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Mom’s Home! A New Old Tower; A Monarch; Sunset; A Surprise Lunch; Lumpia, Pancit and Moussaka?

My Lovely Bride has returned home from her Unity Village Retreat in Kansas City. She had a fabulous experience with her group of retreat partners, but when we picked her up at the airport, Gretchen and Rudy showed how happy they were to have her back home. (Yes, I was happy, too, but I think our puppies got in a lot more kisses than I did.)

We had visited Unity Village in May during our road trip in The Coach, but it looked and felt very different in November, with leaves turning and a cold snap in the air. Here are Bev Garlipp and Jan Blythe trying to look warm. At least it was sunny and not snowing!

The Tower (literally) was where Suzanne held her retreat. Recently renovated (the elevator hadn’t been used in 20 years), The Tower’s bottom floors hold administrative offices, and the higher up you go, the more spiritual are the settings and events. Suzanne’s was held on the top/seventh floor, which I thought was very appropriate.

While walking the other day, I took time to smell the roses. Well, they were flowers, anyway, even if I couldn’t identify them. But as I was about to snap another simple flower photo, a Monarch butterfly came into view. The little beauty sat on the flower stem for a couple of minutes, folding its wings, then opening them, and maybe nibbling pollen. Having never watched a butterfly eat, I wasn’t sure what I was watching. In any case, it was a special moment. Monarchs (Danaus plexippus) are also known as milkweed butterflies (that is all their larvae eats), but I think they prefer to be called Monarchs, for obvious reasons. Their Latin name is interesting; in Greek mythology, Danaus was a great-grandson of Zeus, and founded Argos; Plexippus was one of the 50 sons of Danaus’ twin brother Aegyptus. While most of the Monarchs migrate to Mexico for the winter, there is a significant minority that winter-over in South Florida. (They don’t earn as many travel miles, but it’s much safer here in The Villages than in Mexico.) 

Sunset is coming earlier now that Daylight Savings Time is put away until Spring. Rudy and Gretchen had asked me to take them to Sumter Landing for an evening walk while Suzanne was out of town, and on the way, the sky lit up… fortunately I had picked up my camera just in case.

Weight-wise, we are both still recovering from our recent trip to Greece. Your Fearless Correspondent was much more indulgent than His Lovely Bride, and I gained about 4 pounds, while Suzanne only bulked up an additional 2 from daily servings of baklava. (Maybe I shouldn’t have used the term “bulked up”. Smack!) Anyway, we have been working out heavily… I mean, more frequently… since we’ve been back, and the pounds are starting to come off. As we started our late morning bike ride yesterday, Suzanne said, “I have a surprise for you; I’ll lead.” I interjected, “Hey, shouldn’t we bring a snack bar? I’m getting hungry.” “No, Ty, we’ll be fine.”

So, off we rode, with my stomach growling a complaint. But as we approached a normally vacant lot next to a hotel on FL-466, she said, “Relief is in sight!” I was amazed… no, stunned… to see a mobile kitchen with a sign for Filipino Cuisine! We met Ryan Belen and his father Fred who had just started their catering business; we were among their very first customers.

Here is Suzanne ordering lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) and pancit (noodles and chicken). The lumpia was especially delicious. What is funny is that we both learned to love Filipino food while serving in the Navy. Most of my ships had Filipino cooks aboard, and there were many ashore where Suzanne served as well. We even had lumpia and pancit at our wedding luncheon, and every time we roll into a military town, we look for those dishes, almost always in vain. You can reach Ryan at

Lastly, I also have to give My Lovely Bride credit for her home cooking. Here she is slicing, dicing and whipping up a Greek moussaka from scratch, complete with fresh veal, eggplant (melitzana), potatoes and tomatoes. We had no retsina (cheap Greek wine aged in pine barrels with a definite turpentine taste), but she did manage to find a decent Kendall Jackson chardonnay that went very well with the moussaka.

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