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Jazz Club; Decommissioned; Our Babies; Ugly Pavers; A Sister Visits; VIPER! Glass Art and Humor; Tiramisu or Quinoa? Beautiful Music

Suzanne and I don’t get out much after dark, so when we got an invitation to join friends for a Jazz Club night out, we jumped at the chance. We joined old friends Bill and Gayle Hancock, in foreground, and new friends Judy and Bob on the left and Sue and John on the right, for a delightful evening of jazz at the Laurel Manor rec center. It was BYOB and F, and while we were okay on food, I was crestfallen to find that Bill’s bottle of La Storia Zinfandel was far superior to the middle-of-the-road Cabernet I had brought. (I tried siphoning off his “good stuff” and replacing it with my swill, but being a retired Navy Vice Admiral, he is much too sharp for that trick… especially since he probably tried it once or twice himself early in his distinguished career… sigh). 

Speaking of my Navy past, I had a major maintenance project to complete (to be discussed later in this blog), and wore my favorite old tee-shirt, this one dating back to when I was commanding officer of a destroyer. The shirt commemorated our six month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea in 1988-1989 with the Kennedy aircraft carrier battle group.  Like the ship for which it was named, after 25 years the shirt had faithfully completed its last assignment. The seams were starting to come apart, the material was see-through in places, and oil stains made it unwearable in polite company. I had to make the sad decision to retire the shirt from active duty, so after the project was completed, it was decommissioned and sent to the mothball fleet. The parallel with the fate of old sailors like myself is also recognized… 

On the subject of clothing, I had to take this photo of Rudy the Sailing Wiener dog napping on his Dog-Dad’s fleece sweater. Rudy is My Best Buddy, and he sleeps next to me at night – and I mean pressed up tight to my back, so I guess he likes my scent, whether in bed or on my sweater. (I wonder if I smell like a dog to him… maybe I’d better not go there…) 

Of course, I have to give equal time to Rudy’s little sister, Gretchen. They are actually not related, but to save long explanations, we haven’t told them about that fact. Gretchen sleeps by my knees; being a Dachshund, she likes to burrow, and is more sensitive to air conditioning than Rudy, who prefers to keep his head on my pillow. 

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot about the project. Suzanne’s sister was coming to visit, so I had to power wash the lanai and the driveway. The pavers out front had begun to host large colonies of grass and ants during this past wet summer, so out to work I went. The before and after photos tell it all… well, almost all. Not seen is the “crick in the neck” I earned for having to look down at my feet for hour after hour, and the mildewed feet and mud-splattered legs from the high pressure water spray. 

Friday was a very special day for our family; Suzanne’s Lovely Sister Janice arrived for a weekend visit, and she brought her Delightful and Debonair Boyfriend Steve, who is more fun than a barrel of monkeys. Steve runs his own business, has a great sense of humor, and is very cool… what makes him so cool, you ask? Well, how many guys do you know who have raced their own 500 hp Dodge Viper? Or sold his Ferrari to a guy in Japan who lost his V-12 Italian sports car in the tsunami? Steve is so cool that his home garage (5-car, no less) is better fitted out than a lot of car dealerships; he even has two lifts and a small machine shop… and has totally rebuilt and re-engined cars himself. Steve now drives a more sedate set of wheels… a Hummer H2. Still, very cool…

Steve is also a hugger. Here he is making big points with Suzanne and Janice’s Lovely Mom Ruthie out on the deck at Gator Joe’s in Ocklawaha. We introduced Steve and Janice to gator tail bites and hush puppies, receiving mixed reviews, but they are from up in the Frozen North, after all, so what do they know about Southern delicacies? (Delaware isn’t quite as cold as Minnesnowta or Alberta, but it’s just a matter of degrees, so to speak…) Steve appeared to enjoy our warm Florida sunshine, and got into trouble with his friends back home when he texted a selfie of himself and Janice out in front of the Waterfront Inn, with palm trees swaying in the background… it was 38 F back in DE.

We took Steve and Janice on a tour of The Villages, including a Glass Fusion Club exhibit at Seabreeze Rec Center, where we looked up our favorite glass artists, Joyce and Sharon (above Happy Hour sign). They are really serious about their craft, even getting their own kiln so they could create glass treasures 24/7. Kilns will “bake” at about 2,000 degrees F… wow, you could bake chocolate chip cookies in a minute or two, right?

Joyce was even thoughtful enough to make Your Faithful Correspondent and Frequently Futile Fisherman a special Christmas tree ornament. I’m not sure, but I think I heard Joyce say, “Ty, here’s the biggest fish you’ll catch all year…”. (Behind that innocent face lurks an evil sense of humor.)

The finale of weekend events came with a family dinner at our house followed by dessert and music. Michele and John Uss were able to join Ruthie, Janice, Steve, Brent and Cheryl as our guests for dinner. We then moved to the Uss residence for delicious tiramisu and Key lime pie. Michele is a fabulous cook, and was kind and thoughtful enough to offer me the choice of tiramisu or four varieties of Quinoa. It was a tough decision, but the quinoa lost out. 

Beautiful music followed dessert. Michele is musical director at Temple Shalom, and a very accomplished musician; John himself is a former bandie, but sat out tonight’s event. With Suzanne on flutes (C and bass), Michele on Clavinova and Janice as guest vocalist, these three talented ladies regaled their audience with Broadway hit songs and pop favorites from the 50s and 60s. 

The performance ended with the obligatory group photo to memorialize the fun evening we had enjoyed. (Please note Annie, the 7 month old Shiatsu on Michele’s lap. Annie was the surprise hit of the evening – I’ve never seen a dog with such energy.) We are hoping that Janice and Steve had so much fun that they will come back very soon for a longer visit!

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