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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Carting to a Concert

We are very lucky that the house we purchased here int he Villages is close to Savannah Recreation Center, as well as Spanish Springs.  Savannah hosts most of the great shows that come to the Villages.  Last night was a beautiful night and we took the golf cart to Savannah to see a show b the Alter Eagles, an Eagles tribute band. The band performed 2 shows last night and we went to the earlier one.  It was lots of fun hearing them play the Eagles greatest hits and the audience was fun too.  We retirees tend to be an irreverent bunch.  When the lead guitar broke a string and the had to stop for a minute to retune the guitar, several quips shouted out from the audience atucally had the band members breaking up with laughter.  They said we were entertaining them as much as they were us.

Getting out onto the cart path from the parking lot at the end of the concert was easier than getting out with our car the last time we saw a show there.  And leaving in a car is pretty easy too.  We got right out using a special cart exit and were home in under 10 minutes.

There are so many places that are wasy yo drive our golf cart to from our house.  Since speed limits are low on roads in the Villages (20-35 mph, depending on the size of the road) and on most routes carts have totally separate paths off the roads, it doesnt take much longer to get somewhere in out 18 mph cart.  We are using the golf cart more and more as we get used to the concept and learn the dedicated paths.  I took the cart to Tai Chi class  on Tuesday at Mulberry Grove rec center and to Lake Miona rec center on Wednesday for Happy Stitchers.  Today Ray is planning to take it to an eye doctor appointment and tomorrow I plan to take it to my hair cut appointment in the shopping center just beyond Spanish Springs. Many of the paths are along golf courses or ponds and under shade trees, making the drives very pleasant and relaxing.  In a car we are closed in with the air conditioner but in a cart we are shaded by the roof but open to the breeze and moving slow enough to enjoy nature around us.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Movie Dates

We went to see the new Disney movie "Planes" yesterday.  Lots of fun for people like us who love aviation.   I noted that we have been going to the movies much more than we did in Maryland and I know why.   Where we lived before the local theater (25 minutes away) was small, sticky floors and people talking through the film.  Not a great experience.  When we did go to see a movie we drove either an hour to Waldorf or an hour and a half to Annapolis.   It had to be a special movie to make the effort, and even then,  crowds or people talking through the film were occasional hazards.    It is sooo much different here.

In the Villages we have 3 town centers and there is a state of the art theater in each one.  All the theaters are clean and neat.  Since we are retired, we can go to an early show and we have not experienced lines or anything near a crowded theater yet.   Prices are reasonable for Village residents, the popcorn is good, and, so far, all the other patrons have been polite enough not to talk during the movie.  With 3 theaters, 5, 15, and 25 minutes away respectively, we have lots of choices in current releases.  We've tried all three theaters and, of course, the newest is the nicest, but it is also the farthest from the house we chose.  That's OK.  We are very pleased with this aspect of Villages entertainment.

By the way, for those who like foreign or independent films, there is a club that shows these at on of the recreation centers.  There are over 2,000 different clubs here, in case I haven't mentioned that, so there really is something for everyone.   I know the Villages may sound too good to be true.  I assure you, I do not work for them, and get no profit from promoting the community.  However,  I am extremely happy we found this place.  Everything you hear about this retirement community really is true.  It is a wonderful place to retire to.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Quilting Fun

My First Real Quilt

I haven't written anything here in over a month because things have been hopping here.   First, I completed a 5 week course on beginning quilting and have had homework to do each week.  Making mistakes at just about every step of the way and having to pull stitches out and redo made it take longer than if I could follow directions.  However, I'm the kind of person who learns by doing and the mistakes have helped me learn why there is a right way to do it.  Despite it all, I was able to finish my first quilt in the allotted 5 weeks and, despite it's imperfections, I love it.
Quilt Back

Our instructor, Linda Hungerford, was excellent.  She is an experienced quilter whose passion is modern quilting, but her class effectively taught all the basics needed in the creation of any quilt.  She will be conducting several all day seminars on free motion quilting in the fall, and I've signed up for the one in October.

