I feel sorry for those of you who have not had the joy of sleeping with puppies. I say “puppies” even though our Rudy and Gretchen are now middle-aged dogs, because they are still puppies at heart, and puppy-sized as well. Even when Darkest Winter has descended upon The Villages, and temperatures hover around 30F for hours at a time, we can always rely on our puppies to keep us warm at night. Well, I can… since they both sleep on my side of the bed, pressed close against me for hours at a time. Every night is a Two-Dog Night in our house. And we sleep pretty soundly… usually… but occasionally our blissful slumber is disturbed. The other night, Rudy had a really bad itch… the bed was shaking with his scratching. It was like being in one of those no-tell motel massage beds back in the 70s. My Lovely Bride asked me sleepily, “How many quarters did you put in?” (We took poor Rudy to the vet the next morning where he was diagnosed with a recurring allergic reaction, and he’s now on meds and on the road to recovery.)
On Monday we loaded up The Coach and headed down to St. Pete, where Suzanne was on a women’s panel at First Unity of St. Petersburg, along with Rev. Temple Hayes, Michelle Phillips, Janet Connor, Simran Singh, and Thelma Petas. It was an… interesting… evening. Everyone else seemed to enjoy it. As for me, even though I am a Sensitive, New Age Kinda Guy, I felt a bit overwhelmed, being one of only a handful of males in the room with dozens of women baring their souls and discussing how they cope. Next time, I may opt for a meditative session at Starbucks.
I had hoped that on Tuesday morning,I would be able to do some fishing from the beach at Fort De Soto, where our campground was located. This park had been recommended by My Good Friend Bob, who had visited last year and said it was a delightful place. Bob did not tell me that you had to use a shoehorn to get your coach into the campsites, which are mostly designed for single-man tents. It was indeed beautiful, but the place was full of sand. Who knew?
Fort De Soto, named after Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto (dashing guy at right), was built by the US Army to guard the approaches to Tampa Bay, and as you can see, is rimmed by white sand beaches surrounded by turquoise-green shallows, reportedly teeming with fish asking to be caught and eaten. I had brought my fishing rod, knowing that this was my best chance in months to settle the score with the finned creatures that had mocked me during our summer trip out west. Alas, it was not to be; the fish were safe for another day…
Tuesday morning found us getting underway from our campground very early (like at sunrise) to beat a line of severe thunderstorms rapidly approaching from the Gulf of Mexico. How bad was it? Well, as I was sitting in the nice, dry coach driver’s seat warming up the engine, Suzanne was outside on the two-way radio guiding the coach out of our extremely tight campsite ringed by overhanging trees. I heard her say, “The sky is turning green. It’s getting blustery. Can we get this show on the road, please? I’m about to get drenched out here!” “Yes, Ma’am, we’re movin’ now!” She made it inside the car just before the trees began dancing in 40 mph gusts and the sky opened up. It was raining so hard the windshield wipers were complaining about being overworked.
Fortunately, we had planned on an early departure, and were able to find an uncrowded Waffle House for our favorite breakfast while the storm spent most of its fury. One of the servers at WH was complaining to one of her co-workers, “I ain’t got nuthin’.” Suzanne smiled at her and asked, “Do you have love?” The exchange continued… “What?” “Do you have love?” “Well, yes, I do.” “Then you have everything you need.” The lady’s face then lit up with a big smile.
Husbands who have been happily married for a week or more will probably understand this story. The other day, My Lovely Bride was sitting at the dining room table where we have our computers, and was fiddling with her iPhone. Whatever she was doing was not going smoothly, and she was muttering under her breath. I recognized this as “Not a Good Sign”. Visions of hundreds of dollar signs began running through my mind. And sure enough, I heard, “Darn phone… so old… can’t keep up… music takes forever to load… will only hold 400 songs… camera won’t work… FaceTime won’t load… not enough memory… Ty, Sweetheart, I need a new phone; can we go to the phone store right now?” I was doomed. I suggested my usual solution of duct tape and a hammer, but she said that wasn’t going to cut it. Like I have stated in previous blog posts, a husband’s best course of action in cases like this is to (1) say, “Yes, Dear”, (2) seek emergency assistance from a 20-something techie; (3) break out his wallet, and (4) throw handfuls of twenty dollar bills at the problem. It worked. My Lovely Bride now has a brand-new iPhone 5s with 16gb of memory (that’s more than the entire computing power of the United States in 1961, the year she was born). It also has a fingerprint reader for security; no more Stone Age password required… and it has more apps than anyone over 50 could ever figure out, or need. I could get along with a simple cell phone for emergencies, but who would be caught with something so crude these days?
On the subject of culture, English majors, anyone who has read Shakespeare, parents, concerned citizens, and anyone interested in the decline of American culture may find this article interesting: http://www.city-journal.org/2014/24_1_urb-humanities.html. It describes how UCLA has removed their long-held requirement for English majors to study Shakespeare, Milton and Chaucer, in favor of more “relevant” subjects like gender, post-colonial, and disability studies. Junior faculty members apparently complained that Shakespeare was part of the “Empire”. Also, they demanded more options for video-based learning, rather than asking students to read books. “Excuse me? Aren’t students in college supposed to read books?” I may be a curmudgeon, but I can’t help but think that the American education system is approaching a tipping point when “institutions of higher learning” don’t require students to learn the fundamental underpinnings of Western civilization.
For more traditional readers, here are two quotes from the Bard of Avon:
“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, because both are infinite.”
“Time is very slow for those who wait
Very fast for those who are scared
Very long for those who lament
Very short for those who celebrate
But for those who love, time is eternal.”
Fortunately, free access to Shakespeare’s entire works are readily available on MIT’s web site, far from The Left Coast, at http://shakespeare.mit.edu/. It’s amazing to see that MIT engineers and scientists can appreciate Shakespeare far more than UCLA English professors…
Word of the day: Narcissism, excessive self-admiration and self-centeredness; a widespread abnormal psychological condition prevalent in American liberal arts academics in the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. There appears to be no cure other than removal of funding.