2010 11 21
"Hello". Jane's voice on the speakerphone does not sound angry. Not exacty. More sort of wary with an edge. For sure Jane was not on the happy side of average.
"Jane, Jane. Is that you!!" This is blurted out by Peter, husband of Jane.
Peter is driving the Budget Committee and me the wrong way down US 1 trying to deliver us to their home in Solivida outside Kissimmee for a welcome two day break from the Boating Life. Peter is faced with an unexpected problem and is taking charge. He is calling his wife.
Jane confirms that indeed it is she who answered her telephone. Peter continues "Jane! Where do we Live!"
Lesser mortals might have grown concerned at their fate, hurtling down a busy US highway in Florida, home of the truly dangerous senior citizen driver; being driven, by the way, the wrong way to the driver's own home. You need to know Peter and Jane. Besides, the Budget Committee and I are not lesser mortals.
We have been promised air conditioning and endless showers. Force 10 earthquakes could not shake the grip of a cruiser promised endless hot showers. We signed up for the whole tour.
Back to the car: Jane is very calm under the circumstances. The circumstances include that we are already late; we were expected at her home presently but have not yet left our starting point. Also this is the second time Peter has called home in the last 5 minutes.
"Peter, Listen to me. You have to push the Map button and then type in SOLIVIDA" . Jane is telling Peter not where he lives but how to program the onboard GPS system on their Lexus sedan. She knows why he is really calling. Like all decently married couples they communicate in their own honed shorthand the parsing of which defies even the high powered cryptographic computers of the NSA.
Instructions received Peter requires only three attempts to get the GPS situated, helped not one iota by the interventions of your humble scribe. Then we were off. Like a rocket.
Peter drives fast. He talks faster.
In the hour and a half from Vero Beach to Kissimmee our Lexus stops for coffee, we are given a running geographical history of North Central Florida; the complete history of Peter and Jane's acquisition of a home in Solivida, an age restricted gated community just south of Kissimmee including all of the reasons Peter really liked another gated community better a detailed biographical survey of the lake which we had to skirt enroute and all the details of a truly horrible experience Peter suffered at the hands of the increasingly overbearing and unreasonable State Troopers in Forida.
Peter, a displaced Irishman, can tell a story like no other. We are captivated the entire time we are in the car.
The last half hour of our drive produces two followup phone calls from Jane. Each call is intended to remind Peter he is to stop at the grocery on the way home, although the first was cleverly disguised as her requesting Peter stop as a favour to her. After the last call Peter admits he is glad she called. "We almost drove past it" he confessed "I forgot all about it".
How could you have anything but one enormously good time in the presence of such people: the absent minded professor and his Type A mistress.
Peter is a cabinet maker and secondary school teacher; Jane an elementary school teacher. (She says it helps.) Both are recently retired from long careers teaching the youth of Massachusettes how to make their way in what is certainly an increasingly confusing and uncertain world. Massachusetts, I point out, took first place honours in a recent study comparing how individual states are dealing with the challenges of education in the post industrial, post china, pre India world. Peter and Jane and teachers like them moved mountains.
The community, Solivida, is a masterful rendering of retirement life; Peter and Jane's home is palatial sporting a large fully screened back yard (called a "lanai" down here) and a swimming pool. Busy with sailing and travel they spend only a few months at "home" each year. They have no time for retirement. .
In two days we went alligator hunting by golf cart in the endless ponds of Solivida, had a full tour of the development and a history lesson of its development from Jane, took a tour of Disneyland, or at least two or three parts of it and went to a store that sold ice cream cones with half a gallon of ice cream each. At least half a gallon.
Most fun was evenings when we watched blatantly pro Democrat TV shows on MSNBC and made fun of Republicans.
The second morning we woke up to find baby snakes wriggling around the kitchen floor. Vermin take a different form in the wilds of Florida let me tell you. Jane and the Budget Committee took care of the snake.
All told we had the best time in a long time in Solivida. Jane came on the ride home. It was not quite so much fun.
Thanks to Peter and Jane.