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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.