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!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Dancing with the Doctors

Two weeks ago, we went to a fundraiser organized by Dr. Justin Ferns. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Marion County were the main recipients along with the Youth Programs of the Ocala Police Department.

Trish Sands, a local dance instructor, taught some of the kids an east coast swing dance routine to perform at this glittering event held at Jumbolair in Anthony. It's cute. They did pretty good considering this probably isn't the kind of music OR dance the kids are used to. Betty Dangar, a friend of ours as well as a Board member of USA Dance, made the costumes for the girls in just a few days.

There were also a lot of professional dancers giving exhibitions as well as local doctors. We didn't have enough card memory to record all the exhibitions, but they were amazing.

Here's a west coast swing performed by one of our favorite teachers, Donna Steinfeld, and her dance partner, Shawn Swaithes. It's kind of hard to see because they are wearing black and the background is black, but it's still pretty awesome. Dennis remarked that the routine was so professional there weren't any moves he could "steal". *chuckle* What Donna and Shawn are doing is performance dancing, I can't imagine doing a lot of this on a regular dance floor.

There was some open dancing which was fun, but it was a small dance floor and there were a lot of really good dancers wanting to "strut their stuff".

It was a catered dinner (Chef Brothers Catering) which was surprisingly good. I was ever so shocked when the waitress came by our table asking if anyone would prefer a vegetarian meal. Of course, immediately my hand shot up, but I was the only one at our table of ten. And it was delicious. I had all the veggies the other diners had as well as a spicy pasta and eggplant parmesan. In fact, there was more than I could eat. Dennis said his meal was delicious too. Oh and how could I forget the scrumptious dessert! Chocolate dipped strawberries, cheesecake and chocolate mousse. (I made room for all of it.)

Um, have I mentioned I'm having a little trouble keeping my weight down? Dennis and I are eating out more often ... and this dinner certainly didn't help. LOL

Monday, July 25, 2011

It's a Whole Family!

Looks like I have more than just one armadillo, I've got three!  Last night the dogs were going crazy in the back yard, trying to get at something just on the other side of the fence.  I went out and discovered three armadillos, not just the one I thought I had.  Two of them headed back to the den, but one of them just ignored the dogs and continued rooting around in the flower bed just inches from two snarling, barking dogs as if he didn't hear a thing.  *sigh*  I had to herd the dogs inside and close the doggie door so we didn't further annoy the (human) neighbors.

So hear are more pictures of my new neighbors:

They are very quiet neighbors, even if my dogs are not.  LOL

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Birthday Party

Dennis turned 62 on Thursday, so I hosted a party for him.  I've been in this house for 2-1/2 years and it's the first party I've had.  The living room is particularly large and I've always thought it would be good for dancing.  Finally I found out I was right.

Dennis blowing out the candles
I had the food catered by Genesis Heaven and Health in Ocala.  Mark & Rene Ramirez specialize in organic, healthy food and smoothies.  The restaurant on Broadway is just a hole in the wall but it's a little treasure.  The cake was from Betty Cakes in Your Heart's Desire on Silver Springs Blvd.  It was all delicious.
Eileen and Norma

Uncle Henry, Richard, Dennis J, Rudy and Henry H.

Pat and Mary
There were about 20 people and it was just a bit crowded since my kitchen isn't that large.  But that's where the food was and so that's where everyone congregated.  LOL

 After most of the food was gone we moved into the living room for dancing.  What fun that was.  I was truly amazed that we could get five couples following line of dance for waltz and fox trot in my living room!
Merle and Dennis, I'm sitting

Den danced with most of the ladies there.  Here he's doing an East Coast Swing with Merle.  Which reminds me ... the police came to the door during the party.  It appears that Merle parked her SUV where she was blocking someone's driveway and instead of coming to me, they called the police!  I thought it was kind of funny, actually.

Dennis and I dancing

I did get a few dances in with Dennis, but honestly my feet were killing me by the time the group had moved to the living room.  My dance shoes aren't made for standing around.  

Oh and Mom came.  A few of the folks from OTOW remembered her from when she and Dad took dance lessons from Trish.  (Not that they needed lessons; they've always danced together and did it effortlessly and gracefully.)  It was great that they were able to reconnect.  And she looked great, I thought.

So Dennis had a fun birthday party and I got to see how well dancing fit in my living room.  I am now more willing to have more dance parties in the future.  It was delightful!

Mr. Armadillo

I have a new neighbor.  He built (or perhaps it would be more proper to say "dug") his home under this big rock at the corner of my property.  It really is an ideal location.  The rock is really large so there's plenty of room.  Then the ligustrum and crepe myrtles provide lovely shade.

This morning, while returning from the dog walk, we saw him hustling toward home.  I had enough time to get my camera and just barely caught him.
I finally got the zoom to work so you can see Mr. Armadillo a little better.
Here's a close-up of his front door.
I added this little sign so the yard workers won't disturb him.

