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Soo-Shee! Sugar Rush; Salsa in the Groves; A Three Star Dinner; A Mohawk; “Uh-Oh”

My Lovely Bride has this thing for sushi. I think maybe in a previous life she was Japanese. Her excuse is that having lived in Japan for three years, she became addicted. She is almost uncontrollable when it comes to raw fish on rice. Not just any, everyday fish on rice, but very fresh, sushi-grade fish with a dab of wasabi on really good sushi-grade rice. She will tell you that sushi chefs take longer to learn to get the rice perfect than they do in getting the fish right.

As it happened, we were invited over to have a glass of wine before dinner with our good friends Catherine and Henri, who had also invited Michelle and Jim along. After arriving at our favorite sushi restaurant in North America, VKI Japanese Restaurant and Steak House in Sumter Landing, Suzanne explained that we don’t even place an order anymore; the sushi chefs know what we want, and start preparing our sushi as soon as we walk in the door. Henri wasn’t a fan of sushi, and opted for more familiar Teriyaki. Catherine, Michelle and Jim were brave newbies. Dinner arrived, and it appears that Catherine is enjoying hers, although it could be that she is about to try a hunk of wasabi the size of a pecan, which could cause this unwary diner to levitate off her seat and stop breathing for a few minutes. (Who would do something that silly?) Everyone seemed to enjoy their dinner, and perhaps we have converted three of our friends to sushi-lovers.

While we are on the subject of food (yes, it’s a recurring theme here, particularly after my week in the desert eating freeze-dried lasagna), here is one of our favorite breakfasts that I make, French toast with strawberries and bacon. As shown here, Suzanne prefers hers with maple syrup and just a teeny-weeny dusting of confectioner’s sugar. I prefer just a little syrup and a pound or so of sugar. Maybe that’s why I’m a bit wired after breakfast, although 4 cups of coffee might intensify the sugar high…  ya think?

On Wednesday, we escaped the cold snap in The Villages and took The Coach south for an hour to Clermont, Florida, where we stayed a night at Lake Louisa State Park. (It’s very similar to Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, but the mountains aren’t quite as high.) The park is big, and has several thousand orange trees scattered about. They were full of fruit, and as we mountain biked on very sandy trails through the woods and orange groves, I heard music. At first I doubted my auditory senses, but as we approached a pickup truck and trailer, the music got louder. It was Hispanic salsa, and was blaring at top volume from the truck’s speakers. There were five or six workers hand-picking oranges from the trees and carrying laundry baskets full of fruit to the trailer behind the truck. I thought that these oranges would probably be showing up in my fridge within the week, transformed into OJ.

That day’s bike ride was TOUGH. It’s not that the trails were steep, but they were often 90% sand, and if you’ve never biked through deep sand, it’s a chore. This perky trail rider is smiling now, but in a few moments was muttering “sailor words” as she struggled to keep up her speed when the grass turned to sand.

On Friday evening we were invited along with Bob and Jan to dinner at Gayle and Bill Hancock’s new home in Bonnybrook. They extended and enclosed the lanai, added on three picture windows and a stone patio to the back of their house, which now has The Best View in The Villages. They are also sited right at the tee box, and fortunately haven’t had any Close Encounters of the Golf Ball Kind.

Bill is a retired Navy 3-star admiral, and Gayle a long-suffering and supportive Navy wife who has as many, if not more, fun stories than her husband. We were in stitches as Gayle told us about being the only gaijin (foreign devil) riding on a train in Japan in the 70s, when she got off for a few moments at a stop, just to get a drink of water. All of a sudden, the train started to pull away unexpectedly. With her purse and passport about to disappear, Poor Gayle had to leap through a window onto the laps of several startled Japanese passengers, while muttering “Gomenesai!” (I’m so sorry!) It was a fun evening, and we even got to enjoy the Hancocks’ hot tub. They got used to having one in Virginia and using it even when it snowed. Fortunately, the snows here were very light this week…. Gayle’s gourmet dinner was fabulous, and Bill’s sea stories (he was captain of a destroyer and cruiser before being selected for Admiral) reminded me of my exciting days at sea.

My Lovely Sister-in-Law Janice sent us a photo of her newly-rescued Dachshund, Tiki. She had just taken Tiki to the groomer, and asked that his Mohawk be retained. He is the Coolest Dog of the Week!

Finally, here’s a story that should remind husbands of the importance of remembering dates. I was walking the puppies through our campground, and met a couple from Leesburg. He related that they had only been married since October 15th. His wife’s head snapped around, and she said, “No, the 19th. I’ll bet you remember your first wife’s anniversary!” He replied defensively, “But Honey, we had been married for 40 years; we haven’t even been married six months!!!”

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