I have also gotten involved with the new Eastern European genealogy special interest group.  Their first meeting was held in June.  As it turned out, questions came up about 2 topics I am very familiar with, Dropbox and Cyndi's List.   As a  result, I presented these topics at the July and August meetings.

Custom Fidget Quilt
While all this was happening, our Fabric Fun Arts and Crafts group Fidget Quilt project has taken off.  The local newspaper sent a reporter and photographer to interview us and they ran a great article with 3 photos in the paper about a week ago.  Then they followed up with a second volunteer salute in the Sunday paper.  As a result, we've been getting lots of calls  It's wonderful.  We have delivered fidget quilts to 3 area nursing homes and to almost a dozen individuals caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's.  (I'm particularly proud of the one pictured here. It went to an Irish Catholic mother of 10 and grandmother of 27. The pocket contains a rosary for her.)
 Yesterday I received a call from the Community Educator for the Alzheimer's support groups in the tri-county area. She is going to spread the word about what we are doing, so we have an opportunity to help even more people. I am very excited, but it's going to be a bit of work.  Over the past 2 weeks I made several quilts specific to the life of the person who was to receive it and that has taken up some time.  It was worth it.  The ladies in the group continue to bring me new fidget quilts every week, so I will have a stash available to give to those who call.

I have found a real home with the Fabric Fun Arts and Crafts group and a volunteering effort I can embrace with a passion.  The ladies in this group are creative, always willing to help each other and willing to learn new things.  I feel like I have found a group of women who  will be friends with for the rest of my life.  One of the many things I love about the Villages is the fact that, with all the different clubs and special interest groups, it is easy to find friends with similar interests.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Week in the Life

Yes, I know, it's been over a month since I wrote anything here.  Life in the Villages has been so much fun, I haven't had time to write.   I finished my Mah Jong class last week. Now I know all the rules and rituals, but it's going to be a long time before I feel comfortable playing with anyone who has been playing for awhile.  It takes me a long time to figure our which hand to select to play towards.  That's the hardest art of the game, but I'm practicing.

We started another Tai Chi class last week.  It's the same instructor and basically the same class as we took before, but they changed it from a 4 to an 8 week class.  That will give us more time to memorize the movements and maybe add in a few more.

I started a beginner's quilting class last week too. We are supposed to be able to finish a small quilt by the end of the 5 week course.  The first week we just learned about selecting material and what tools would be the most useful.  Our homework was to buy our material and this week we learned how to cut the fabric and piece it together.  We're supposed to have our quilt tops done by next week. It's going to be fun.  I really think I can do this.

I'm also still very much involved with the Fun Fabric and Crafts group that meets each Saturday afternoon.  We have been visiting the Homewood Assisted Living facility at Freedom Point once a month to lead the residents in a craft project.  This has been so rewarding that we added a second Assisted Living facility, Mission Oaks.  We visited these residents for the first time last week.  The ladies who came to make bookmarks and flower magnets with us had a good time and thanked us over and over for coming.  It was a great afternoon.

We have also been making Fidget Quilts for the Memory Care sections of these facilities.  These are small (20-24 inch) quilts made with different fabrics, beads, zippers, etc. to provide a variety of tactile experiences for the person who receives one.  The members of Fun Fabric and Crafts have really taken to this project.  We delivered 18 to Freedom Point and 21 to Mission Oaks.  Both the administrators and the residents were really excited to receive these.  I am now the Fidget Quilt coordinator for the group.  Each week I collect the quilts the ladies have made and bring them home.  When we have a place to give them I gather up a bunch and bring them.  We are looking for more places to donate these and hope to get some press coverage to let people know about these quilts.

Between these classes and projects I'm also working on a couple of other needlework projects, reading a book, and working on eliminating some of the clutter around our house by scanning papers and digitizing old LPs.  It's a busy schedule, but it's all stuff I enjoy doing so I'm having a great time.  If only there were more hours in a day.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mah Jong

I have been so busy lately, there has been no time to post here.  Even though there are a ton of new things to try here in the Villages, I may have to say no to myself on some of them.  There just aren't enough hours in the day or days in the week.  

