Following my husband's death in 2008, I moved from Tennessee to Florida to look after my parents. Now I'm living in a retirement community, making friends and trying new things. The most fun I've had has been ballroom dancing. So far, I've taken intro lessons in all the dances and now I'm starting intermediate. I hardly have time to read anymore but I manage four or five dances a week!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Having Fun Again

Playing with the blog layout.  It's just so much fun.

When I was younger, I used to move residences every year.  I was renting and didn't have much furniture so it wasn't a big deal.  Then, when I was in a more permanent home, I'd change the furniture around.  Just needing a change of scenery.  Now I'm doing it with my blog.  heh heh

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Year 2010 in Review

I remember when my parents retired (almost 30 years ago), they seemed busier than when they were working. I’m beginning to understand this phenomenon better. I honestly don’t believe I’ve ever been as active and social as I am right now.

Sandy and Liz are still getting walked twice a day. The morning walk is long for two reasons. First, Sandy has to take some pills for his liver that need an hour in his system before he eats. So pills, as soon as I wake up, then walk – for nearly an hour. The mornings are the best time (in the summer) for the long walk because the temperature is as low as it’s going to get for the day. Most of this summer it wasn’t over 80 and was usually around 70. Of course, it’s already gotten below freezing a few mornings this year, and last winter the cold was brutal…for Florida. In January and February, many people lost a lot of plants, trees and bushes to the freezing temperatures. Brrrrr.

Uncle Henry & my mom, Clara

Every day I go across the street and have afternoon tea with Mom and Dad. Then at 4:25, not 4:15 and not 4:30, Mom and I feed all our dogs and go for the afternoon walk. Mom has this schedule, you understand, and she really likes to stick to it. LOL On Sundays, I also go over at 10:00am to visit until lunch at noon. Uncle Henry (Mom's younger brother) comes over too. Most of the time we get take-away and either Henry or I go get it. Occasionally, Mom cooks.

I’m still dancing – usually three or four times a week. Dennis and I are exclusive now and we’re so intuitive that our dancing just flows. In April, we were asked to do a dance exhibition to replace a couple who cancelled at the last minute – we had 6 days to prepare something. We chose a rumba because it’s our favorite dance. It turned out very well, I think. Our friend, Richard, videotaped the performance. Then, later in October, we were asked to do another exhibition and this time we did a west coast swing. It was great fun, learning new moves in preparation for the performance. The song we chose, Why Don’t We Just Dance, was perhaps a little too fast for the dance, but we did it anyway. The camera ran out of space so we didn’t get a video of that one.

Mom and I have season tickets to Ocala Civic Theater. That's the local playhouse and they do some fantastic productions. Their Signature Series shows are suitable for all ages, like Peter Pan and The Wizard of Oz, which were absolutely amazing. Then there is the Ovation Series for mature audiences. These are wonderful too, but in a different way, with smaller casts and are often thought provoking. Nothing too controversial ... although they are putting on The Full Monty next month.

Charity Ball
Dennis and I were co-chairs for the Charity Ball given by USA Dance Ocala to benefit Hospice of Marion County. We both feel a connection to Hospice because both our spouses were under hospice care when they died. It was a labor of love and it was also lots of fun. We raised $1,700 for Hospice.

In June, we went to Las Vegas for an Ince family reunion (that’s my mother’s maiden name). Uncle Henry was celebrating his 80th birthday, Don (his oldest son) was celebrating a birthday and Andy (the youngest son) was celebrating a wedding anniversary. Dennis was amazing as he memorized everyone’s names – children, grandchildren, girlfriends and miscellaneous friends. At the end of the week, the whole crowd went to see Cirque du Soleil’s show Mystere, which was fantastic.