There's also a coyote around our community but I don't know where the den is.   I love all this wildlife.  Amazing to find it in a gated retirement community!  LOL

Monday, July 11, 2011

Finished Bath Remodel

Well, I was going to do a week by week visual of the remodeling of my bath, but ... not going to happen.  What I'll provide is before and after pictures.  I'm so lazy.

So here's a before picture.  The laundry baskets sat behind the door.  I would sit on the toilet to put on makeup.  

Now I have an area where I can sit and put on make-up and a whole lot more storage space.  The laundry baskets are in the corner under the counter.  The door was replaced by a pocket door so there's a lot more space.

The other side of the bathroom before the remodel.  I had a portable radiator (seen on bottom left corner) to warm my towel (yes I know that's weird in Florida but I like it).

I changed the overall color scheme from white to cream with natural wood cabinets.  

Instead of the portable radiator I had a towel warmer installed (there on the left) which doubles as the towel rack.  I also had a seat built in (behind the knee wall) at a specific height that would make bathing the dogs easier.  Yes, my life revolves around my pups.  And instead of sliding shower doors we installed a swinging glass door.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just Shoot Me Now

A year ago I remodeled a screened in porch into an enclosed sunroom.  It was a very messy project that lasted (what seemed like) forever.  I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to remodel my master bath.  I should have remembered the dust, debris and disruption that remodeling causes.

Plastic in bedroom

Right down to the studs

Future pocket door
The first day was tear out.  Although they laid a paper trail from the bath to the front door, placed plastic between the bath and the master bedroom and kept the bedroom door closed (sometimes) ... gritty gypsum dust found its way into every nook and cranny of my entire house!  Argh!!  But they took it down to the studs.

Two gangs and new piping
On the second day, the electricians put in wiring for the lights and towel warmer switch.  I questioned the two single gang outlets by the door and was told one switch was for the towel warmer and one was for the lights and fan.  Noooooo.  I specifically mentioned that I liked having a dimmer switch in the bathroom and that single switch wasn't going to work.  I also noticed that the electricians had not strung wiring for the single light fixture that will be in the central corner of the vanity. Troy, one of the supervisors, agreed and the electrician had to come back.

Troy and Kim with towel warmer
The plumber moved the piping for the shower.  The controls to turn on the water and set the temperature had been on the same wall as the shower head.  Since I'm losing the sliding door and replacing it with a swinging door, the controls needed to be moved to the opposite wall.

They needed to see just how big the towel warmer was so they could place the deadwood between the studs for bracing it, so Troy and Kim (the other supervisor) unpacked it.  They were surprised at how large and heavy it was.

In the background are two cabinets that were for my garage, still in packing.  I had two guys come help me organize my garage and attic while this other stuff was going on inside.  I worked alongside Jim and Steve in the garage and in the attic.  Luckily the weather was nice, not too hot but sunny enough to keep my solar attic fan running.

I've been taking pictures every day of the progress, but so far these are the only ones I've downloaded.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Short Cruise to Nassau

We just got back from a very short cruise to the Bahamas.  Den had a horrible first experience with a cruise 20 or so years ago so I wanted to show him that the ships have stabilizers now and it's a lot better.  Three days seemed survivable, so he agreed.

In the Polo Lounge
Well, Carnival's Sensation, apparently does NOT have great stabilizers!  Everyone was weaving from side to side the first night.  I didn't think the seas were all that rough, but the ship was rolling.  Luckily, Den got a patch before we sailed and he whipped that puppy on his neck within an hour of sailing.  It worked and he's no longer apprehensive about cruising.  YAY

The first day we walked around the ship.  Our room was mid-ship and it seemed like we were constantly turning the wrong way to get where we wanted to go.  And, of course, the elevators nearest our room didn't go all the way to the Lido deck where the food was.  We did eat reasonably the first day - Mongolian veggies and noodles for lunch and salad for dinner.  Sigh.  That was the last time.

Punchliner Comedy Club, Plaza Lounge
We enjoyed the comedy acts - Allyn Ball and Diane Ford.  They each performed one show that was suitable for all ages, including children, during the early evening, then gave adult only performances later.  Quite honestly, we enjoyed the early acts better.  When they warn you to leave if you're easily offended, they aren't kidding.  I can't say we were offended by Allyn Ball ... I just didn't think his style of humor which denigrated different cultures and people was particularly funny.

One surprise was how cold the indoor areas were.  The Plaza Lounge was freezing.  I was snuggled up to Den during the comedy acts for warmth.  I finally had to buy a sweater and carry a shawl to keep warm.

We decided to go on a shore excursion to swim with dolphins.  This took us to Atlantis, a first class resort.  A guide met us at the transport bus and led us through the casino which had some amazingly large glass sculptures.  Outside there were numerous pools with sharks and other fish as well as man-made beaches and some amazing slides.

