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Up Close and Personal; Odds and Ends; Hammocks and Philodendron; Snakes; Pole Dancers? Prezzies!

The Up Close and Personal workshop just finished here in The Villages, Florida, and about 180 very excited attendees were treated to an exciting two days with two fabulous mediums, My Lovely Bride Suzanne and Susanne Wilson, the Carefree Medium (she resides in Carefree, Arizona, near Scottsdale and Phoenix). Suzanne and Susanne met in Cave Creek, AZ, a couple of years ago, and found that they had a lot in common, both spiritually and personally. They will be giving their Up Close and Personal Workshop again on May 19 and 20 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. See for more info. 

Bev Garlipp, Suzanne’s assistant, did most of the advance planning for the event. Diane Calderon, Susanne’s assistant, flew in from AZ, and with Bev did all of the shopping for food and beverages, manned the registration table, etc. The weekend would not have been successful without their hard work. Thanks also to Meri Lynn for ensuring refreshments were always ready for the attendees and to Bob Vance for helping me with book and CD sales. (Regrets for not having gotten their photos…)

We enjoyed a delightful dinner with Bev, Susanne and Diane one evening. Susanne provided fresh shrimp from the Spanish Springs farmers’ market – she lived in South Florida for 18 years, and finds the seafood here much more fresh and tasty than back in Arizona.

Suzanne’s Lovely Mom Ruthie (aged 90!) joined the workshop for awhile and was a hit with the attendees, so many of whom have met her over the years Suzanne has been speaking at events here in The Villages! 

It hasn’t been all work – recently we went for a local hike at the Flat Island Preserve in Leesburg, FL. Surrounded by the Okahumpka Marsh, Flat Island (named because of the lack of 5,000 ft peaks?) provides a pleasant 4 mile loop trail and several side trails through lush hardwood hammocks. The term hammock describes slightly elevated land, often surrounded by marshes, that has humus-rich soil and hardwood trees such as live oaks, sweetgums, and hickories, as well as varieties of palms. 

On a spur off the main trail, a boardwalk wound through the marsh/swamp. This reflection in the water of the trees and sky above was worth several minutes of study… fortunately, there were no mosquitoes or no-see-ums around to bother us.

For those readers living in the desert, look at what you’re missing. This is a real Florida cypress swamp. Think of the neat creepy-crawlies living here… alligators, water moccasins, copperheads, snapping turtles, zillions of biting bugs, armadillos, raccoons, opossums, even black bears and Florida panthers. And often you don’t see them until you step on them! What great fun!!!!

The weather has been near-perfect for the past month. Here is a shot of Lake Sumter, where a sunken coastal oil tanker resides until it rusts away. That’s a dragon boat with a crew of Villages residents training for a race in the background. Who said retirement meant sitting around in a rocking chair?

The beautiful Spring weather has also allowed me to get out into our yard to repair some frost damage to our shrubs, plants and trees. Unfortunately, while digging a hole for some new azaleas, my trusty shovel penetrated one of the irrigation lines. Sadly, I didn’t notice it immediately – only after a big hole appeared under one of the azaleas. I first thought. “sinkhole”, but remembering a previous event on this subject, I turned on the irrigation and found that I had created an underground spring. Fortunately, we have a new Lowes just 12 minutes away where I could find the right parts.  Suzanne was impressed at my plumbing skills that allowed me to fix my own boo-boo!

The frost damage I mentioned was the result of a February cold snap that brought 24F temps. One of the most damaged plants was this philodendron (Philodendron bipinnatifidum) – what a cool name! With some careful pruning and TLC, it is recovering, and the second photo looks much better than the first.  (Yes, I do talk to plants!)

Our back yard is adjacent to a golf course. Recently we took a sunset stroll along the golf cart path. We always keep Rudy and Gretchen on very short leads -they are always looking for squirrels, but the pesky rodents must have been out at the acorn bar.

Another reason to keep our puppies on short leads is so that they do not find some of the less friendly local residents, like this 3 foot long snake… it may have been a poisonous copperhead, but I didn’t want to get that close to ask him his name.

As the last rays of the setting sun were splashing through the massive live oak grove, Suzanne again displayed her enSuzyasm, saying with great glee, “We live here!” I echoed her happiness with a quiet, “Yes, and it’s gotta be better than Boston with three feet of snow this week…” 

My Lovely Bride recently called me up while she was shopping, and asked if I minded if she got a rather large angel statue for the garden. Being a sensitive, New Age-kinda guy, I thought about it for a moment and said gently, “Of course, My Sweet, you can get an angel statue… as long as I can get a statue of a pole dancer.” There was a silence on the line, and then I heard, “We’ll talk about it when I get home…” In any case, Angela now resides near the philodendron I mentioned previously.

Shortly thereafter, this cartoon appeared in our local newspaper… and I reminded MLB that I was still looking for just the right statue for my part of the yard, but when I found her, she would be called Angelique. I think that’s a very tasteful name…

Finally, lest some women think that I am a total misogynist Neanderthal, I will have you know that I often get Suzanne surprise gifts (affectionately called “prezzies”). Why, just recently, I ordered her 40 of her favorite Pilot G-2 07 pens. (Hey, the diamond and sapphire bracelet I wanted to get her from Neiman Marcus was sold out.) Even I was amazed how grateful and excited she can get when I am truly thoughtful…


  • Anonymous
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 2:56 pm

    Nice job on the plumbing fix Ty. We recently had a malfunctioning frost free ground faucet that needed some TLC. A $20 Lowe’s visit and some utube videos did the trick. My plumber father would be proud of us! Brad

  • Ty and Suzanne Giesemann
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 3:00 pm

    Brad, Yep, it feels good when you complete a plumbing repair, but even better when you turn the water back on and it doesn't leak!!!

  • Anonymous
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 10:47 pm

    True dat! When I went to the Water Dept. to ask about a billing adjustment, they wanted to see a receipt from a plumber. Told them I was a plumbers son and didn’t need one! They gave me some credit back…

  • Ty and Suzanne Giesemann
    Posted March 21, 2018 at 10:51 pm

    "True dat"??? You sound like a Nawlins boy (which I am… or is it 'am I'?)… I should have thought of asking for a credit when we were away for 6 months and I got an irrigation bill for several hundred bucks! Too late now, Kemosabe! (Oh, BTW, did you see the pic of the Lone Ranger and Sen. Pocahontas? Priceless!)


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