I’ve done some remodeling in my lovely home. I put wood floors throughout and converted a vinyl windowed sun porch into a finished, air-conditioned sunroom with sliding glass doors and a built in doggie door. It was seven weeks of construction: living with workers coming at 7:00 am, dust everywhere and torrential rains at just the wrong times. I spend most of my time in this room now and just love it. The kitchen also got a facelift – brown quartz countertops, new stove, dishwasher and sink. It looks pretty snazzy.

In May, I reconnected with two old friends. Dale was a roommate in college (nearly 40 years ago). She discovered that I only live a few blocks from her mom, so when she came down to visit, we spent some time together. Then, my old Sifu from kung fu days, David Rose, and his wife, Zan, were in Crystal River scuba diving for a week, so Den and I drove over and had dinner with them.

Birthday Party at Gabrielle's
The week before Thanksgiving, I went to Pennsylvania with Dennis to meet his family. His aunt, Esther Chichilitti, was celebrating her 80th birthday and all the cousins wanted to make it special for her. It was just a bit intimidating for an only child to meet such a large family, but I survived. It helped that I met one small group at a time. We stayed with Aunt Esther who still lives in the same house she was born in. I can now admit that my body has become acclimated to Florida. I thought I’d never get warm while we were in PA and it wasn’t even freezing!

Hilda & Linda
For Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad had a crowd. Dennis came with his Uncle Bill and a friend of the family, Hilda. Uncle Henry was there along with two of my friends (Richard and Gail) who were at loose ends.  Add in my two dogs and Mom's dog, Lacey, all begging at the table and it was quite a gathering.  Den and I picked up meals from The Mason Jar to save Mom from the hectic stress of cooking. We served and cleaned up and all Mom had to do was entertain. From what we could hear in the kitchen, she was doing a great job at that – everyone was laughing at her stories.

Sunset on Captiva Island
This year I turned 60 and my birthday happened to fall on the same day as our USA Dance. It was fun, like a party where everyone gets to dance. Dennis arranged to surprise me with a cake and candles and everyone at the dance sang happy birthday to me (and this is just never done). Then Den had the DJ (Bob Arthur) play "our song", Beyond the Sea by Bobby Darin and we danced a foxtrot around the dance floor. It was glorious and romantic. He's a real treasure. I'm so lucky to have found him. Topping off my birthday, was a trip to Captiva Island for two days with Den. I believe this may have been the best birthday EVER.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dinner at Carmine's Cafe

Dennis and I had dinner at Carmine's the other night.  It was our first time and was a delightful surprise.  Outwardly it is an unassuming restaurant in a little strip mall about three minutes from where I live.  In fact, I've never noticed it before.  But a couple of women were talking about this wonderful meal they'd had at a local restaurant so I asked them where it was.  Imagine my surprise to learn it was so close by.

Anyway, when we arrived there were a couple of children running around outside and as we neared the entrance, the little boy banged on the door and yelled "There's someone coming!  Unlock the door!"  We were wondering what was going on.  Turns out there were three kids playing and one of them had locked the door on the other two.  I imagine their parents were just a tad embarrassed.  *grin*

We were seated at a very nice table for two along the wall and immediately given menus.  Then the accordionist began to play.  This gave the place an authentic atmosphere and Den became quite nostalgic.  His two uncles used to play the accordion.  So he tipped the accordion player to "serenade" me.  Later he asked the man to play "Spanish Eyes" so we could dance a little rumba.  *sigh*  It was soooo romantic.

And there there's the food.  Although there were a number of dishes in the menu that appealed to us, we decided to go with the two specials.  Angelo, the owner, served our meals, himself.  Since it was a little slow and because we were new, he spent a little while chatting with us.  The food was fantastic.  Den ate all of his (and regretted it later) while I saved half and ate it the next day.  The portions were quite generous.

When we arrived there was only one other couple in the restaurant but by the time we left, four other couples had come in.  It's not a large establishment so it has a nice, intimate feel and everyone who came in after us was greeted like a regular.  This is a well kept secret in SW Ocala and it could very well become our favorite place to dine.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dressed Up for Halloween, Again

Dennis and I both enjoy dressing up for Halloween. 

