Winter has ended here in America’s Friendliest Hometown, AKA The Villages, Florida. We are back on the road again, but first let me recap the past month or so…
Suzanne held a joint Back to Your Center Retreat with Dr. Mark Pitstick (far right), in St. Petersburg. Mark is a spiritual teacher, author, counselor, and chiropractor who serves on the board of Helping Parents Heal. Thanks to Irene Vouvalides (in the Carly’s Kids shirt) for this great photo!
I managed to get out for two short backpacking trips recently. The first was on a section of the Florida Trail in Ocala National Forest, where an ongoing drought has caused most of the water sources to dry up; this “prairie” is normally studded with small ponds full of water, but the only water sources I could find were muddy puddles.
The second trip was on the Florida Trail on the Cross Florida Greenway. This section of trail was lined with bright green deer moss (Cladonia rangiferina), also known as reindeer lichen. It is not a moss, but a fruticose lichen, and in addition to being a primary food source for reindeer in the far north, it is also used by some Himalayan people as a cure for kidney stones or diarrhea. It is edible, but more palatable when mixed with berries. (I had plenty of trail food, so didn’t try eating it in either of its forms.)
What I did avail myself of along the trail was a can of Dr. Pepper from a cooler of Trail Magic provided by a generous local resident and hiker. Thoughtful people like this renew my faith in humanity! The water jugs are particularly important because of the paucity of water sources along the Florida Trail.
Oenophilia – No, Bob, it’s not a rare disease that you wouldn’t want to catch… in fact, it’s actually quite a pleasant affliction. Let me explain. As I mature, like a fine Bordeaux, I find that I am enjoying an occasional glass of nice wine – mostly for its positive medicinal value. (My Lovely Bride is snickering in the background. “Suzanne, please quiet down – you are disturbing my train of thought!”) In any case, we recently had a group of retired Navy friends over for a wine tasting and dinner. Bill and Gayle Hancock and Mike and Cheryl Breault are oenophiles – serious wine lovers and collectors – and we sampled some excellent French and California wines that evening.
The Breaults also have expanded their beautiful lakeside home to add a dedicated wine cellar – we were blown away when we saw it! It makes most restaurant wine cellars look puny by comparison.
The reason for going over to see Mike and Cheryl’s wine cellar was to pay for a new piece of “furniture” that we acquired – this was their old wine cooler, which is now in our house, but which is seriously underfilled (there are only about 20 bottles in it, but its capacity is 350). Bill, hope you’re not suffering from “cellar envy”!!!
Speaking of Navy friends and oenophiles, we drove over to Titusville on the Atlantic coast to catch up with our sailing friends Greg and Marie Rodgers, also known by their boat name, Second Sally. As I recall, they have been cruising the seas for over 20 years, and their boat name reflects the second “sally”, or extended trip, they have made on cruising boats over the years. They are two of the most accomplished sailors we know, with several Atlantic crossings under their belts, and are also fine wine enthusiasts. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at a Cuban/ Mexican restaurant near the water. (Okay, Greg, I forgot to ask… is that a Hemingway beard you’re growing? In any case, you look very distinguished!)
During one of Suzanne’s out-of-town trips, I took the liberty of making one of my favorite down-home New Orleans meals (one that MLB does not share a love for) – a fried oyster po-boy, accompanied by a Fat Tire amber ale and a Moon Pie. What a feast!
Suzanne has been giving presentations locally as well. This was a large group of several hundred residents at the Del Webb community who enjoyed her presentation about the transformative power of hope.
In our off time, we are getting back into kayaking, as shown here on a trip to nearby Lake Okahumpka (yep, that’s its name all right… almost as bad as Coon Rapids, Minnesnowta.) The weather has been perfect here – 70s and 80s, mostly sunny, hardly any rain (oh, and of course, no snow…). We’re taking our fiberglass kayaks with us this summer and hope to get them wet often out west, including on Perdido Bay, the Pacific Ocean, Puget Sound and the Willamette River.
Suzanne’s mentor and friend, Mavis Pittilla, was back in town recently to teach another session of her highly acclaimed mediumship course. Mavis (in pink), her partner Jean, Suzanne and Bev Garlipp are seen here.
Mavis and Suzanne also did a joint demonstration of mediumship here in The Villages for an audience of over two hundred, who were treated to evidence of life after death. The evening culminated in the two of them doing a double link, where both connected with the same gentleman on the other side.
One of the students in Mavis’ class was Daniel Chumillas, an editor at Esfera de los Libros in Madrid, Spain. Here we see Suzanne signing a contract for the Spanish translation of her book Messages of Hope and worldwide distribution in that language.
Final preps for our six month summer tour completed, we took a last look out of our picture window at the oak grove behind the house… we will miss it, but look forward to mountain scenery and meeting new friends (and some old ones) on our trip out west.
We are on the road again! Today’s blog is being posted from Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, where we are hunkered down waiting for a line of severe thunderstorms with hail and tornadoes to pass. This screen shot with lots of brown and red shows some serious weather passing directly overhead as I write this.
Unfortunately, we had to change our route and postpone a visit to Tuscumbia, Alabama, because of the storms. We had hoped to get together there with our great friends Judson and Donna Jo Emens, and their daughters Haylee and Nadia; fortunately, our route back home in October will take us through northern Alabama. See you guys in the Fall, and Roll Tide!