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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.