What a fine evening with friends… Busy day chopping and dicing…

Our long-time friends Maury and Peggy joined us for dinner last night at Houlihan’s in Chanhassen. It was great seeing them, and it was a lovely evening. The three hours we spent together flew by in the blink of an eye.

No words can express how enjoyable it is to see old friends during this extended period in the US. Last evening, we met old friends Peggy and Maury. We knew Peggy in 1991 when she married the now-deceased Lane, a friend we’ve surely missed. But, a year later, Peggy met Maury, and their union and eventual marriage were ideal.

Both enjoy traveling, and they particularly love traveling in the Midwest. We often see photos of them on Facebook in quaint little towns, seeing the sites and dining in historic restaurants and establishments. Although we travel outside the US, they’ve made retirement as enjoyable for themselves as it has been for us.

By 8:30, we were back at the hotel. We changed our clothes, got comfortable, and watched a movie, which ended around 10:15 when I was off to bed, reading the news on my phone. I had another fitful night’s sleep but finally, around 6:00 am, fell back to sleep for another 90 minutes.

For tonight’s dinner with leftovers for Monday and Tuesday, yesterday we picked up groceries from Cub Foods to make a beef stir-fry with peanuts. This morning, I began chopping all of the ingredients, including:

  • Red, green, and yellow bell peppers
  • Celery
  • Onions, yellow
  • Portobello mushrooms
  • Green onions to top each serving when served, including one ounce of dry roasted peanuts
  • Sirloin steak slices
  • Fresh minced garlic
  • Fresh minced ginger

Tom will use white rice as a base for the stir fry, while I will use riced cauliflower. We’re also adding various Asian sauces, such as wheat-free soy sauce, hoisin sauce, fish sauce, and various spices, such as pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, sesame oil, and salt.

I made a marinade for the meat using the above seasonings. After cutting the meat into bite-sized pieces, I placed it along with the vegetables in the refrigerator. I’ll cook them later, just before dinner. I will first sauteed the garlic, ginger, celery, yellow onions, and mushrooms in sesame oil until al dente and then add the meat.

When the meat is medium rare, I’ll add the remaining ingredients, including the bell peppers, which, again, I won’t cook until tender to ensure a bit of crunch, along with the green onions and peanuts topping. It will be a tasty dinner that we’ll savor for a few days.

It’s a relief to have all the chopping and dicing done. The remainder of my day will be easy and relaxing. It is a sunny day, and soon, I’ll get outside to walk. We hope you have a pleasant and relaxing day.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 29, 2014:

We know this is a banana farm when we see these blue bags on the banana trees. They don’t use pesticides; instead, they use these blue bags to keep insects off the bananas. The first time we saw the blue bags was the day we arrived in Belize, many moons ago. For more photos, please click here.

Memorable evening and dinner with new friends in Brownwood Paddock Square…Antique car show photos…

We had a fantastic time meeting this lovely couple, Terry and Rich, last night. We met at the bar and City Fire and then walked a few blocks to Cody’s Original Roadhouse for a great dinner and conversation in the lively establishment.

We recently mentioned that we couldn’t meet people in The Villages as easily as in Marloth Park. Last night was the exception, and I can eat my words today.

When we noticed weeks ago that few people approached us when we were sitting at any bar at one of the many restaurants in The Village’s various town squares, on several occasions, we initiated conversations, but usually, it was a person by themselves, not a couple. Generally, couples were with other couples, and we didn’t interrupt.

Here is a mid-1970s Cadillac Eldorado, my favorite. Tom identified all the cars shown today but wasn’t sure about a few of the dates.

But last night was different. Since the antique car show was going on, many people were busy walking around looking at the cars, and for a Saturday night, we wondered if we could get two seats at the bar. No sooner than we walked up to the outdoor bar, we found two barstools and plunked ourselves down, thrilled to be able to sit.

This is a mid-1970s Cadillac Eldorado Convertible.

I ordered a glass of Wiliam Hill North Coast Cabernet Sauvignon, and Tom ordered his favorite new beer, Yuengling, popular in the US. We talked and laughed, reveling in our time in The Villages and how much fun we’ve had seeing so many friends since we arrived.