Once again we went to the Ocala Civic Theater for costumes, but only for his.  Doesn't he make a scary executioner?  *shudder*  The only drawback was that it was a very heavy and HOT costume.  Tough to dance in.  

I actually did two different outfits this year.  We had planned to go with the medieval theme so I bought a tavern wench dress a while back.  I'll use it again whenever we go to the Hoggetowne Faire in Gainesville or some other renaissance fair.  The wig was surprisingly like my hair when I was in my teens and 20's.

But we also went to the first Vampire Ball which was a fundraiser for the Humane Society.  Tavern wench didn't seem quite right so I wore a little black dress with a cape that had spider webs on it.  That was quite an affair.  Everyone came in costume - the more gruesome, the better.  And some people were amazingly creative.  One gal I spoke to spent over an hour making up her face to look like a skeleton.  Another guy had airbrushed his torso and head black and red so he looked like a devil.  All in all, it was FUN!!!

On Halloween night, Den and I dressed up to hand out candy to the kids.  We stayed outside and played spooky sounds and the candy was in a box that looked like a book of spells.  It was fun seeing all the costumes and goofing around with the teens.

We're already talking about costumes for next year.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Las Vegas

Just got back from my first visit to Las Vegas.  I'll just admit up front that it's not my kind of town.  I'm not a gambler and I'm a real wimp when it comes to the heat.  Yeah, I know, I live in Florida, it's hot here too, BUT when I walked outside in the sun in Vegas it felt like someone was touching my skin with an iron.  That's just too hot, dry or not.

We stayed at the Stratosphere which was nice enough but it was at the far end of the Strip - too far for me to walk, even at night, although it didn't seem to faze the younger generation.  Geez, it didn't cool down at all at night like it does here in Florida.  Every time we took a taxi somewhere it cost $20.  That adds up quickly.

Anyway, the purpose of the trip was my Uncle Henry decided to have a family reunion to celebrate his 80th birthday as well as his son's birthday (Don) and another son's wedding anniversary (Andy and Marie).  That's Henry in the black suit, Don is standing and Bob (the third son) is in the blue shirt.  There were 27 people there including friends and slightly extended family members (me).  It was fun seeing the children of my cousins and catching up on what they've been doing.

Most of the time everyone scattered and did their own thing.  One day we visited the Aria hotel and casino.  My neighbors who are walking the pups while I'm gone have a son who works there and we had promised to say hi.  We loved that hotel.  It had a quiet elegance that was not as nerve jangling as the other casinos.  And they had a great ventilation system that handled the smoke.  Yeah, I hated having to walk through a smoky casino to get anywhere.  Blech!  Anyway, when we found Randy at a craps table he got really nervous and indicated we should move away.  Turned out he was working a table that had been reserved by a "whale" which is what they call the really big spenders.  The table had been roped off and the guy didn't want any women within his line of sight while he was playing.  He had a 3 million dollar credit limit.  Whew!  No wonder they were catering to him.  We also went to the Aria to have lunch with a couple we met on the plane from Orlando.  They were a lot of fun.

On our second night there we went to a show where the performers imitated famous entertainers.  It was an uneven performance but we did enjoy the Elvis, Charlie Daniels and Michael Jackson impersonators.  In fact, the Charlie Daniels impersonator was a fill in for another performer and I thought he was the best of the lot.  LOL  And except for the Britney Spears act, the music was all good.

There was a vendor in the hotel who did temporary tattoos and Dennis convinced me to get one.  *shaking head*  I still can't believe I did that.  But I went along because, hey, you do stuff in Vegas you wouldn't do anywhere else.  Right?

One of the "rides" at the Stratosphere is a bungee jump from the observation tower.  Keep in mind the tower is one of the tallest buildings in the US and Sally, Bob's daughter, decided she wanted to jump, so her mom and dad paid for it.  Den and I kept her company on the tower until she jumped, the rest of the gang watched from the 8th floor pool (outside) and I think her mom cowered somewhere until it was over.  Carla has a severe fear of heights and when we saw her a few minutes after Sally's jump she was white as a sheet.  Pictured with Sally here are Jeff and Eric (two of Don's sons).