My latest learning experience is Mah Jong.  I am taking a 5 week class to learn how to play this game properly.  It is not easy.  There is an elaborate ritual to start the game, which I equate to shuffling cards.   I have purchased an inexpensive traveling Mah Jong set for myself so I can practice this.  I have attended 2 classes so far and we haven't even begun to play - we are still working on this process of preparing to play.

There is a national organization for American Mah Jong and they issue a card each year showing the winning hands authorized for the year.  I understand that about 40% of the hands change each year.  There are 52 hands shown on this year's card and each one has variations within it.  Learning these is going to be a challenge.  It is an interesting game though, and I have already been invited to play with 2 different groups.   I will have to practice a bit on my own before I play with anyone else though.  Otherwise I would slow down the game as I have to think about every move, and that would surely annoy experienced players.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Getting Healthy

One of the things that attracted me to the Villages was the number of opportunities available to get healthier. After so many years of long work hours behind a desk and long car rides, the thought of getting the exercise of my choice during retirement was very appealing.
The list of activities is simply amazing. Most people stop when they hear that there are over 500 holes of golf in the community, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are softball fields, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, bocce, shuffleboard, bowling, community pools, and every kind of exercise class you could possibly think of.
Although there are lots of community pools in the Villages that we could go to, we opted for a house that as a small pool on the lanai. This way, we get to swim almost every day.  We just look for an hour when the weather looks best and jump in. It gives us the opportunity to avoid the afternoon thunderstorms and have plenty of time for other activities.
There are also plenty of safe paces to walk or bicycle.  I like to do some yoga exercises then go for a walk in the early morning around the neighborhood.  I get to say hello to other early risers and see what is going on in the area.
Last week we took another step towards health - we took the first of four beginning Tai Chi classes.  Since neither of us has done Tai Chi before, we thought a class would be a good place to start.  After we've completed the class, we hope to join the Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention group that meets every Monday.   By combining some gentle exercise with a healthy diet, we are on our way to loosing weight and getting a little healthier.  The Villages make it all much easier.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

There are a a large number of veterans living in the Villages and veterans organizations in the area are very active.  Today there were memorial ceremonies scheduled in several locations and lots of flags were out in front of neighborhood homes. 

We stopped at the Hacienda Hills country club pool for a few minutes to say hi to some friends down from MD for the weekend, but otherwise did not go out today.   The country club pool was pretty crowded, and I'm sure all the other pools were too.  There are over 40 pools in The Villages.   Some are designated family pools, so visiting children can swim too, but most are either adult only neighborhood pools or member only country club pools.  Since we have our own small pool at home, we don't go to the community pools.  Today, as usual, we spent the day enjoying our own pool and barbeque.  The people at Hacienda Hills were having a good time though - we could hear the music from our back yard, over a mile away.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Glass Engraving

Last week I went out on a limb and took a class at the Villages Life Long Learning College on glass engraving.  This was something I never considered a possibility until I saw the class listed in the VLLLC catalog.  I had no expectations for being any good at this but it sounded like a fun thing to try.   Well I was surprised.   During this 3 hour class the instructor showed us how use the engraver, explained the burs and talked us through a practice engraving.   During the last hour we were each given a drawing of a long stemmed rose to engrave and we were all able to successfully engrave it onto an 8x11 piece of glass.  After we engraved our glass, the instructor filled in the lines with gold and we got our masterpieces to take home.   It was much easier to learn than I ever imagined.
Rose I Engraved on Glass, Gold Filled and Framed on a Black Speckled Background Paper

I enjoyed that class so much that I signed up for a second class for this past Tuesday.  This one was on how to engrave on an object that you can't see through or has an unusual shape.   We each had a 6x8 white ceramic tile to work on and were given a choice of  pictures to engrave.  I picked a Maxine cartoon because I wanted to practice straight lines.   This required a different bur, which we each purchased.  Once the engraving was done we were shown how to paint it.  Although I was the last one to finish engraving, I was the first one done painting.  I am very pleased with my effort, even though my straight lines still need work and know I can have fun doing more of these.  I am signed up for a third class next week, Engraving Calligraphy.  Relatives, look out, craft gifts to follow. :-))

All Black Lines are Engraved, Including Text.
It is so much fun to actually have time to be able to take these classes and learn something new.  I am registered for 4 other classes and l will write about them as I take them.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Volunteering Can Be Fun and Rewarding

As I think I mentioned in a prior post, I joined several needlework clubs here in the Villages.  Members of one of the groups, "Fabric Fun and Crafts", visit one of the Villages Assisted Living facilities once a month to lead residents in a craft activity.  This month I joined this outing for the first time. 