This is a Pontiac Firebird Formula One the late 1970s.

Two barstools opened up next to us a short time later, and a couple sat down. After getting situated and ordering their drinks, Tom leaned over and said, “How are you two doing?”

They both responded enthusiastically and from there, a lively conversation ensued between the four of us ensued. They are Terry and Rich, a lovely couple who lives in Maryland but purchased a house in The Villages last January. They are going back and forth between their two homes until they decide to make it more permanent.

By 6:00 pm, we were getting hungry and asked if they’d like to join us for dinner at Cody’s Original Roadhouse, a three-block walk from City Fire. Again, Terry and Rich enthusiastically stated they’d be happy to join us. We’d chosen that restaurant after reading their menu online, and each of us liked several options.

From left to right, a 1930s Ford Convertible, then a mid-1950s Ford Thunderbird, and the orange is a 1958 Chevy Impala.

We walked a few blocks until we reached the restaurant. Without a reservation on a Saturday night, it could be busy. We only had to wait about ten minutes and were seated at a table. The conversation continued while we munched on peanuts at the table and enjoyed our drinks. I also switched to iced tea, as Terry had, while the boys continued enjoying their beer.

This is a mid-1950s Buick Century.

The restaurant’s ambiance was playful and lively, and we’ll be returning there soon. The service was excellent, and the food was good, better than we’d had at some other nearby restaurants. When the bill came, we realized Rich planned to pay for us. We often insisted we pay our share, but he stayed firm on his decision.

We’ve been to so many antique car shows over the years we spent little time perusing the vehicles. This is a Chevy Caprice, maybe 1969 or 1970, according to Tom.

As we left the restaurant to walk to our respective vehicles, their car, and our golf cart, we stopped to do a group selfie, as shown in today’s main photos. We hope to see them again before we leave, but they only come to The Village every so often on weekends and may not return while we’re still here. In any case, we hope to see them again and be able to reciprocate for the dinner.

We said our goodbyes with warm hugs and were on our way. We didn’t return to the house until almost 9:00 pm. Shortly later, Terry sent me the photo she took of the four of us on Facebook Messenger. We’d already friended each other earlier in the evening.

What a great night!

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 25, 2013:

This old, well-preserved bridge, Ponte delle Catene, was the highlight of our visit to Bagni di Lucca, Tuscany, Italy. For more photos, please click here.

Fantastic day with a dear friend from the 1980s…Louise sent a precious photo from Marloth Park…

Our dear friend Lisa on the left, and her friend Vicki on the right. We had a fantastic day and evening!

Yesterday was delightful, seeing our old friend Lisa, whom I met in the 1980s in Minnesota. Now a Florida resident, it was such a pleasant surprise to have an opportunity to see her again. The last time we saw Lisa was in 2017 when we got together with her and her now ex.

Over the years, Tom became a good friend of Lisa’s too, which has been the case with many of each other’s friends since we met almost 32 years ago. How fortunate we are to have such good friends all over the world. And now, being in Florida, having the opportunity to see many of those friends.

Lisa’s friend Vicki, whom we met for the first time, also from Minnesota, drove here with Lisa, almost a 90-minute drive, and we had a fantastic day with the two of them. They arrived at 1:30 pm, and we all sat in the comfy living room and chatted, reminiscing over many experiences we had together.

We felt terrible for Vicki having to listen to our seemingly endless trip “down memory lane,” but she was a good sport and laughed along with us over our many memories. The time flew by quickly, and by 4:00 pm, we headed out in Lisa’s car and headed to City Fire in Brownwood Paddock Square.

With no available seating outdoors, we headed inside the restaurant and were seated at a booth where we ordered drinks and later dinner. Again, the conversation flowed with ease, interspersed with much laughter. It was a lovely evening. By 8:00 pm, we returned to our house and said our goodbyes.

As it turns out, Lisa will be in Minnesota while we’re there in September, and we’ll definitely get together again. This time we’ll be in Minnesota a little longer than usual while we await our upcoming cruise to Galapagos, and we’ll have more time to get together with old friends. There are so many people we’d love to see once again.

Also, while in Minnesota, we’ll be appearing on TV on a morning news broadcast scheduled for September 22. We’ll update you and post the details and a video when the time comes.