On the last night, we all got together for a dinner at Fellini's in a private dining room.  It was very congenial although a bit cramped.  The food was excellent although there was way too much.  The wait staff was excellent.  Henry was sure that starting the dinner at 5:30 would give us plenty of time to get to the show which started at 9:30 but we ended up having to rush.  The show was incredible - a perfect ending to our stay in Las Vegas.  It was Cirque du Soleil's Mystere.  As all of Cirque's shows are magical, so was this one.  The acts were astounding, the music hauntingly beautiful, the comedy hilarious and the ending blew me away.  When Den and I were talking about shows to see, I mentioned that I would love to attend a performance of those large Japanese drums.  And that was the finale to Mystere.  What are the odds?

So now I can say I've been to Vegas.  Oh, and yes, I did gamble a little.  Den talked me into it.  I played the penny and nickel poker machines and in the end came out ahead by $2.40.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Charity Ball - May 18

This year, Dennis and I were co-chairs for the Charity Ball given by USA Dance to benefit Hospice of Marion County.  We both feel a connection to Hospice because both our spouses were under hospice care when they died.  Plus Den's wife, Sandy, worked for Hospice of Marion County.

We arrived at the Pioneer Gardens around 5:00 to set up and the air conditioning was off. That was fun ... NOT.  Thankfully, someone came and turned it on just before the dance started.  One other little hiccup was that one bag full of decorations for the VIP tables somehow didn't make it to the dance so Den went out and bought new tablecloths, napkins and champagne glasses.  My hero came to the rescue.

We got "Automatic" Amee and Henry as the band and they were wonderful.  They played a good number of fox trots and waltzes and rumbas as well as cha-chas, swings and slow dances.  There was something for everyone since we had quite a few non-ballroom dancers as well as our ballroom dance members.  On the right is a good shot of the dance floor with Norma and Bill in the foreground.

We had a lot of help with decorations and food from various club members.  At left, Gail, painted butterfly centerpieces for all the tables since the butterfly is the symbol for Hospice.  There was VIP seating at an extra charge that had black tablecloths with silver butterflies and champagne.  Lots of people brought food for the buffet table which really could have been called a "groaning table".  Frieda and Al always take care of the refreshments and they kept an eye on everything this night as well.

Many of the area dance teachers provided dance exhibitions: Joe Mounts, Jamey Webb, Danila Tobias and Charles Cook.  On the right is Jamey Webb with Diedre.  All the dances were wonderful entertainment.  Jamey's dance was particularly mesmerizing.

Another thing we did for the charity ball that we don't normally do at our dances was have raffles.  One of our volunteers, Ella, sold tickets and we had nearly 20 gift baskets in which one could place as many tickets as one wished in hopes of winning that gift.  The most popular gift basket was the $50 gift certificate to Horse & Hounds Restaurant. During one of the breaks between dance exhibitions, Dennis announced our sponsors and Wayne and Susan helped distribute the gifts.  It flowed smoothly because Wayne and Susan worked great together.

After all the expenses were deducted we raised $1700 for Hospice of Marion County.  For such a small organization as ours, that is phenomenal.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Another Old Friend

The day after my visit with Dale, another old friend came down to Florida.  Two friends, actually ... well, one was a friend the other was my "Sifu" when I was taking kung fu in Virginia.  Can't really call him my friend.  In fact, it was strange calling him David.  He was always "Sifu".   Always.  With respect and a bow.

David and Zan had come down to Crystal River to dive for a few days so Dennis and I drove over to have dinner with them.  They were celebrating their 25th anniversary during this trip.  I haven't seen them since I left Virginia to move to Albuquerque in '83 or '84.  Although we've kept in touch every Christmas, it was delightful seeing them again.  David is now a "Master" although he isn't teaching as much as he used to.  Zan quit kung fu just short of her black sash, right around the time they got married.

