Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Stink Bugs, Fire Ants, What Next?

We had another quiet day today after our lengthy bike ride yesterday...It was laundry day, ride around the neighborhood county roads and see if anything else shows up kind of day...Just the usual stink bugs..We're finding at least two to three a day inside the coach, and even in the car. Don't know if they hitched a ride from another state, but nobody else seems to have the numbers inside their coach like we do. Going to have to do an inspection of the bays and every nook and cranny I guess. (Uh, Sparky, you sure you want to do that? You know how much yarn that means moving around?) Little does he know, that's the LEAST of the stuff I have in every nook and cranny. We haven't even talked about jewelry supplies since I've been taking jewelry classes...(WHA-A-AT????????) Calm down, sweetie...it's not too bad, beads are tiny!

And then, fire ants showed up! Eldy was washing the coach and somehow stirred up an anthill, which looked very ordinary upon later inspection. But it turned out that these little teeny tiny red ants were fire ants, we think. They crawled up his shoe and around his sock and started biting. It hurt like heck! he said. Actually, his choice of words was a little stronger. Someone in the park said, wait till the next day and if little pustules show up, those were fire ants. Yep, they were! EWWWWWW!

And then, thank goodness!.... Happy Hour with our neighbors Ritchie and Nick. We always have a great time talking with them. They are so sweet and funny, you just love them the minute you meet them and start to talk with them. They are the kind of people who poke fun at themselves and not at someone else. They have been happily married for 44 years of marriage, and it definitely shows. They sometimes finish each other's conversations, and they laugh almost at the same moment at something the other one says. They both have twinkly eyes, so you know they are going to be fun to be around.....

I'm always tempted to ask people who have been married for a long time and HAPPILY married, what is their secret? Because I don't have a very good track record having been married twice before I met Eldy, and I'm determined to be successful in my senior years at having a successful, happy relationship. Eldy makes it a WHOLE lot easier than those other guys! So far, he and I have four wonderful years in, and we hope for a lot more....So I asked Nick and Ritchie, and they are making a list for me. Stay tuned on that one and we'll get back to you on that. If anybody else wants to give advice, Sparky is all ears!  Too bad cranes and swans can't talk, they mate for life!
And too bad these guys weren't turned around facing each other, it would have made a "heart" pair, and that would have been just too perfect for today's blog!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Bikin' It, Baby!

We decided to check out the General Van Fleet bike trail, a 29 mile paved trail that runs through some of Florida's most scenic rural landscape. It sounded great from reviews posted at the Rails to Trails Conservancy website....http://www.traillink.com/trail/general-james-a-van-fleet-state-trail.aspx

It looks like fall in Indiana, but it's Florida's dormant time
Alligators? I'm in! Wild boars? Cool!  Armadillos? YEAH! More wildlife? You bet! I didn't tell Eldy about the review that said they encountered poisonous snakes laying across the trail the two times they had ridden the trail, 'cuz I haven't gotten a good photo of a snake yet! (And you're not gonna, if I can help it! says Eldo, protectively.) Sigh!

About 1/3 of the trail crosses central Florida's 322, 690 acre Green Swamp, so wildlife viewing was supposed to be interesting, to say the least. We started at one end of the trail, at the Mabel Trailhead, about a 10 minute drive from the Florida Grande RV park where we are staying. There are restrooms at each end of the trail, but not in between as far as we know. The weather couldn't have been better, temps were in the 60's and although central Florida's trees are in the dormant stage, waiting to wake up for spring, there was still some shade to be found.

There are rest stops along the way, but no bathrooms. We did a short stretch today....It was short, because unfortunately, about 5.9 miles into the ride, a bridge was closed and we had to turn around. It was completely blocked off. Rats! (Whew! says E.)

Construction is due to continue through June, so it must be some major reconstruction of the bridge. We rode a total of 10 1/2 miles today, which was GREAT for the both of us, especially E.! This trail is a VERY flat, wide, paved straight trail, and we highly recommend it for anyone. Even if you don't see any wildlife.....sigh!

It wasn't the most interesting ride today, we didn't see any spectacular vistas, just lots and lots of sparsely populated, dried up forests of palms and skinny trees, and no water, but the sky was as blue as blue could be, there was a nice breeze, and we got some  much needed exercise.....It really was a beautiful day and a beautiful ride.....

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Florida Grande is for Wine-O's!

It's early in the evening, but they're already having fun!
And lots of other people with lots of other interests! Sparky just happens to love wine, and "audited" an "Attitude Adjustment Class" this evening which involved painting and drinking lots of wine, not necessarily in that order! (Sparky should have signed up, she LOVES wine!) People got dressed up in berets and painting smocks and had a great time following the instructions of their illustrious leader....

