had an invitation to dinner with Lynn and Bailey Spence. Lynn is a fabulous chef, and I was determined to arrive hungry, so I skipped lunch… and I never skip a meal. Lynn didn’t let me down. Her bacon-wrapped dates, Waldorf salad, roast pork, acorn squash and fried okra were just what the doctor ordered to restore me.
Lynn also ordered an aerial display for my benefit; not the Blue Angels, but a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). I was unable to get a photo of him (her?) in flight, but the owl was kind enough to pose long enough for a still life or two… This species has amazingly acute vision, but cannot turn its eyes like a human does; it rotates its head up to 270 degrees – in the second photo, the head is rotated about 180 degrees. (In the Navy, that’s called “Check Six”… telling a fighter pilot to look directly behind his aircraft, usually because an enemy fighter is approaching in his blind spot…)
And yes, in response to a querulous reader, I did actually take these owl photos with the zoom lens on my pocket camera, a Canon PowerShot SX170IS; the critter sat on a power box for about ten minutes before flying away (he had a huge wingspan, by the way… typically 3-5 feet for mature adults).
Here are several photos from the Awakened World Film Festival in Santa Barbara, where the Messages of Hope documentary was screened on Thursday afternoon; Suzanne and filmmaker/producer Chris Lavelle are seen here quite literally “basking in the limelight”… and it is well-deserved!
Suzanne was honored to have Rev. Temple Hayes, Spiritual Leader at First Unity Church of St. Petersburg, introduce her and the Messages of Hope documentary at the Film Festival. Suzanne has spoken at First Unity on several occasions, and has been warmly welcomed and received by Temple’s congregation.
With Suzanne on the road, I took the opportunity to go out on a date. Suzanne’s mom Ruthie had never been out to eat at Brownwood, a new town center in The Villages, so we took the opportunity to try the Spanish appetizers at Las Tapas, whose chef (actually from Spain, of all places) was highly regarded. With the help of our pleasant server, Heather, we ordered mahi baked in paper with mushrooms and onions, stuffed Portabellas with spinach and Manchego cheese, shrimp with garlic aioli and chilis, and mussels with garlic, onions, parsley, cilantro and sherry. Every dish was delicious. By the way, Heather relocated to The Villages from Las Vegas, Nevada, to help care for her grandparents. Ask for her when you go out to eat in Brownwood; you won’t be disappointed.
I had hoped that over the summer, drivers here in The Villages would have improved their parking skills, and I could retire the “Parking Hall of Shame”. Nope, didn’t happen. Look at the particularly inept/disrespectful/dumb/inconsiderate way this guy parked his truck. Unfortunately, there is no rapid reaction tow service here… and where are the cops when you need one?
Even worse, where are the English teachers when you need one? Driving over near Spanish Springs, I was behind this furniture truck – its advertisement was driving me crazy! What’s so hard about learning how to use an apostrophe????
Coffee lovers, take note. I am in coffee heaven. A retired Air Force friend, Bill Bayer (the guy on the right), sent me a vacuum-packed bag of Potencianacafe roasted Arabica coffee beans from his non-profit’s coffee plantation. His organization’s mission is to improve the lives of young girls and women in Costa Rica through education, health care, job training and micro-enterprise initiatives. Their first harvest primarily went to Starbucks and Green Mountain, but the highly “cupped” (a rating like wines get) Potenciana will be available to consumers in the future. Get more information, and see how you can help make a difference in young peoples’ lives at www.bettergrowth.org
This next topic was an unpleasant surprise. Two days after I returned from my hike, I started itching, and found that that I had been bitten about 70 times by chiggers, nasty little juvenile mites. I had put DEET bug repellant on my arms and legs, but these little devils got into my unsprayed socks and down my shirt. The DEET was highly effective where I used it, but the bugs were apparently smarter than this hiker… sigh. Oh, and yes, there were many areas in The Forest with mosquitoes, but the DEET kept them off my skin; they were merely an annoyance, buzzing around my head.
One of the few benefits accruing to me while My Lovely Bride is in California is that I can eat whatever I want. Dessert the other night was Breyers French Vanilla ice cream with Hershey’s Chocolate Sauce, liberally applied, right out of the (near-empty) carton. “Ty, where did it all go?” “I don’t know, My Dear, maybe it evaporated???”
Finally, we have a report from the Greater Coon Rapids, Minnesnowta, Metropolitan Police Department that a person dressed as Big Bird in a respirator has been terrorizing residents in that fair burgh… er, city. This photograph is being circulated so that Neighborhood Watches can report the prowler and have her arrested. (Of course, she will probably spin some yarn about being in a Halloween costume, dressed as an Ebola nurse refusing to obey quarantine orders…)