We had a little trouble finding the hotel even though I had googled the location and printed out the directions.  Den had his iPhone map out and insisted we turn left on route 19.  We kept driving and driving and finally he had to acknowledge that perhaps we were going the wrong way.  LOL  It's apparently the first time his iPhone map has steered him wrong.  If my google directions had been wrong I wouldn't have been surprised because it has taken me to the wrong location on numerous occasions but this time it was right.  *sigh*

Poor Zan was a little stiff because the dive site had a lot of stairs and they had to walk them wearing all their gear.  Every time we came to a few steps she'd say, "Oh look, Zan, steps."  Then we'd all laugh.  Den kept us entertained during dinner with one funny story after another, then we ended up in a round robin of joke telling (except for me, of course).  The food at Charlie's was excellent.  All in all, the evening was wonderful.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Catching Up with Old Friends

Sunday, I visited with a girlfriend from college.  She was a freshman during my senior year but we belonged to the same sorority.  We recently reconnected through Facebook.  My memories of Dale are that she was particularly kind and thoughtful.  I must say, time has only improved her character.

She was down here in Ocala visiting her mother and was looking through the OTOW phone book looking for a particular name.  She ran across mine and wondered if I could possibly be the same person.  I found her email at the end of the day just before I was going out for the evening so I emailed back that indeed I was.  Her Mom just happened to live two blocks away.  We arranged to meet and visit on Sunday afternoon.  I met her Mom, then Dale came over to my house for a little while, we walked my dogs around the block and then she met my Mom and Dad.  A truly lovely afternoon.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rumba Dance Exhibition, Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Thursday night (April 8), Dennis got a call from the president of the Ocala Dance Club.  The message simply said, "Call me".  I asked Den if he had any idea what it might be about; did he think maybe someone had complained that we had been too affectionate on the dance floor, or something.  Of course, he didn't know.

So Friday the 9th, he talks with Joe and Joe asks if Den would do a dance exhibition for the club.  The couple who had been scheduled, cancelled.  The performance would be on Tuesday night, the 13th.  Well, Dennis doesn't say no very well, so he figured he could call me and I'd say it for him.  We danced around it for a bit with, "Well, do you want to do it?"  "I don't know, what do you want to do?"  Finally, I said if he thought we could do it without embarrassing ourselves, I would try.

Dennis left a message for our dance instructor, Trish, to please call, but she didn't.  So, Friday night we wrote down a list of all the moves we have in rumba, three of which we had just been shown in our intermediate rumba class on Thursday night.  We didn't really HAVE the moves, we just had an idea of how they worked.  Then we put everything we knew together in a string.

Saturday the 10th we practiced again but since we hadn't heard from Trish, Den called Joe Mounts, another ballroom dance teacher.  He returned the call immediately and said he'd come to my house on Sunday to help us.  Bless his heart.

Sunday the 11th, we had at least a very full hour with Joe.  He cleaned up my turns, showed me how to do one of the new moves correctly, and tweaked the ending.  Then we practiced for another couple of hours.

Monday the 12th, I kept working on my turns and the move called fan and hockey stick.  I wasn't stepping correctly although sometimes I'd get it right.  I wasn't happy with that, so I repeated it until the right way was the only way I could do it.  Practice, practice, practice.  We got together again that night and worked on it until we did it three times without messing up.

On Tuesday morning, 7:45, Trish called Den and told him she forbid him using the new moves she had just shown us in class the previous week.  She said, "Linda doesn't have the footwork or the turns and she has no styling.  It will look ridiculous."  Den said, "Okay."  Of course, it was too late to change anything.  And then it was showtime.

I didn't have time to get nervous.  I just did it.  