This is a class offered once a month by the Florida Grande RV Resort. Bring a bottle of your favorite wine, some hors d'oeuvres, and learn how to paint a cute painting offered by a knowledgeable instructor who has the patience of a saint to teach 12 participants who are imbibing as she instructs. Get involved with wine, a Name that Wine contest, Spit and Sip wine trivia, and find out little known wine facts as you paint your very own masterpiece!

If you are not into wine, there's always model building...Our next door neighbor, Nick, is helping Chuck build a rather large airplane....It's coming along nicely......
There's street golf, line dancing, yoga, Pilates, computer/photography class, sewing and quilting, a knit and crochet group, jewelry classes, a great pool, the usual cards in the evenings....never a dull moment at Florida Grande! We'll see you somewhere in the next few days...We're not sure where we'll be!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

It's an Ordinary Life, Really!

I was going to title this blog, "Blah Blog" but hey, decided to go with a more positive spin on a day where we did absolutely nothing but battle bugs, (the stink bugs are BA-A-A-C-K!) we are averaging 3-4 inside the rig daily since we got here, send Eldo to the grocery store so Sparky wouldn't spend so much money every time she goes, (even with a list! bemoans E.) contemplate a little yoga, (Sparky actually ATTENDED yoga today) and let's see what else did we do?....

Hm-m-m-m....A certain fella who shall remain nameless, helped us investigate a possible leak under the rig, which we all decided that we didn't have one after several opinions and positions were expressed.....

I can safely say without embarrassing anyone that in the photo below, that's Eldy looking for the leak.

Sparky went for her almost daily 6-7 mile bike ride and here's what she saw today....Her BUDDIES!

And a skeleton! Could it be....possibly.....an alligator?

And that was our day today....It's an ordinary life, really!

Friday, January 27, 2012

A MANLY Blog, Sorry Ladies!

This is all about the Cummins Engine/Generator RV chat that both Eldy and Sparky attended today....Geesh! LOTS of part numbers, specs, types of engines....BORING! But not to guys, judging by the number of questions about specific engine models on older coaches.

There was a big turnout for this discussion, around sixty people from Florida Grande showed up, all guys and one female besides that activity director. That would be Sparky! Eldo says he takes terrible notes so Sparky had to back him up. Three guys came into the RV park from Cummins, Ocala and Orlando service centers. They were Todd Whetzell, Bill Miller and Mike Martin. They gave an excellent  presentation first, complete with ticket drawings for free prizes interspersed throughout the lecture, then conducted a question and answer period after. There must have been a former teacher in the group! He had all the tricks for keeping everybody's attention. Sparky and Eldo did learn some stuff and thought we'd better share....Here are some things we agreed on and understood:

1.) Adding additives to your OIL is a NO-NO in the service people's handbook.

2.) Adding an extension tubing or spout to your generator tailpipe to vent it upward and to the top is a very bad idea and no extensions should be the rule. They told a very sad story of two coaches in a tight park where somebody on one coach had pipe venting the generator exhaust upward and the next door neighbor's AC sucked in the gases. The grandparents and their visiting grandchild died because the carbon monoxide detectors failed to register the amount of gases that came into the coach from the neighbor next door.

3.) Algae starts to grow in your fuel tank after about 28 days of sitting. Putting an additive in the FUEL tank IS recommended. Lucas Bio-Medic I believe is the name of the product they recommend. Adding an injector cleaner to the fuel tank is also ok, again, a Lucas product was recommended.

4.) They talked about using Cummins fuel and oil filters as preferable to using inexpensive ones and they had plenty of scientific and testing data to back that up. So much, that Sparky and Eldo are convinced that with an engine costing thousands and thousands of dollars powering your coach, why would you want to use a cheap filter to save a few bucks? They also mentioned that if a Cummins filter fails, it is 100% warranteed, so any engine damage is completely covered. No prorated losing of dollars, either!

5.) There is a Cummins club that you can sign up for online--it gives you a 10% discount on everything is our understanding...20.00 a year? We have to check that out, but there are some benefits to having this club membership that might be worth checking out. It's called the Power Club. (?)

6.) In 14 locations in Florida, Georgia and Chattanooga, TN, there are Cummins facilities that offer "Coach Care"...these service facilities have full hookups including water for motorcoaches to come in and stay comfortably while waiting for a service appointment or getting work done. Pet friendly, they said!

