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Where are the giraffes? No Hippos Here; A New Book in Hand; An Early Thanksgiving; Prizes!

Suzanne’s good friend Elizabeth just returned yesterday from a three week trip to Africa. Of course it was a real adventure, but that’s not the basis of this story. When she got back home, there was a painting awaiting her, one that she had commissioned from Portland, Oregon spiritual artist Barry Mack. (See Elizabeth called us over to enjoy the opening and hanging (gee, that sounds kind of ominous, doesn’t it?).

After the painting was hung on the wall, Joseph asked, “What the heck does that have to do with Africa?” We were all taken aback, until we found out that Elizabeth hadn’t told Joseph about the painting. When it arrived hours after she returned from her trip, Joseph thought that she had had it shipped from Cape Town, South Africa, her last stop. (Nope, there sure aren’t any elephants, lions or giraffes in that painting.)

This photo wasn’t taken in Africa, but it felt like being on the Congo River as we paddled up the Withlacoochee River near Inverness the other day. (I let Suzanne take the lead in case there were crocs along the bank or hippos about to surface under us… oh, heck, I hope she doesn’t read that!)

 Just in case you are a member of PETA and think the hippopotamus, Greek for “river horse”  (Hippopotamus amphibius) are cuddly, friendly creatures, they are actually one of the most aggressive and dangerous animals on the planet. (There is a resemblance to a certain governor of a state south of New York and east of Pennsylvania, but I digress…)

Your Intrepid Correspondent is here shown with a steely look designed to strike fear into any attacking hippo, croc or cannibal. Fortunately I was not required to defend our convoy against anything more aggressive than a few mosquitoes.

We paddled up the river past cypress trees and hardwoods full of Spanish moss, with only turtles, a brace of alligators, egrets, herons, anhinga, and a solitary kingfisher to admire, until a noisy air boat came hurtling down river, sounding like a plane taking off. Fortunately it did not return upriver to spoil our return paddle, which was completed in the silence.

Speaking of “In the Silence”, My Lovely Bride received the proof copy of her latest book of that name Tuesday evening as we were leaving for a neighborhood Thanksgiving dinner. Isn’t that a beautiful cover? In fact, it was designed by My Lovely Daughter Elisabeth!

She only had a few minutes to look at her new book before we arrived at Coconut Cove Rec Center and sat down to a great feast prepared by two of our Mallory neighbors, Pat Rinaudo (at right) and Kathy James (at left) with their husbands Frank (munching down) and Jim (laughing). Thanks, Ladies, for a fabulous dinner!

Other friends at our table were Yoga Lady Diane Green and her husband Russ the Tennis Terror. Here Frank Rinaudo (a Sinatra fanatic and diehard Dallas Cowboys fan – what a combination!) has taken a break from his dessert to smile for the camera. I think he was still recovering from Sunday’s drubbing that Dallas got from the New Orleans Saints, my home town team.

Not only was the food delicious, but Team Giesemann won a prize (a box of Oscar chocolates from Athens, Greece) for the most words – 104, to be exact – created from the phrase “Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends”. We would have gotten more, but we were time-limited. It helps having an author on your team! Russ also won a prize for coming closest to guessing the number of pieces of candy corn in a bag. The prize was – yep, you guessed it, the bag of candy corn – and he doesn’t even like candy corn, the poor guy.

Speaking of prizes, the winner of last week’s photo caption prize is Dale Hilliard, of La Otto, Indiana. Dale’s caption, “Lo-feet-a, if we just stand here we’re not walking, I guess that should be alright.” was selected from thousands of entries. Dale and His Lovely Bride Becky win dinner with us aboard The Coach when we return to La Otto next summer. (Dale was my shipmate aboard the battleship USS IOWA (BB-61) back in 1985-87.)

We were able to award another belated prize on Wednesday to Lynn and Bailey Spence for her correct answer to a now-forgotten quiz from this past summer. Here we are at Waffle House, which Lynn has never visited (in spite of the fact that she claims to be a Southerner, and even has a Southern accent – its authenticity has yet to be determined). Suzanne tried to describe the WH Code for breakfast orders: pull one bacon, drop 2, mark one… but its details still remain a mystery. Our favorite item, hash browns scattered and smothered, were, as always, fantastic, and I have not been able to replicate them at home, sad to say.

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