Dennis is such a good dancer, he makes me look much better than I am.  His leads were perfect and he remembered the sequence of moves.  We had a good time while we were performing and I think it showed.  I enjoy dancing with him so much.

It was funny how the men admired the way he rose slowly from the kneeling position with only my finger under his chin.  And it was impressive.  He's very fit and his legs are really strong for any age, much less 60.  

Monday, April 19, 2010

Remodeling Week Seven 4/5 - 4/11

Charlie laid the flooring in the sunroom, at last.  Troy is pretty sure he sealed the source of the water intrusion.

We added some trim around the Neuma doors in the bedroom.

Here's Troy and Jerritt after they hung my swing.

And here are the "finished" pictures.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Remodeling Week Six 3/29 - 4/4

March 28th there was a very strong thunderstorm that passed through and I had leaks.  Not from the ceiling but seeping along the floor.  Argh!  Troy and Jerritt, my two supervisors, aren't really sure where the water intrusion is occurring.  It's all along the East wall as well as the South side where the sliding glass doors are.  Naturally, the floors were supposed to be installed Monday, the 29th.  *sigh*  Two weeks before, I waited for the plaster to dry, now I have to wait for the floor to dry.  AND we need to find out where the water is seeping in so it doesn't happen again.

While Troy and Jerritt were investigating the water intrusion problem, Charlie Carpenter (yup, that's really his name and he's really a carpenter) replaced the carpet in my library and two bedrooms with laminate flooring which matches the flooring in the rest of the house.  Charlie and his helper, Jeff, moved all the furniture so the library wasn't too bad to clear out.  However, I had to move all the clothes from the guest closet so they had easy access to the floor.  I had also been using that closet for miscellaneous storage.  There was a lot of stuff in there! This forced me to get better organized.  So, Tuesday Charlie did the library, Wednesday, the guest bedroom and Friday was the master bedroom.

Also on Tuesday, I got the rest of my fence put up.  Now the whole back yard is fenced and the dogs can use the doggy door.  Of course, the floor is dusty but the dogs don't care.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Remodeling Week Five 3/22 - 3/28

Now I'm catching up.

Monday, the plaster finally dried and the painters did the room in a nice, soft tan which matches my den.  The match is important because the two areas flow together now.

Tuesday, the electrician finished his work but he had to put up my old light fixture outside because the pretty one he brought wouldn't fit.  There's about a foot between the fixture and the overhang so the light need to hang down.  I told him I'd buy one then he could come back and replace it.  He agreed.

Wednesday, some trim work was done as well as the termite treatment which is apparently a requirement.  It's not that any bugs were found.  Also the French door to the bedroom was removed.  Immediate egress from a bedroom to the outside must be possible or a house doesn't pass inspection.

Thursday, the home inspector came by and I passed!  Yay!!!

Friday, Windows Plus installed some awesome sliding glass doors with blinds in the doors.  They are made by Neuma.  I wish I'd seen it before the outside doors had been installed because I would have chosen this door for the outside instead of what was used.  Oh well.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Defective Mac?

I can't believe it!  Except it happened to me.  *sigh*  The disc drive didn't work on my new MacBook Pro.  I didn't discover it until Wednesday when I tried to burn a DVD.  (If I can ever figure out how to get the video to play in my blog I'll post it, but so far no luck.)

Anyway, Dennis and I performed a rumba exhibition which a friend of ours videotaped.  We tried to burn a copy so my parents could watch it on their TV.  It wouldn't work.  At first we thought it was the disc but then we found it wouldn't play CDs or DVDs either.

I called Apple and they offered to replace it.  Sadly that meant I would have to return the new Mac before they would send a new one.  I did that yesterday.  The good news is they are sending me the new model that just came out.  It will have a new intel core processor either i5 or i7 (my guess is i5), next generation NVIDIA graphics and a 10-hour battery life.  Now I'm not a techie but I did notice that the Mac I'm returning had 2.8GHz processor and the new Mac will have 2.66GHz processor and that doesn't sound faster or better but we'll see.  Don't know when I'll get it, but at least I still have my old Mac.  Bless it's reliable little heart.

