Friday, May 18, 2018

Polo at The Villages .........

Yes, we have our very own Polo fields ................

The matches are fun to watch, but it moves so fast you miss some of the "smaller" details.     I brought my camera and a long lens.     I caught this moment where a mallet struck a nearby horse.

This is one of my favorite photos.     It's rare to catch a horse and rider alone in the picture.     Add the fact that the ball is right there and you have a good shot.    Then I realized all four legs were off the ground.    Let's elevate that to a great catch!

These horses are  highly trained and get quite a workout.     Riders have several horses at the end of the field and will change frequently,     No time outs, they just ride off, jump on the new horse and continue playing.

You can see the clubhouse and table areas in this photo.    What I didn't get is the other side of the field where we were - it is lined totally with golf carts who are set up for tailgating.     So much fun!

Mid-way through the day's games, we do the traditional "stomping of the divots".     My good friend, Cheryl, was visiting so I caught her doing her stomping!

You can see the horse trailers, trainers and extra horses at the end of the field.    There is also a horse ambulance off to the side.   Fortunately, it was a long lens so I didn't have to duck as that ball came forward!

 Life in The Villages is one fun adventure after another!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Frankie Avalon ..............................

With a moniker like "beachgal" you know I had to love those old beach movies with Frankie and Annette.       On top of that, Grease is one of my all time favorite movies.       When it was announced that Frankie Avalon was coming to The Villages to perform in our Fine Arts Center, I was one of the first to get online tickets.    

We had 75 minutes of great music, great moves (very good for a guy who is 76 and had done an earlier performance today) , film clips, and family pictures.        

The lead guitarist was none other than Edan Everly - Don Everly's son.      They did a duet of a few  Everly brother's songs with Edan doing his uncle Phil's part.   Remember Wake Up Little Susie, Dream and Bye Bye Love....

Frankie also let us know about his family.     He and his wife Kathryn (a former model & Vogue covergirl) had eight children in 10 years.    Their oldest child, Frank Jr, was drummer for the show.    

He talked about some of his rock & roll personal friends and did a song from each of them:  Elvis, Rick Nelson, Bobby Darin and Bill Haley.

But most of all we got to hear Frankie favorites like Dee Dee Dinah, Ginger Bread, Bobby Sox to Stockings, Just Ask Your Heart, Beauty School Drop Out with more to come.

Remember I said I was one of the first to get tickets ---  well, we were first row center.     That in itself was fantastic, but he eventually came down into the audience to sing and ended up standing knee to knee with me for Venus and stayed in this area for a couple other songs.       We heard Silhouettes, Twilight Time, Earth Angel and Goodnight Sweetheart Goodnight.

We were immediately to the left of the couple in this shot.     Thank you to the local newspaper for these pictures (it was a no photo show).

Thanks for the memories of American Bandstand, beach movies and so many songs that bring back memories.    

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tarpon Springs, Florida - sponges everywhere........

Tarpon Springs is a historic Greek seaside community near Tampa.     It was settled in the late 19th century by Greek immigrants from the Dodecanese Islands.     They were attracted to the area by the opportunities to dive for natural sponges here.

They had been harvesting sponges around the Greek islands for centuries and brought these skills with them.    They also brought their heavy diving suits.     These weighed about 177 pounds each and had a copper helmet with an air hose.    Obviously this was a hazardous operation.    At one time there were 1,550 divers who had settled in the area.

Today there are still a few divers harvesting the natural sponges.    This boat was sorting and unloading its sponges.    

I don't have pictures of the five types of sponges gathered in this area, but each type has specific recommended uses.

The wool sponge is named after its soft resemblance to sheep's wool and is perfect for bathing.

The yellow sponge facilitates exfoliating while bathing.    I'll let you know if it works!

The grass sea sponge is firm, dense and fine.    Used for washing, household cleaning and decorative painting.

The silk sponge is a cosmetic sponge ideal for facial cleansing and makeup.

The basket/vase sponge is self descriptive.    They had them on display with air plants, but many are large enough to use as a decorative outer vase.

 This third boat was also sorting and unloading their harvest.

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We were not able to get inside the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral because of services.    (I got this photo from google images)

It was built in 1941 as a replica of St. Sophia Church in Constantinople  (Istanbul) which is said to be one of the most beautiful churches in the world.    This replica has Byzantine architecture, 60 tons of Greek marble and a fine collection of religious artworks.

The mango sangrias were great.     Lunch hadn't arrived yet but we are enjoying our bread and olive oil.         RJ is so engrossed in the brochure he didn't even see the shapely, bikini clad woman who came out to sunbathe on the front of the boat moored right next to us!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Wildlife on "Our" Preserve .........

One of the things I love most about our new home is that we are right on the large Sharon Rose Wiechens Preserve.      We hear and see wildlife all the time.

On April 26th this family of Sandhill Crane's walked within a few feet of us.     For some reason I didn't have my camera handy, but was able to catch them departing.     The feet on those little cranes were moving pretty fast. 

As Bob and I were returning from lunch today, just 2  1/2 weeks later, we saw the family again a few blocks before our house.     It's amazing how fast those babies have grown.     The other parent was walking ahead - hopefully there wasn't a Mother's Day spat!

More babies on the way - I spotted this Common Gallinule sitting on the nest.    Can babies be far behind?

My Magnolia tree is about 7 feet tall and spindly as all young trees tend to be.     It did put on a beautiful show of blossoms, though.     

Life is good in The Villages  .....................

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Time to Relocate...............

We were relaxing on the lanai during Happy Hour, thinking it was just the two of us.      Little did I know that we had visitors, hundreds of them!       Our new palm by the lanai had a new addition that had not been there earlier in the day.