Our group leader obtained materials to decorate small cloth bags for Spring.  We spent most of our meeting time on Saturday preparing the materials to make it easier for the residents do work with.  We wrote Spring on the bags in glitter glue and put beads, buttons, and pipe cleaners in individual baggies. 

When we arrived on Monday afternoon, several ladies joined us for some fun.  Their hands were not steady and sometimes they had trouble connecting their thoughts, so we sat down and helped them decorate the bags.  One of the women started to sing, so we sang along with her.   They had a lot of fun and were very pleased with their finished bags.  It was a fun hour for us too.

3 of the Fidget Quilts delivered on Monday
One of our group projects is to sew "Fidget Quilts" for Alzheimer patients.  These are small lap quilts made with materials of varying colors and textures, decorated with fringe, zippers, bows, beads, etc.  They are used to give these people something to do with their hands when they get agitated.  We brought the first four of these that our group made with us to give to the woman who is in charge of activities for the Memory Care unit.   She was very happy to receive these and her eyes were full of tears.   We found out there are currently 18 residents in the Memory Care  unit, so we are going to be busy making at least 14 more.

This was such a fun afternoon.  It was really satisfying to see the happiness on the faces of these women as we worked with them and the appreciation of the staff.  This is just one of the many opportunities for helping others around here.  There are food banks, groups that make things for newborns and the many homeless in the area, church groups, groups that put together packages for the troupes, hospital volunteers, and volunteers at the local schools.  With so many retirees here, many of them looking to give back, we probably have one of the largest pools of vounteers in the country.  There really is something for everyone in this realm too.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Getting Used to Driving a Golf Cart

I know it has been over 2 weeks since my last post, but there is always so much to do, I loose track of time.  I also had to deal with a failing computer backup system.  If you don't back up your data yet, please take this as a warning - please do so as soon as possible.  External drives have come way down in price and it is well worth the investment.   My backup strategy consists of multiple drives for redundancy, so when one fails I still have all my data.  One of my drives was over 5 years old and was starting to show signs of stress, so I bought a new one and spent the past week moving data.

But that's not what I want to talk about today.  Last time I told you about the golf cart safety class we took.  Since we have an electric golf cart, one of my fears has been running out of battery power far from home, so I was only willing to take it for short trips.  Well, 2 weeks ago we had a power gauge installed, so I can now see when the battery is starting to run low.  That gave me the courage to take it out on a long run.

I had a craft group meeting on my calendar this afternoon at Lake Miona Recreation center.  This is about 6 miles each way from our house and a 20 minute drive by car.I decided to research the golf cart path and leave early enough to allow for getting lost.  The route starts on my street, which is shared by cars and golf carts.  At the end of my street I turn onto a main connector road that has a dedicated golf cart lant on either side, where most roads have shoulders.   About 2 miles down this road is a 4 lane highway that golf carts cannot go onto.  To cross this I needed to merge with the car traffic and make a left onto a dedicated cart path, leading to a tunnel under the busy road.   This tunnel emerges in a park and sends you on a short cart path to another tunnel to cross to the southbound side of the road again.  From here I turned left onto a 2-lane cart part and bridge over a small lake.  