7.) Be careful of "Will fit Cummins engine, generator, etc." parts. They said something about you are out of luck if using these parts and it causes engine or generator damage.

8.) If you are a numbers guy, you should be concerned about torque not horsepower. Torque ratings are your pulling power. Whatever the heck that means, Sparky has no idea, although she sorta gets it. You better have great torque numbers to go over mountains! That's the ticket!

9.) There is a program called Quick Serve online, which is a web based program. There are different components to this program and different costs and options to signing up for different levels of service, at least that's what we understood from the presentation. Some of it was very confusing. Some part of this online service allows you to get a FREE 30 minute inspection of your engine if you sign up for the "Guardian" portion of it. This program is what the distributors refer to as well for parts, service, specs and everything Cummins sells. You need a service guide for fuel specifications? It's 47 pages online and you can get it there.

10.) You should keep your fuel tank FULL when sitting for long periods of time to reduce the amount of condensation that can develop in the tank. Use service stations that have a high turnover of fuel like Flying J, Pilot, etc. to avoid getting bad fuel and allowing algae spores to spread from their bad gas to your tank.

Sparky hung in there to the end, because she just HAD to find out how much we should be running the generator to keep it in tip top condition. She keeps telling Eldy that the generator needs to be exercised just like people do! (I know, I know. Sigh!) But he doesn't like to run it because you use diesel fuel when you do. Hey, folks, you people with diesel pushers, you need to be running your generators ONCE or TWICE a week for about an hour or two, at the minimum, according to the service guys! Do we do that? Heck, no! But Sparky is going to be on Eldo like a fly on flypaper after today's discussion group so we avoid problems later on with the generator. Why, the generator is running this very moment as we speak! Way to go, Eldo!

Time for a break from all this manly stuff....gotta go to jewelry class this afternoon and learn how to make earrings. Back to you gals tomorrow! Gotta mix this blog up a little now and then....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sparky and Eldo Win BIG!

Tonight was Florida Grande's annual shrimp scampi dinner and auction. Dinner was delicious! Florida Grande really knows how to put on a great tasting dinner for tons of people. Dinner was 6.00 a person for a great salad with tons of veggies and different greens in it, shrimp scampi or spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread. Even the cooks got into the spirit and dressed for the occasion!

Eldo bought an "arm's length" of auction tickets for 10.00 and we went around looking at all the donated items....terrific selection! Everything from handpainted and hand carved items, grill items, tire covers, gift certificate stays at other RV resorts, jewelry, purses, restaurant certificates, etc. Whatever you hoped to win, you put in your purchased auction tickets in a dish in front of the item, as many as you wanted to for each item. Eldy hoped for free golf rounds, so he threw in a couple of tickets, and Sparky, because she has Eldo's back, threw in a couple more when he wasn't looking.

AND WE WON! Four rounds of golf at a really nice golf course in the area!

AND WE WON AGAIN! Sparky won a hand crafted quilted purse...another tote for her knitting projects....(sigh! Whatever makes her happy!) I'm happy, Eldo's happy! We're happy campers!
We had a great time with lots of laughter...our neighbors, Ritchie and Nick were at our table keeping us in stitches, along with some new friends that we have met since our stay here. We'll have to get a photo of Ritchie and Nick, they are great people! There are so many great people here at Florida Grande, we are really enjoying our stay and the friendliness of the park. It's the best!  See you tomorrow at the RV chat......

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sparky Goes To School!

I've been waiting three weeks to get approval to go volunteer at the school, and the word came through...."You are good to go at the Webster Elementary School. You start tomorrow." Yay! If you are hoping for photos of the little darlings I got to work with today, there aren't any because of much more strict privacy laws about taking children's photos today. The best I can do is a photo of the front entrance where the school is undergoing some construction. It's a much older building, so I was sorry to hear it's for administrative offices and not improvements to the individual classrooms.

I am assigned to a group of very young children with special needs, around the age of four and five or so. They are in a pre-kindergarten class, but below ability level for their age and have been identified as having special needs. There was an autistic child in the group, some behaviorally disordered kids, and some very emotionally immature children. These are the same kinds of kids I worked with in middle school my last seven years only they had bigger bodies! I was excited to be able to spend some time with much younger kids, as that is one of my favorite age groups and I was curious what their developmental stages were at this age.