An in spite of this, I can't imagine ever going back to a PC.  EVER.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Oops, my bad

Must have been a temporary glitch.  Everything is working like it was before.  

So how do you you like my new format?  

Monday, March 29, 2010

Where'd My Pictures Go?

The great news is I got a new MacBook Pro. It's quite a step up from my little MacBook and has all kinds of nifty features.

However, the bad news is that Blogger no longer seems to be able to find the pictures on my computer. What's up with that? To upload a picture Blogger only allows me to choose from pictures on either Picasa or a url. Arrgghhhh!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Remodeling Week Four 3/15 - 3/21

I forgot to mention the big plastic room divider they built in part of my den.  It's to keep a lot of the dust out of the house now that the arched doorway is open to the sunroom.  So I have my dining room table sitting in front of half my couch and a big plastic wall that rustles.  Oh yeah, and there's dust - everywhere.

Actually this week all we've been doing is waiting for the plaster to dry.

I also had a stump removed from right in front of one of my pin oaks.  The new fencing will have to be contoured around the rise at the base of the tree but the stump was really in the way.  It was ground out in about 15 minutes.  Barkley's Tree Service came out as soon as I called and did a great job.  Thank you Richard.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wayland-Felton Wedding Reception

Norma Jean & Bill
Last Friday, Dennis and I went to a wedding reception for two dear friends of ours in the dance community - Bill Wayland and Norma Jean Felton. It was held at the Pioneer Garden Club where USA Dance holds their dances. Norma's daughter-in-law organized the whole thing. It was catered and Bob & Gladys Arthur were the DJs. More than half of the celebrants were dancers and it was called: Come Dance at My Wedding. We were more than happy to oblige. LOL

Dennis & Me
Norma and Bill had a huge picture of themselves from the wedding in the reception area and it had a wide bordered mat around which attendees were asked to sign. What a great idea! Much better than a guest book. Every time they look at the picture they can see who came to the reception.

Frank, Betty & Hilda
This last picture is of three special friends.  Hilda is an "adopted" member of Den's family and is the sweetest person.  Sitting with her are Frank and Betty.  Betty has been dancing a long time; Frank took up dancing and that's how he met Betty.  He's been taking a lot of private dance lessons to keep up with her.  LOL  I get such a kick out of Frank.  He's perfected the grumpy old man routine (although he really isn't) and he puts me in stitches all the time, laughing.

Den and I stayed for the entire three hours and danced almost every dance. Every once in a while, I'd suggest he ought to ask a single woman to dance. He's really good about doing this and the women are so very appreciative because he's such a joy to dance with. I'm a lucky woman because I get most of the dances.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Remodeling Week Three

So now the space has a new concrete floor, sliding glass doors with a doggy door in between and a shingled roof. We're ready to put in a vent for the A/C, insulation and drywall. The framer suggested that arches in the doorway to the den would be a nice touch since I don't plan to close the door anyway. Although I had promised Robert that I wouldn't make ANY changes once I'd signed the contract, I asked if this would be too much trouble and he said, no. In fact, I understand I won't even be charged extra for it. Yay! This was accomplished in three days.

The electrician came out and put the switches where they should have been and then it rained again. This time it was a real gully-washer. Thursday we got six inches of rain. I had a waterfall coming off the back roof. Plus the drywall and concrete floor were having a hard time drying because of all the moisture in the air. It didn't help that the drywall guy left the sliding glass doors open while he worked which let some rain in, as well. So Troy put an industrial fan in the room to try and dry the walls.  This thing is LOUD.  I finally had to turn it off and use my own little oscillating fan.  The drying may take longer but I'll still have my sanity.  *grin*

Sunday, March 21, 2010

FABI Conference at Mission Inn

A week ago, Dennis was the seminar presenter at a FABI (Florida Institute of Building Inspectors) conference. He talked about toxic drywall - what it was and how to recognize it. Then he had a session on Portland cement, it's history and composition. He took them on two walk-throughs of tricky inspections he had done. And last, he had a session on the chemistry of building materials.