After the bridge there is a circle at the entrance to Sumter Landing.  Golf carts are not allowed in circles, so there is always a cart path detouring around them.  I took the detour to the right, leading onto the road into Sumter Landing. This is another road shared by cars and carts.  Making a left at the first block/light, I passed the Sweet Bay grocery store and turned left to connect with the dedicated cart trail along Stillwater Trail. There was one minor cart detour around a circle at Canal Street, then the cart path continued until just before the circle joining Stillwater and Buena Vista Blvd.  Here I entered a tunnel to go under Stillwater and join the cart trail along side of the golf course, on the left side of Buena Vista.  Lake Miona Recreation center is on the right side of Buena Vista and the path is on the left, so this required navigation of another tunnel to bring me alongside of the recreation center.  This may sound complicated, but the trip only took about  5 minutes more than it would have by car and saved money on gas. 

This is why you need to understand where you are going and how you will get there every time you take out the golf cart.  The combination of roads, cart paths and tunnels are not represented on any printed map or recognized on a GPS.  The only source I know of is the map on http://cartingthevillages.com/index.php.  This shows all the cart paths, tunnels and detours, as well as warnings for dangerous intersections.   By studying this before you venture out, you can find your way safely.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Getting Around By Golf Cart

One of the things that attracted us to the Villages is the fact that you can get almost anywhere in the community by golf cart.  Shopping, restaurants, medical facilities, and recreation centers are all as accessible as the country clubs and golf courses.  The smaller roads are shared by cars, golf carts, bicycles, and pedestrians.  Along most of the larger roads, there are dedicated cart/bicycle paths or cart/bicycle lanes.  But beyond that, there are recreation trails that golf carts may use as short cuts to get from one place to another.

Many people come to the Villages, get a golf cart, and off they go without knowing the rules and how to use the system.   Golf carts are not toys, but they also are not made for road travel.  If you don't know what you are doing, you can easily tip them over and get seriously injured.  If you don't know the rules, you may find yourself in an altercation with a car, and the car will always win.  

The Life Long Learning College offers a 90 minute class called "Get There By Golf Cart," so we signed up for it.  This class talks about the rules covering what is legally a golf cart (top speed 20 mph).  If you are caught speeding in a golf cart, it means it is not legally a golf cart.  You can be charged with driving an unregistered, uninsured vehicle in addition to the speeding ticket.

The other thing the instructor talked about is the roads, paths and trails a golf cart can use around the Villages.  These are not shown on any published map, but he has created a web site that shows where all these are.  The web site is CartingTheVillages.com.  This is a great site, based on Google maps and annotated with all the recreation centers.  It clearly shows all the paths, what kind of path each is, where the tunnels are to cross busy roads, and how to get from point A to point B. 

I recommend that everyone who is new to the Villages attend this short class.  We love the golf carts, but we also love our lives and need to stay safe.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Villages Concert Band

One thing the Villages is never lacking is entertainment.   No matter what your tastes, there is something for everyone.  There are local performers and famous names (although most of the famous names we get have been around for a long time.)  Not long after returning home from our vacation, we saw a listing of Spring concerts and events in the newspaper.   We looked at tickets for Herman's Hermits and Willie Nelson, but both were sold out.  There were two local performances that we were also interested in and we did get tickets for them.

Last night we went to see the Villages Concert Band's Spring Concert at Savannah Center.  This is a group of about 100 musicians who have probably played their instruments all their lives.  Now they are retired and play for fun.  The director is a retired music educator and the associate director is a retired high school band director.  The ensemble rehearses weekly and performs 5-6 concerts a year, with all profits going to a local charity.

This is not an amateur band.  These are excellent musicians, many of whom worked as musicians or teachers prior to retirement.  They love music and it shows.  We enjoyed a wonderful evening of music including a great rendition of the 1812 Overture, American Folk Rhapsody, an Irish music medley and much more.  There was even a special performance of the Trombone Rag featuring "The P-Bones of the Villages".  This is a group of 10 musicians who play colorful plastic trombones.  I had never heard of this before but these P-Bones sound very much like brass trombones but are much less expensive and come in all kinds of colors.  They are gaining popularity with students just learning to play.

Sunday night we have tickets for another concert, but I'll save that for after we've heard them and can give them a proper review.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

I have wanted to write another post here for weeks, but have been so busy I haven't found the time.  There has been so much going on here that I've been struggling with what to talk about first.  I'll have to write several posts to cover it all, but I thought Disney World would be a good place to start.