By sunrise this morning, the hive had increased in size.   (Yes, we were up very early as RJ had an early morning sports thing going on)

Fortunately, last night RJ googled for a friendly bee keeper.   We called Scott (who just happens to sell honey at the Farmer's Market we frequent).     Unfortunately, he wouldn't be able to come over, but referred us to Johnny who was thrilled to start a new hive.

He was equally thrilled that it was only 4 feet off the ground and easily accessible.     He just snipped off the dead branch and placed it in the box.      

He leaves the box sit for a while to attract more of the bees that were flying around.   He then sprayed a sugar concoction on the lid and waited to attract more of the bees that he could then place in the box.

Although Johnny is not a "Villager" he lives nearby and has been here over 40 years.      He gave us lots of information about The Keys, where we plan to visit this summer.     He has spent a month or more there every year most of his adult life.     He's a diver, fisherman and also goes down for spiney lobster season.

He also talked about going to the Gulf coast with his kids and grandkids every September for scallop season.     I learned you find them in the grass areas in 3-6 feet of water.     Can you imagine how delicious they would taste!    

Time to close up and head home.     He has a box waiting for the bees with a honeycomb inside.  

Johnny thanked us again for calling and gave us a bottle of his JB's Wildflower Honey as a parting gift.      It's a win-win-win situation.      I no longer have a swarm of bees outside my door, Johnny gets to start a new hive and the bees have a new home..........

Sunday, March 19, 2017

BOBCAT - very close ..........

Bob and I had been watching this animal with the binoculars as it made its way closer and closer to our house while it walked the perimeter of the preserve.

Okay, the pictures are bad, but it was sunset (thus poor light)  and I was nervous.      This Bobcat was very close to our house, and of course I was outside trying to get a great shot.   Granted, I was elevated a bit and there is a minor fence, but ....     Look at his/her hind legs and you will understand why I wasn't sure I should be that close.     Serious muscles there......

There were several minutes   (okay maybe 1 or 2)  of eye to eye contact.....

Right after I took this shot it crouched down and jutted his head toward me.    I broke eye contact and walked (didn't run) away.

I don't think I will be that foolish again  (then again, ......... )

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Landscaping is Done ..............................

We are so happy with the finished product.       Susan did a great job designing it and rolling along with the on-the-spot adjustments that I made.  

This is our backyard and the plantings along the lanai.      You can see the magnolia and that smaller bed at the end.

Another view ......

This Roebellini is on the corner of our garage.

A view from the drive-way to the street.     We added a couple planters so I have a place to putz when I need to play in the dirt.

The plants along the lanai and in this lower garden were primarily chosen for their height - we insisted that it's naturally full height would not block our view when we are seated on the lanai.    

My pride and joy - the Pineapple Palm.     This was the only plant I knew for certain I had to have.

Sunset and our new landscaping.     Life is Good!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Trees arrive.......................

We are getting two large palms  (along with 3 additional crew members)

The Canary Palm   (also called Pineapple Palm) is going in the backyard corner bed where we can see it from the lanai.     This is my favorite item of everything being planted today.      We were able to tag the trees/plants we wanted at the nursery a few days earlier.

At this point the tractor is still hooked to the tree until the crew stabilizes it and Susan is satisfied that it is positioned correctly.

They keep the fronds tied together until it is completely planted, etc.

The sod cutter is back in business.     The bed is at least doubled from the original size.     A little more fine tuning of the shape  (at my request) and we are set.     RJ knows me so well.     He says that we can always adjust it later if I want.     It's easy to cut out sod.  

It's time for the big reveal - the cords are cut...........

What do you think?      I can certainly understand why they kept it tied until now!

It's now time to install the Sylvester Palm by the guest room window out front.

The process is the same, but this palm is a bit smaller and easier to manage.

The reveal.....  

The rest of the afternoon  (til Happy Hour) was spent planting all the smaller plants/trees and laying the pine straw.

Tomorrow's blog will be the finished product.      We love it .........

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Landscaping begins..................

We bought a new home, so we had typical builder landscaping - nothing too exciting.      We've been in for three months and decided it was time to make it our own.....

Our front was nice enough with a magnolia tree, etc.     I never did like the flowering tree next to the house.     We donated that to the compost pile!

We moved in November 21st.     The next day was my birthday and I decided the best gift I could give myself would be to pull out all the ugly shrubs they had planted along our lanai.     It was actually a very easy job since they had been in the ground less than a month.

The designer and crew of three arrived around 9 a.m. and began unloading.    

We have been working with Susan (lime green shirt) a landscape designer at a local nursery.    She is one of those neat ladies who understands that while she is the expert, I am the customer.     There were lots and lots of changes as the day progressed and she took it all in stride.   In fact, after our two meetings at the nursery (and one at our home) she knew what she was facing and brought a few options for me that weren't in the plan.     Smart lady!

The crew wasted no time in removing the Magnolia tree and moving it to the backyard.

They placed the muhly grass and flowering firecracker plants along the back.      There is a bottlebrush shrub at each end   (one of them also moved from the front yard)

It was time to remove sod and form the featured bed.     It was obvious immediately that it was way too small.      Susan assured me it will be adjusted once the tree arrives.

Our large tree bed will also have two sago palms, and filler plants.     These two guys took turns digging the hole.    Fortunately we are mostly sand and it was cool today   (75 degrees)      I delivered a lot of bottles of water!     The bales are pine straw which we use as mulch.

This bed at the other end of our back yard also got enlarged a couple times.      I am so glad Susan is a patient person.      I was frequently changing placement of the plants   (you know how I like spacing between things).     I did agree that this smaller bed should be more closely planted - I can always dig a few out later if need be.

When we broke for lunch, I was sitting on the lanai and two finch were already in my bottlebrush bush.   YES!

At this point the truck arrived with the trees.     That, however, will be tomorrow's post.