When we finally got to Dolphin Cay, we changed into wet suits.  And let me tell you that was fun ... NOT.  Those things are tight!  However, the water was quite chilly and I was grateful for  the insulation.  Of course, we got used to it after a while but the wet suit certainly eased the transition.

Kissing Jill
Our group was small, only about 10, and Jill swam back and forth letting us pet her tummy and back.  Then she verrrrry patiently allowed each of us to kiss her and posed with us.  It's probably not healthy for the dolphins.  Sigh.  We rubbed her tail and fed her little fish.  It was a once in a lifetime experience.

After we changed back to our street clothes, we walked through The Dig.  It's a simulation of what they might have found if they'd found the real Atlantis.  Interspersed around are viewing areas for the amazing aquarium.  There were jelly fish, seahorses, manta rays, huge eels and some big fish that looked pre-historic.

Although we ate before the tour left the ship, we found we were really hungry so we stopped at a little bar near the casino and had the most amazing tuna sandwich and a Guinness.  I don't know if the tuna was spicy or the bread but it was delicious.  It was also nearly $12 for one sandwich.

The drive back to the ship took a while.  Traffic was bumper to bumper.  It gave us a chance to really see some of the old buildings in Nassau.

Captain's Party
We were exhausted when we got back to the ship but there was a Captain's Party in the Fantasy Lounge that evening and free drinks were available.  Plus we'd been assured there would be dancing from 7:00 to 8:00.  Oh yeah, there was dancing alright ... but we had to climb up on the stage to do it!!!  Bless Dennis's heart, we did a foxtrot and a cha-cha all alone up there.  Sadly we have no pictures of that.  But it was gratifying that at the end of the evening, when the "party" was over and the band was still playing, a lot of people seemed to stay and watch us dance even if they didn't join us.

Each day we started off with breakfast delivered to the room.  And until the last day, we also chose to use the stairs rather than the elevators.  However, by the last day, I confess, we were eating to capacity (and then some) and relying on the elevators.  Every once in a while one of us would just oink.

Dancing in Michelangelo's
On the last day at sea, we found Michelangelo's, a little lounge where nothing was happening during the day.  However, we could hear the music that was playing in the Mirage Bar around the corner.  At 5:00, the Sensational Showband played some Motown music and we danced ... all by ourselves.  It was fun.

A few grumbles here.  No hairdryers.  I was not happy to have bad hair days the whole time.  I needed a hairdryer!!!!  And the coffee was awful.  It was very strong and smelled of sewer water.  Den loves (craves) coffee but he couldn't add enough sugar or cream to make it palatable.  I cut it with half a mug of hot chocolate and half coffee.

At any rate, now Den is comfortable with cruising and overall, we had a wonderful time.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

January Trips

Total Wall booth
The week of January 17 was really busy.  There was a trade show in Orlando where Den's company, Total Wall, had a booth.  It was hosted by Sherwin Williams in the Dolphin Hotel at Disney World.  He travelled down there and back a couple of nights a week for dinner meetings before the show began and then stayed for one night.  I went with him on Monday night for the quick drive down and back.  Tuesday night it was all business, so I didn't go.

Me, Den, Vinnie, Mike
I decided to join him on Thursday night and figured since I was going to be right there at Epcot, I might as well have some fun.  So a girlfriend and I drove down early Thursday and spent the day at Epcot.  I've always loved those big drums and the Japanese section had a drumming group.  Luckily we were just in time to see them.  It was a very interesting but tiring.  Then she drove back to Ocala while I stayed with Den.

Japanese Drummers at Epcot
We went to dinner with all the salesmen but something in the air really aggravated my sinuses and we had to retire for the evening.  I just couldn't stop sneezing.  The next day I helped at the booth, asking if anyone had questions and then snagging a salesman for them.  I certainly couldn't answer any questions.  *grin*

The worst part of the trip was at the end.  Vinnie had supervised the unloading of the Total Wall booth but he forgot to take pictures so the parts could be packed correctly.  The salesmen had to pack everything up to be shipped back to Wisconsin and no one had any idea how they fit together in the styrofoam forms.  It got very uncomfortable with tempers rising so I just left.  I know it was rude not to say goodbye but I was afraid I was going to say the wrong thing to someone.

We got home at last but it was very late that night.  The trip was complicated by the entrance ramps to the Turnpike being blocked and we had to find another way.  Luckily Den has spent a lot of time in Orlando so he knew how to find another access ramp.  I was quite impressed by his cool control throughout this stressful day.

Den & Neal
The next morning we were off to Daytona Beach where his senior men's tennis team was in the State finals.  Den and Neal won their matches but the team came in second.  Although the team won more matches it apparently came down to who won more sets.  I don't understand it, but that's how it shook out.  We still had fun, even though it was freezing cold and windy.  I was very proud of Den.