On another note, this morning, after our walk, we called dear friend Louise in Marloth Park, South Africa, to wish her a happy birthday. It was wonderful talking to her. After we spoke, she sent me a photo that made me squeal with delight, as shown below:

This photo was taken at Louise and Danie’s home in the bush; Norman, Nina, Natalie, and the Babysitter (a female bushbuck who follows them as they roam their territory).

Louise told me that Nina was pregnant again. Before we know it, the Nyala family will consist of five members: Norman, Nina, Noah (who was scooted off to his own territory when Natalie was born), Natalie, and the new baby, who should be born shortly before we arrive next June. An unrelated female is being released in the bush as a mate for Noah, which miraculously, he will surely find. Then, there will be more babies.

Yes, I know, I sound like I really miss the bush, and I do. But, we are enjoying each day in The Villages as they come and look forward to our upcoming adventures in the meantime. In no time at all, we’ll be back on our way to South Africa.

Today, we’re hanging around the house, and we’ll head to Brownwood late this afternoon for another evening of fun and dinner. Most likely, tonight, for a change, we dine at one of the other restaurants in Brownwood.

Have a fantastic weekend, and be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 24, 2013:

Tom, dressed for warmth on a chilly day, enjoying time on the veranda in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy. The WiFi signal was so poor there that we had to be outdoors for a decent connection. Nonetheless, we had a great time. For more photos, please click here.

More stormy weather…Ten years ago…Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy…

This Bed and Breakfast is a few hundred feet from our door. See the post here.

With storms moving through each day and the golf cart being our only means of transportation, we haven’t been out yet this week. The last time we were out was dinner on Sunday night with Lea Ann and Chuck when we returned to the Blue Fin in Brownwood Paddock Square.

I am getting a touch of cabin fever, although we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the past days staying in. We always do. A few days ago, Tom asked me if I was bored. I assured him I am not bored at all. He isn’t bored, either. We always seem to be busy when we stay in, totally entertained.

Here it’s 10:00 am now. Tom has been talking to daughter, Tammy, in Minnesota for the past hour, and I’ve got laundry going. As soon as he’s off the phone, we’ll walk since it’s not raining right now. Yesterday, we missed the walk due to the weather. It was windy and rained all morning.

Initially researching Boveglio, we were excited that this bar and restaurant was within walking distance. Unfortunately, we never asked the owners of our house, Lisa and Luca, if it still was in operation. It has closed down as a public facility, now occupied by its owners. The economy has spared no small businesses in Italy, as we discover as we travel the world.

If the rain stays away for a few hours, we may head out to go to the post office. I have been ordering a few things from Amazon to take on the upcoming cruises. Usually, Amazon delivers directly to us at the house. But, the items I ordered were from an outside vendor, and they only shipped for free using the United States Postal Service, which doesn’t deliver to the houses in The Villages, which is weird.

Instead, there are mailing stations at each of the various villages, and snail mail for us comes to the Fernandina postal station, which is about a ten-minute golf cart ride. We’ll head out once our Kroger grocery order arrives today between 11:00 and 12:00 am.

We love getting our groceries delivered. When I go to the big supermarkets in the US, I buy too much since I am in awe of all the products I haven’t been able to buy for the past several years. By shopping online, I am less tempted to buy products I may not be able to use in time before we depart.

The houses across the street from us.

It’s been fun shopping online at Kroger. When I notice I am low on a particular item, I add it to my Kroger shopping cart on my phone or laptop. We can use coupons online by simply clicking on the coupon. The credit card we use to purchase groceries has a program whereby they offer discounts on grocery items as they are purchased. We’ve saved hundreds of dollars since we’ve been shopping online while here.

On July 14, dear friend Karen is picking us up to return to their new home we haven’t seen. We’ll spend the weekend with her and Rich, and she’ll bring us back on Monday. We appreciate her willingness to transport us both ways when it’s a two-hour drive each way. We’re excited to see their new home on a river and enjoy what surely will be a fun weekend with them.

Tomorrow, our dear friend Lisa (we’ve been friends since the 1980s) and her friend Vicki will arrive at 1:30. We’ll hang around here for a while and then head out to dinner. We’re also looking forward to seeing Lisa again. We hadn’t seen her since 2017 when we all went to dinner in Minnesota.

