Mary Rose picked me up at Orlando airport on Sunday morning, the day after my birthday. I had flown all night, more than 2,700 miles, so that I could meet Lily’s “parents” before they left on a cruise with several other of Mary Rose’s friends. About a month earlier, MR realized that she wanted all the dogs to be cared for but she could manage only three and there were four who needed looking after, so she sent an Email invitation to several siblings. I was the one who said yes and spent about $1,000 on r/t air tickets for the chance to spend two weeks at The Villages at Lily’s residence, with the use of a golf cart thrown in. Peggy sweetened the pot with a birthday gift of $500 to defray some of the costs, and the folks whose house and dog I was taking care of said they would offer some payment.
The house was really nice, walking distance from MR’s but overlooking a different lake — one with two fountains. The lanai was L-shaped, double-pane windows to the floor so Lily could look out to water on both sides of the lanai, nice privacy from neighbors on the other side of the lake. The home was a perfect constant temperature with no noisy furnace. (Mine sounds like a jet engine.) Granite-top decorator kitchen, nice television with Amazon Prime and PBS streams. I watched the first seven episodes of “The Periphal” on the first day of the temperature plunge.
The mercury plummeted in most of the country for seven days, cancelling all the outdoor events at The Villages including dancing, swimming and pickle ball. Mary took me to see a near-deserted Spanish Springs just as the freeze started.
Mary Rose Hated the Appearance of My Hair
On the night of the solstice we had a disastrous dinner, but the next morning we went to a party at 9 a.m. and to see ‘Avatar 2″ in 3-D, followed by a walk around another lake.
Don’t Feed The Alligators!
Lily got lots of walks: morning, afternoon, and I was surprised to discover I needed a flashlight at night because there are no street lights! She would get an early outing, breakfast, then a long walk, often all the way around the lake.
It would be hard to describe how quiet it was on Christmas morning at The Villages when the temperature was so low. Perhaps this image of one of the main lakes will tell the story. There are birds perched on the tops of the pilings of a long-gone pier that once thrust into the cold, silvery water.
Lily vigorously sampled the frosty scents, such a change from the normally redolent fragrances of other canine visitors, golf course, and gas-powered golf carts. Trotting around with her in the absence of other dogs was a pleasurable meditation.
Our solstice dispute meant we each spent Christmas alone, but we joined each other for Boxing Day Trivia Night where I met Ted’s son, Kevin, visiting from Rio de Janiero.
On my final day, Mary Rose and I enjoyed the Marketing Trolley Ride to all the new construction becoming available. I learned that more than 80,000 people live in The Villages which covers more than 70 square miles over three counties and boasts more than 700 holes of golf. Cait joined us for a sunset boat ride.
At 3:15 a.m. the next morning, the airport van collected me six hours before my scheduled 9 a.m. departure. The flight was delayed one hour, but it took a very long time to get through TSA. I got on line about 6:30 a.m. and MCO airport split the line at 7 a.m. as new TSA inspection stations were opened. The seven-hour daytime flight offered no food or alcohol, just some cookies. San Francisco experienced five inches of rain on the day we landed, but the landing was perfect. The wait for Airport Express was impacted by the rain, however, with some serious flooding in parts of the city.
I was very glad to see my neighbor Kiki at about 4:30 p.m. on the drizzly New Year’s Eve, picking me up at STS. I’m glad I got to experience The Villages. About a week later I was pleased to receive $350 and a nice note from the homeowners.