Now I'll be honest, I couldn't imagine how he'd keep their attention and presence in that last lecture, but he did. I've seen one of his training videos and Dennis is a talented instructor. He keeps it light and interesting using jokes and a few magic tricks and he talks directly to the audience without any notes. He doesn't mind questions. But what is most impressive is how he deals with someone saying they really don't understand something. Instead of just saying it again, but slowly, he actually approaches the subject from a completely different point of view, explaining it so that the person can understand it. It's a gift.

The conference was held at the Mission Inn which is located in Howie-in-the-Hills. The Mission Inn is a beautiful resort hotel which we've been to once before. This time was even better. FABI put us up in the Valencia Suite, next door to the FABI Hospitality Suite. What a beautiful room and it had an even better view! Actually I don't think there's a bad view anywhere. I neglected to take any pictures on this trip so this view on the right is from our room during our first visit to the resort. In the suite, however, the balcony ran the length of the bedroom and the living room.

I didn't stay the whole weekend. Mom had gotten tickets for us to go to a fashion show at On Top of the World but we weren't certain about the date until after I had agreed to go with Dennis on this weekend. So Saturday, I drove to Ocala to attend the (three hour) fashion show and then drove back to Howie-in-the-Hills for the remainder of the weekend. Luckily it was only a 65 minute drive. But I had to miss almost all of Dennis's lectures.

Sunday morning was lovely. Although we stayed on the comfy couch, we had the doors open to the balcony and we were sitting with our coffee, eating the fruit and cheese that was included with the room, listening to the birds sing and watching an eagle (we think it was an eagle) feeding a hatchling.

Dennis had a lecture at 9:30 and then things kind of fell apart, for me. He sent me back to the room for a camera. I couldn't get in - the key card wouldn't work. Well, I'd noticed it didn't always work the first time from the beginning but thought it was operator error. I went down to the front desk and got a new card and returned to the room. *sigh* That one didn't work either. So, still thinking it was operator error, I went down to the desk again and asked for assistance. The doorman tried the key card and it still didn't work so he called for assistance from Engineering. They had this contraption that would open the door manually. Todd, the first man to respond to the call, couldn't work the contraption right so he called for Richard, who had more experience with this sort of thing. Apparently it was a dead battery in the door lock. Yay, not operator error after all. However, Dennis was getting worried because I had been gone nearly 90 minutes.

When I finally got back to him he was on the chemistry lecture and I was amazed because 90% of the conference participants were still there. It's a testament to how interesting they found him that they were willing to brave a session on the chemistry of building products. And many stayed afterward with questions. He definitely held their interest for the whole weekend. A number of them told him he was the best presenter they'd had. I was very proud of him.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Remodeling Week Two

The shingles went on, Monday, March 1. Someone was still on the roof, finishing up, when I left at 6:45 PM.

On March 2nd they continued to work on the roof and did some framing for the new walls. They removed a window and boarded it up on the 3rd.

Finally, on the 4th, they installed the two sliding glass doors with a doggy door panel in between that will be the walls of my new sunroom and put in the new wiring.

Friday Troy and I had our first disagreement. The electrician had placed the switches for the room four feet away from the door. This was what was specified on his drawing but I was certain that was not what I had told Robert when we were drawing up the contract. In fact, I'm pretty sure I specified where I wanted the switches for the light and fan. It was NOT where the electrician put them. Troy called Robert and explained the situation. Robert's reply was simple and to the point, "Make her happy." heh heh That works for me.

That evening I looked at my contract papers and, sure enough, on the drawings which I approved, the light switches for the fan and light were beside the doorway - just where I had requested. Someone decided to change their location without clearing it with me first. But at least I knew the error was not mine.