Flowers were blooming near our exterior door.

We loved seeing our friends here more than we ever expected when we booked the house in The Villages. We’ve had a great time with our old and new friends.

Tonight, we’ll finish our Chinese food left from yesterday’s takeaway and have another pleasant evening. Life is good.

Be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 22, 2013:

In this area, a diagonal line crosses the village’s name as one leaves a village. Notice the hairpin sign, one of many on our ride down the mountains to Collodi, the town large enough to find groceries, a pharmacy, supplies, and sundries, roughly a 30-minute drive from Boveglio. For more photos, please click here.

Difficult to meet new people…No more company coming until Friday…

When they returned to the property on Saturday night, holiday home renters in Marloth Park found this genet (wild cat) sleeping on their bed. This photo was posted on Facebook’s Marloth Park Sighting Page.

We’ve had a great time seeing so many friends since we arrived in The Villages seven weeks ago. With only a little over five weeks to go until we leave, we hope to see more friends and, if possible, make new friends while we’re here. We anticipated it would be easy to meet people when we go out to dinner on our own, but we’ve found it’s not as easy as you’d think.

Using Jabula Lodge and Restaurant as a reference for meeting people hasn’t served us well. There, it’s so easy to approach and be approached by other guests at bars and restaurants to engage in lively conversation. The commonality of loving nature and wildlife is an easy segue to initiate conversation and lively banter.

But, here, many locals are part of well-established groups and don’t seem to initiate or respond to communication from strangers like us. This was the same when we lived in the US almost 12 years ago. We could go out for years and never meet new people.

If we ask a question in an attempt to initiate a conversation, the response is usually a one-sentence answer, and the respondent goes back to what they were doing or otherwise private conversation.

Wildlife…in The Villages…a giant snail.

We still have many people we could contact to get together, but time is going by so quickly we may not get to everyone. Plus, we are enjoying free time for just the two of us with the easy pace of daily life. In the last two weeks, before we leave on July 28, we’ll be busy sorting and packing since we’re sending a suitcase to Minnesota to lighten our load for upcoming domestic flights we’ll be on in the next few months.

Once the two cruises are over, with the final cruise disembarking in Boston, we’ll see my cousin Phyllis for dinner one night, and then we’ll fly to Nevada and Minnesota. Tom is checking costs for baggage right now as I write this to determine if shipping the bag makes financial sense.

As it turns out, the excess baggage fee for multiple flights is $374. If we ship one bag to our upcoming hotel in Minnesota by a company called “Luggage Free,” we can save $186.

We brought one extra bag to accommodate the almost one year we’ll spend in South America, including warm weather clothes and safari clothes we’ll need for our various wildlife adventures.

Also, we needed to bring warm clothes for our time in Norway, Greenland, Iceland, and Canada, where it will be cold even in the summer months. Then, when we get to Nevada, it will be sweltering in the summer months, as high as 110F, 43C. Most of the time, we’ll be indoors at the Green Valley Ranch Spa and Casino in air-conditioned comfort, but we’ll be heading out to dinner with son Richard, and to the DMV to renew our driver’s license.

Fortunately, we could now book appointments for our driver’s license renewals. Several years ago, we couldn’t do that, and we had to get in a long queue outdoors for over an hour. This time, with an appointment, we should be able to enter the building upon arrival.

Tonight, we’re staying in for dinner and a quiet evening of streaming our new fantastic binge-worthy drama series on Apple TV, The Morning Show. If you haven’t seen this series, I assure you, it’s well worth watching.

Have a great day, and be well.

Photo from ten years ago today, June 20, 2013:

See the two blue chase lounges at a distance at the house in Boveglio, Italy? That is another patio for our sunning time every few days. Due to the dense vegetation, there are lots of bees. Tom and I both have allergies to bees, thus limiting our time in that spot. For more photos, please click here.

Happy Father’s Day to Tom, our sons, family members and friends…

Today, Father’s Day is celebrated around the world in many countries. I wish I could have made this day special for Tom, but we decided not to fuss over our birthdays and holidays long ago. We don’t have room in our bags for gifts, and spending money on cards and decorations makes no sense.