I worked from 8:15 today until 11:15, and by the time I was done, I was exhausted! I originally planned to work two days a week, but decided once a week for three hours is probably all I can handle....Here's how it went...names have been changed to protect the kids' privacy....We started out with breakfast. Two kids cried because they got "hit" in line, one refused to eat anything at all, and it took three adults to keep them in line without hitting each other and running all over the place. We simply had to walk to the lunchroom, eat and head back to their classroom to start their day, no small feat. I did my best to engage them and teach them SOMETHING!

"OK, everyone, let's work on the letter K today...What letter is this? K...Everybody repeat after me--K. Let's make a big K in the air! Watch me, Billy. Get out from under the table, Billy. Get back in your chair please. Johnny, we don't hit each other, keep your hands to yourself. Now if everybody can sit their butts in their chairs and look ready to learn, you can get a sticker! You don't want a sticker, Mary? You don't want it on your hand? Don't cry, it will be ok...Bobby, you can't hit Billy, that's not nice. Let's make a kicking K! Let's make the kicking K on your paper, don't kick your neighbor. (Bad choice of words, Sparky!) Don't I know it!

I proceeded for the next half hour to attempt to get the kids to trace the letter K, to stop crawling under the table, to get them to listen and talk about things that start with K, to play a guessing game which only one student participated, tried to get them to trace their names and the others either hit each other, scribbled on the table and not on their papers, got up and ran around the room, or crawled under the table multiple times. Not to mention the number of times everybody had to pee and I had to check to make sure they didn't get lost in the bathroom or forget to come out.

Luckily, a break came about half way through and we went outside for recess. They did not play well together, but some of the boys bonded with me as I helped them make their way swinging across the rings. That was something new for them. "My turn, MY TURN!"  Back into the classroom we went. You know you are making progress at making a connection with the kids when one of them sitting right next to me says, "You stink!" I said, "Yep, that's what happens when you go outside and play when it's hot and you come back in. Next time I'll have to remember to put on deodorant!" (You REALLY didn't say that, did you? asks an incredulous E.) Yep, I did! I don't think the little guy knew what I was meant about deodorant because he told me two more times, "you stink!" At the end of my helping session, I was ready to leave, the teacher said to the kids to "say goodbye to Miss Jeannie" and one of the orneriest boys planted himself in front of the exit door and wailed, "NO-O-O-O-O! YOU CAN'T GO!"

I thought about all the different ways I could possibly do this differently next time on my way home. Never having taught preschoolers, I thought about ways to get them more physically moving in a GOOD way, about rhymes and other things to learn their ABC's and how I might be able to get them to pay attention. Developmentally, most of them are not ready for the letters. Developmentally, most of them are not ready for school, period! The teacher knows that, but she is trying to get them ready for kindergarten, that's her job and these kids are WAY behind already. You just have to jump in, do a lot of praying, work your butt off, and hope you can get through to some of the kids. She doesn't even get a lunch with the other teachers because she doesn't have someone to come in and take her place with the eight kids. Even with a program assistant, there's not enough hands to keep the little ones' hands off each other.

Today was an eye opener and a reminder of why I retired from special education at the age of 60 instead of waiting longer....I was ready, after 34 years of always working with special education kids, to retire. I read somewhere that the average burnout rate for special ed teachers is at about 7 years, so I look back and feel pretty proud that I lasted that long!  But I'm not finished with education, I still hope to work in the classroom when I can. I admire anybody who goes into the field of education today, it's a tremendous challenge and an arduous task to educate kids coming into a "regular" classroom with a much more wider ability, IQ range and LOTS more problems. I salute my teacher friends who are still working hard to make things right in an educational system that needs an extensive overhaul and reworking to reflect modern society. The teachers that I know are really trying, folks! They really are!

I'll be back next week at Webster Elementary, and I'll be sure I've put on deodorant next time!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Flea Market Day 2

This was Sparky's second trip to the Webster flea market. Eldo headed there last Monday while Sparky was in Detroit but kept on driving by because it was so crowded. If you don't get there by about 8:00 or 8:30 AM, you are going to have a dickens of a time trying to crawl down highway 471 to get to the market to find a parking space and it is tough to walk around without bumping into people, it's so congested.

This place is HUGE! We never made it through all the aisles from the last time, so this time we went looking again to see what bargains we couldn't live without....we've got our eye on fit-over-glasses sunglasses that cost 20.00 at Walmart. You can get them here at the Webster Flea Market for 10.00 for one pair, or two for 20.00. We're going to get those the next time.....

How about some alligator HEADS? Just the heads, mind you.....Hm-m-m-m...what would you use those for, I wonder? I got it! Stick one in the dirt by the front gate of your Florida residence and put up a sign..."BEWARE OF THE ALLIGATOR!"