We are very fortunate in being so close to Orlando. Every Spring there is a Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot.  We spent a day there last year and I was very much looking forward to it again this year.   This time we reserved a room at the Swan for last Saturday night so we wouldn't have to drive there and back the same day.   We love the parks but walking around for a few hours is tiring.   This way we got there Saturday afternoon in time to check in and go for a nice dinner.   The Swan is a short walk from Epcot.   After dinner we walked over to the International Gateway entrance near the World Showcase and found good seats for a concert by the Turtles.  This 60's group only had a few hits and they are quite old, but the concert was great fun anyway.  They showed a real sense of humor and made it fun for everyone.

After the concert we stayed for the fireworks, which were spectacular as always, then walked back to the Swan.  The next day we checked out and drove to the Epcot parking lot so we could go in through the main entrance.  Most of the special topiary and exhibits are on the entrance side of Epcot, not on the World Showcase side.  We spent the morning photographing the gardens and butterfly house.   It was beautiful as always, but we are not young anymore.  3-4 hours walking is our limit and we were happy to drive home Sunday afternoon.

The availability of the annual residents pass is a great benefit of living in the Villages.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

Today is Easter Sunday and it is now 73 degrees F outside.  We have had the heater going on the pool for the past few days and today the air temperature should be high enough this afternoon to make a dip in the pool comfortable.  We just uncovered it so the filter has a chance to skim the little bit of dirt that has accumulated off the top.  We have a pool maintenance guy come in every week so the water is crystal clear, it only has a little dirt from the cover.  Of course, there are over 60 community pools scattered throughout the Villages and we could go to one of them any time, but it's nice to have one in our back yard.  I don't know if any of the community pools are heated and I like warm water so I can swim year-round.  Last year we did swim daily all through the winter, but since we were away Jan-Mar, the heater has been turned off and it needed a chance to catch up.

We woke up early this morning and decided to go to the 7am mass at St Timothy's Catholic Church.  Last year we went to a later mass that was overflowing so we thought we'd try the early one this year.   It is always amazing to me how full this huge church gets on a regular Sunday, but today all the CAPE (Christmas, Ash Wednesday, Passion Sunday & Easter) Christians show up so it was standing room only.  We got there a half hour early and got some of the last available seats.  Normally this church has 6 masses each weekend, 2 on Saturday night, 3 on Sunday morning and one Sunday evening, and they are all pretty full.  During the winter another one is added at 12:45PM on Sundays to accommodate the extra "Snowbirds." However, this weekend the schedule was expanded to 7 masses on Sunday, with an overflow mass in the church hall chapel starting 10 minuted after each regular mass in the church.   Many residents have family visiting for Easter, so they need to be accommodated as well.   All the masses were full!   There is also another Catholic Church on the other side of the Villages and many other large churches in the area serving people of other faiths and I am sure they were full as well.

 It is nice to live in a faith-based community.  It shows in how people interact with each other.  Everywhere I have gone in this area, I have met with the friendliest people I have ever found.  People greet you with a smile, are usually patient and polite, and willing to help each other.  They expect you to do the same and that expectation encourages newcomers to be just as friendly.  The golden rule is alive and well in the Villages.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Water Management

One thing we learned quickly upon moving here is that water usage is always an issue in Florida.   I believe one problem is that the ground doesn't hold it well.   On the cruise we just returned from, one of the speakers talked a lot about how water rights are a significant political issue as well.  I came home even more aware of how critical an issue this is.   In the United States, we use 570 liters (150 gallons) of water per day, while the average consumption in the world is only 100 liters per person per day.   We have a responsibility to be more aware of our water usage and cut back where we can.  So, the notice I found in my email last week announcing a seminar on irrigation system management was well timed.

All the homes in the Villages have lawn irrigation systems installed, but people moving in from other areas of the country may not be familiar with how to use these systems or how much water the landscape actually needs.   This was a great, one-hour talk by a master gardener from Florida-Friendly Landscape.  He explained how to set the irrigation system, how frequently you should water and for how long.   The system should deliver 1/2" to 3/4" of water each run time.  Watering should only be once a week in Spring, Summer, and Fall and every other week December-February.  He explained how to measure how much water your lawn is getting and how to check and clean the sprinklers.   He also gave several web sites that provide more information.