Usually, I make a special meal and dessert for Father’s Day, but today, our friends Lea Ann and Chuck are arriving at 3:00 pm, and a few hours later, we’ll be heading out for dinner to one of the town squares. Since Lea Ann is a pescatarian, returning to the Blue Fin in Brownwood Paddock Square makes sense; where we dined with Karen and Rich on Friday night and enjoyed an excellent dinner.

What is a pescatarian (for those who don’t know), it is the following:

“The pescatarian diet is a vegetarian diet that includes fish or other aquatic animals. The word “pesce” means fish in Italian, so those that emphasize fish in their plant-based diets have come to be called by this term. Sometimes these healthy eaters are also called pes-co-vegetarians or pescetarians.”

Pescatarians eat the following:

Pescatarians Do Eat

  • Whole grains and grain products
  • Legumes and their products, including beans, lentils, tofu, and hummus
  • Nuts and nut butter, peanuts, and seeds
  • Seeds, including hemp, chia, and flaxseeds
  • Dairy, including yogurt, milk, and cheese
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Eggs

Nowadays, it is essential to ask what type of diet works for guests coming for a meal. They’ll have dessert with us tonight when we return from the restaurant and breakfast in the morning. Depending on when they’d like to go out, I may make a cheese, vegetable, chip, and dip platter at the last minute. I have plenty of items that will suit Lea Ann’s way of eating.

Tom, in the archway at the 300 year old stone house we rented in 2013. See the post here.

They, too, have been traveling the world extensively over the past few years, and although they have a home in Florida, they are frequently on the move. We met them on a cruise in 2017 and have stayed in touch since then. Early on, they picked our brains for world travel tips.

In no time at all, they had it all figured out. It’s been fun to see their countless excellent posts and photos on Facebook and their website, found here. They’ll sail on a world cruise from December 2023 to September 2024. It will be fun to follow along with them. What an adventure this will be for them!

We’ve often thought about doing a world cruise for many months (in their case, nine months), but both of us feel that for us, such a long cruise will detract from the enjoyment of shorter cruises which still are a novelty to us. Being on a ship for so long doesn’t appeal to us, but someday I may eat my words.

Many of these world cruises sail to many locations where we already sailed, so there would be a lot of redundancy. It will be fun to hear Lea Ann and Chuck’s feedback when it’s over, which I am sure we will.

This morning we walked, had a lovely breakfast of mushroom, cheese, and onion omelet with bacon, and laundered our bedding. Yesterday, we did the guest room bedding and cleaned the bathroom, and everything is ready for our next round of guests.

Since we don’t have a house cleaner more than once a month, each morning after breakfast, I clean the kitchen. The only issue I have with doing so is the front of the refrigerator which is stainless steel, and every little smudge or fingerprint shows. I can’t stand for it to look dirty, and cleaning it without streaks is a real challenge.

The best solution I’ve found so far is using a stone and steel cleaner the owner has available here and spraying only a tiny amount, and then wiping gently with paper towels applying only a small amount of pressure. If I rub too hard, it streaks. Go figure. Please let me know if any of our readers know of a better solution. We’ve never experienced this issue.

That’s it for today, folks. To all the dads, have a special day with your loved ones.

Be well.

Photos from ten years ago today, June 18, 2013:

This is the 300 year old stone house we rented in Boveglio, Italy, for three months beginning on this date ten years ago. For more photos, please click here.

Day #183 lockdown in Mumbai, India hotel…It’s a whining day!…

Prior to sunset these flowers in their yard caught my eye. The combination of the pink and peach coloration is truly a gift from Mother Nature, whom we dearly appreciate.

Today’s photos are from the post on this date in 2013, while we were living in Diani Beach, Kenya. For more on this date, please click here.

I am struggling to make myself sit down and write those 2000 word posts using keyword phrases as required by our web developers. Not a procrastinator, generally I attend to tasks in a timely fashion. But, I’m not sure what’s keeping me immobilized in regard to these three remaining posts.

