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Jet Lag; Two Lusty Gals; Dogs in Bags; A Concert Out; Winter Park; No Xena Outfit for Suzanne; What Is She Doing?

As I age (somewhat gracefully, one hopes), jet lag is getting tougher to take. For almost two weeks after our return from New Zealand, while My Lovely Bride adapted very quickly and slept like an angel, I was awaking between 0200 and 0300, and often not getting back to sleep at all. I would go for long walks in our neighborhood, when the only other humans out were the community watch and the newspaper guy. It wasn’t all bad – middle of the night walks are great for reflection, listening to music (headphones, not a boom box held up to my ear, although the boom box option would have provided an extra upper body workout and given my neighbors an opportunity to enjoy my music… hmmm…), observing the night sky and sunrise, and of course the benefit of exercise itself. But sleep is a glorious invention, and my mental state was suffering more than usual from the disruption of my circadian clock. After all, 0200 is when the body is normally enjoying the deepest sleep of the cycle.

Finally back on a regular sleep schedule, we are back in the routine of Life in The Villages. One of our favorite pastimes is mountain biking, and last week we loaded our trusty Giant bikes on the car’s rack and drove to Santos Trailhead. We were a half hour into our ride, having seen nary a single other rider, when we stopped for a water break. We heard wheels behind us, and through the woods came a young couple wearing Team Giant jerseys. Jess and Joel Nankman were obviously professional riders, and as we chatted, we noticed that their bikes were basically the same as ours, although theirs were the top-of-the-line professional models and ours a notch or two below; the guys were riding Giant Anthems and the women Giant Lusts. Of course we joked about the girls being “lusty”. (You just can’t make this stuff up.) Based in PA, Jess and Joel travel around the East Coast racing for Team Giant (the men’s team) and Team Liv (the women’s team), living out of a van with their Lab Clifford. Both of these riders have dozens of trophies and podium finishes to their credit, and we truly admire their skill and stamina. 

Speaking of dogs, our Dachshunds Rudy and Gretchen are glad to have us back from New Zealand, although we wondered whether their surrogate parents Marc and Maureen would dog-nap them before we got home. We learned from neighbors that our puppies were even more spoiled by our dog/house-sitters than by us, and there were some hang-dog expressions on the puppies’ faces when M&M left to return to North Carolina. If we ever go away on a trip again, we’ll know who to call to make our pups happy. We recently took Rudy and Gretchen out on hikes to the Cross-Florida Greenway and to Sumter Landing, carrying them in our backpacks. We would have walked them beside us, but Rudy in particular cannot go five feet without sniffing and marking his territory. 

We got to visit the new Sharon Morse Performing Arts Center here in The Villages for an Amore performance by renowned tenor Fernando Varela and his amazingly talented wife Susan Williams. Here we see Suzanne and Her Lovely Mom Ruthie in our front row center seats (I happened to see the ad in the paper on the day the concert was first announced, and ran down to the ticket office to be first in line for this splendid performance.) We also enjoyed the inspired pianist William Joseph and an amazing violinist, the lovely Molly Rogers.


We were able to get away”off the compound” for a day trip with friends “to Winter Park, FL, near Orlando. Gayle and Bill Hancock (on the left) and Donna and Ron Virgilio (on the right) were great companions for lunch at a Turkish restaurant (awesome naan bread), a visit to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum (world-famous collection of Tiffany glass, but no photos allowed, darn it!), a brief stop at the Wine Room for teeny libations, and a grocery run to Trader Joe’s. Thanks, Ron, for being the Designated Driver!  

While in Winter Park, we saw several unusual trees in the town’s Central Park. I think this one was designed to stop our Rudy from marking it… ouch… talk about cruel and unusual punishment!

The weather here in central Florida has been glorious, warm sunny days and cool nights, even better than that in Minnesnowta and the Northeast. Yes, Terri, I know that Coon Rapids (center of the Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul Dogsled District) has been having a heat wave courtesy of El Nino; and our good friends Mike and Beth Pasakarnis (Wolf’s parents) have been enjoying some decent weather in Mashpee, Mass, on Cape Cod, after a recent snowstorm. After seeing the extensive glacial valley-cutting in New Zealand during our recent trip, I won’t belabor the arguments against global warming, but simply say that warmer winters are not necessarily all bad. These smiling tourists are obviously not chilled to the bone.

Valentine’s Day provided an opportunity to take My Lovely Bride out for a fabulous dinner at the Arnold Palmer Country Club here in The Villages. The food was exceptional and my date was beautiful. What more could a guy ask for?

On a sad note, I have to admit to failing on one of my important assignments while Down Under. Before we left, our dear friend Terri of the Frozen North (TOTFN) asked me to find one of her childhood heroines and get an autograph. I looked and looked, but could not find Xena Warrior Princess or her blonde sidekick Gabrielle; and given their leather and steel outfits with sword and spear, they should have been easy to find. Maybe they had taken a vacation to Ely, MN, to go ice fishing… but not in those skimpy clothes! (I offered to buy Suzanne a black warrior princess rig like Xena is wearing, you know, for special occasions, but got a Harumph! and a Smack! for my initiative. Sigh…)

Finally, this photo of My Lovely Bride working at our kitchen table provides a bit of mystery… what IS she doing??? The answer suggests yet another reason in addition to my jet lag why I have not been blogging as often as usual lately.  More info to follow in days and weeks ahead…

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