This presentation was part of a regular series of talks called Twice on Tuesday, held the last Tuesday of each month.  The same presentation is done at 2 locations,  in a rec center on the north end of the Villages in the morning and at a rec center further south in the afternoon.   It is just one example of the great programs available to residents of the Villages.

By the way, we have been making adjustments to our irrigation system since we moved here.  I am happy to report that our water usage is now half of what it was when we moved in.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Traveling With Peace of Mind

After a long, adventurous winter vacation, we are now back at home in the Villages.  It is easy to travel from a Villages home without worry. Besides wonderful neighbors who keep an eye on what is going on in the neighborhood, there is a Neighborhood Watch organization.  For a small weekly fee they will check on your house a couple of times a week to make sure everything is OK.   If there is a problem, they will contact you or someone else you designate.

The biggest problem was our mail.  The post office doesn't like the hold mail that long.  I asked if they would throw out the catalogs and only hold the other mail, but they wouldn't do that.  About half way through our carrier was nice enough to bring some of it to our house and our neighbor let her in. By the time we got home we had 3 big mail buckets full. Once I sorted it I filled one bucket with catalogs, one with solicitation mail, and a small pile of letters we actually needed to look at, mostly subscriptions that were expiring.  We pay all our bills electronically, so that wasn't an issue.  I wish there was a better way to deal with this.

Although our 2 and a half month trip was wonderful, it's always good to get home to my own bed. The only problem is, because we were gone so long, there was no food in the refrigerator .  No worries, Food shopping is easy here.  There are three Publix, a Winn-Dixie, a Fresh Market, and a Sweet Bay grocery stores, all accessible by golf cart.  There are also several Walgreens and CVS drugstores that also sell groceries.  A Walmart  and a Target are also nearby, but not easy to get to by golf cart.  I tend to use the car though, because it holds more bags.  The closest store to me is one of the Publix and I shop for some items there, but mostly I go to Winn-Dixie.  They offer gas credits at Shell stations based on how much you spend and special bonus credit items. I like filling my gas tank for half the price and sometimes even less. The only problem is that Winn-Dixie doesn't always carry the brands I want. That's when I go to Publix. Or, if I want something really special like really good cuts of meat or gourmet food, Fresh Market is a little further but definitely worth the trip.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Many-Purposed Polo Field

When we moved to the Villages, we knew that there would be lots of activities at the recreation centers and town squares, but one of the surprises for me have been the activities at the Polo field.  Yes, the Villages has it's own polo field and polo matches are held here in season.  When the polo clubs are not using the field, it is used for a variety of other events.   The field is available for radio control model airplane enthusiasts each morning.  There are kite flying days held there in the spring.  The Christmas Golf Cart Parade was held there at the beginning of December.  Last week there was a performance by the Lipizzaner Stallions.

Today's paper has an article about the Villages Renaissance Faire, which will take place at the polo field this Saturday and Sunday. There will be a live chess game, jousting and sword-fighting demonstrations, and vendors selling Renaissance related articles.  The article says this is a new event on the Villages calendar, held for the first time last year.  It was so successful, they plan to make it an annual event.  We will not be able to check it out this year, as we have other pans, but I will definitely look for this next year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

There were a ton of things to do in the Villages last night.  I think every one of the country clubs had a party with live entertainment.  There are now 11 country clubs, so this made plenty of options.  There was also entertainment on each of the 3 town squares, plus a number of other restaurants in the area with special New Year's parties planned.  As for us, we prefer staying home and watching the ball drop on TV.  Golf carts can be just as dangerous as cars in the hands of a driver who has had a little too much to drink.  Hope you all had a safe beginning to 2013.

We are going to be doing some extensive traveling over the next few months.   This blog will be going on hiatus while I am gone.   In the meantime, I will be working on my latest travel blog.  If anyone is interested, the link can be found on our main web page.  If you know me, you know how to find it or how to email me to ask.