Only moments before we left for Hans’ and Jeri’s home, we were finally able to snap a photo of the female to the little yellow birds that are so shy and quick that we’ve had trouble getting a shot. Apparently, their reticence is due to the frequent attacks by viscous blackbirds. Only a few days ago, Hans showed us where a blackbird had snatched baby birds out of a nest.

Could it be that doing so requires me to break away from our usual afternoon respite where we escape by binge-watching some favorite shows? When preparing these long posts, on top of the usual daily posts, my motivation is literally non-existent. Also, I’m still trying to work on the corrections on the past 3000 posts. I started in 2012, working my way forward beginning on page #148, and today, I’ll start with page #124. I have a long way to go when the most I can do in a day is one full page of 20 posts.

Gosh, I tell my usually motivated self, I did get our tax stuff done and sent to the accountant in plenty of time. Gosh, I worked with the developers on resolving seemingly endless changes over the past 60 days. Gosh, I’ve spent endless hours researching possibilities for us to get out of here, all to no avail, as did Tom. Gosh, I don’t feel like spending an entire afternoon writing a contrived post of 2000 words infiltrating the necessary keyword sequence as frequently as possible.

We arrived at our landlord’s home before sunset to find Hans preparing the fire on which to cook our dinner.

Sorry if I sound like I am whining, whinging, or complaining (whatever such words are used in your locale). But, I am. Each day, after working on and uploading the daily post, which, by the way, I enjoy doing, I am done, done, done. This wasn’t the case in our lives of world travel, in the days before lockdown.

If this project was presented to me then, I would have made my way through it in five days…five 2000 word posts. But, now everything is different. I can’t take a break and escape by jumping up and getting the laundry out of the washer to hang outside on the clothesline. I can’t head to the kitchen to chop and dice vegetables for dinner (or for wildlife).

Hans built a roaring fire to which he later added a grate in order to cook a full beef tenderloin without the use of charcoal or lighter fluid. Check out that moon smiling down on us!

In our travels, we never binge-watched shows during the day. That was an after-dinner or bedtime pastime, winding us down after another pleasant and often exciting day. In Marloth Park and most other holiday homes, we rarely turned on the TV or streamed a show during our entire stay, while now, it’s on all day (with the sound off and captioning turned on) to allay the boredom, except for those times Tom is listening to his favorite podcast from Minnesota, Garage Logic. (The sound of the podcast in the background doesn’t bother me at all while I’m busy writing).

Their yard was aglow not only from candles scattered about the lawn but also by landscape lighting focusing on the exquisite vegetation.

Perhaps, I need these diversions and distractions to help keep me centered when tackling challenging projects. We all have our own way of handling difficult tasks and I’m certainly no exception. Possibly I require more detours than most. Now, as I’m sitting here writing these words for this daily post, the podcast is on, I’ve already walked in the past 30 minutes  (the timer is set for the next 30 minutes) and I’m contemplating making a cup of tea.

Now, with a cup of herbal tea at my side, I’m ready to begin again. (Gee, I’d love some real cream, to add to a cup of coffee-not available here, or a big salad, or a juicy steak on the grill, or knowing a glass of red wine is awaiting me at 5:00 pm or, or, or…). It’s a whining day! Please humor me!

The table was set on the well-manicured lawn. With the balmy breeze and the fire roaring, the mosquitoes stayed away, although we were well-armed wearing our BugsAway clothing.

Whew! It’s good to have that off my chest. Many of our readers praise us for being so tough and strong under these dire circumstances. But, we’re no tougher or stronger than any of you who have had to live with the constraints established by your state, your county, or your country during times of COVID-19. It’s been a challenge for all of us in one way or another.

The dinner table for 4 was set on the grass, well lit with candles, beyond their inviting veranda.

The 30-minute timer is about to go off any minute when I’ll head out the door once again to walk the corridors while listening to educational podcasts of my own, mostly centered around health and fitness instead of past episodes of Dr. Phil, 20/20, or Entertainment Tonight which, at one time could entertain me while walking.

That’s all I have to say today. I have to start thinking of what I’ll write for the next keyword phrase with 2000 words for post #3, starting in an hour or so.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, September 22, 2019:

The acreage on the farm in Devon, England is diverse and beautiful. We were grateful to be able to spend time enjoying the many facets of the farm without doing any work. For more photos, please click here.