Not interested in the alligator heads? How about these fake cockroaches???? They looked REAL with one sitting outside the box for display. I'll bet someone buys one of these and sticks it in their fast food meal to try and get some money out of the deal. That ruse wouldn't last a second if somebody had the nerve to pick it up! (Sparky hates bugs and snakes even if they are fake! explains E.)

Sparky looked for beads to make jewelry with but at 1.00 a bead in this particular booth, that was a little too pricey! The vendor was insulted when I asked if they had any cheaper ones.....Guess these beads are used for making a Pandora look alike charm bracelet and were very fair prices according to the seller. There are a LOT of jewelry sellers at the flea market....

And let's not forget our furry friends.....And if you don't have a dog, you can buy one at the flea market--all kinds of miniature ones I hadn't heard of....

And then sox.....and more sox in a box......
Here's a booth that Sparky had a hard time tearing herself away from after buying the Salsa Express Deluxe Edition last week--IT SLICES, IT DICES, IT JULIENNES, IT MAKES SALSA IN SECONDS! It was a booth containing nothing but products AS SEEN ON TV. Sparky just had to pour over each item and check it out. Had there been any more demonstrations inside the booth, she probably would have walked out of there with a couple more razzle dazzle, cheaply made in China products..(C'mon, Sparky, let's move on to another booth, cajoles E. Whew! I thought I'd never get her outta there!)

By the way, the Salsa Express model was called something else this week and it was selling for two dollars more than last week. I KNEW it was a great bargain, and yes, Sparky has used it and it works great! Salsa in a minute, no joke! Throw in a half onion, a couple cloves of garlic, a couple of tomatoes, a half a green pepper, a squirt of lime juice, and turn the handle--VOILA! Salsa! Are you SURE there isn't something else in this booth we can't live without????  (YEP! I'm sure!)

There are all kinds of people that come from all over the state to the flea market....some farther than others.....This lady was speaking in a language I did not recognize.....Maybe Swahili, I'm just guessing, but I wondered where she was from to be here in tiny Webster, Fl at the flea market. Actually, this is a small international flea market--- there are Vietnamese, Asian, Hispanic, Cuban,  and other vendors here along with a smattering of buyers of different nationalities as well, lots of different languages heard today.....It's a very cool place to be and we're lucky able to visit one of Florida's largest flea markets every Monday if we desire to come....We'll be back next Monday! Sparky's got to check out that TV booth again....(Uh, Sparky, I think we have plans next Monday, reminds E.) We'll see.......

Monday, January 23, 2012


Bet THAT got your attention!  No-o-o-o-o, SPONGE DOCKS--We're talking about a road trip to Tarpon Springs, home of the sponge docks!...Gotta love it that Eldy loves to drive....off to Tarpon Springs today..about an hour and a half drive from Webster. We had heard it was a cute little town, a Greek town with lots of history. It's home to the Greek ancestors of the sponge divers who came from the Mediterranean Sea back in the late 1800's.

There are LOTS of Greeks still living in Tarpon Springs...and where there are Greeks, there are gyros and spanakopita, and souvlaki and lots of other good stuff to eat. And where there's Greek food, there's Sparky! And Eldo, who doesn't quite share the same enthusiasm for Greek food that Sparky does. But that's ok, he enjoys watching her enjoy eating it!

We took to walking up and down the docks and looking at the ships...boats....vessels...whatever the correct term is that you call them as they go out and come back loaded with sponges. We couldn't help but wonder whether most of the world's sponges are artificially man made now, and if these boats were for tourist show.
But somewhere we read that two millions dollars pours into the Tarpon Springs economy each year from the harvesting of sponges, so they are still trying to stay in business to make money.  It's got to be a dicey struggle to make a living as a sponge diver with red tide affecting the sponge beds, pollution and other man made ills and competing with cheaply made artificial sponges.

There's a little free museum there, but we didn't go in it. We DID go in a Greek bakery, and managed to come back out with ZERO delectable delights. It was hard, but Sparky was able to resist temptation, despite all the wonderful offerings in the showcase. However, Sparky was NOT able to resist an original gyros (spit roasted lamb shavings on a piece of fresh pita bread with tomatoes, tons of onions, garlic and lots of cucumber sauce) from a Greek restaurant that had been in business for 46 years. Unfortunately, the gyros wasn't as good as a King Gyros sandwich back home in Mishawaka, IN! Phooey!

The main street with all the little tourist shops is quite short and there isn't much to the town, so once you've traversed both sides of the street, you are done! There's a great handmade soap shop called GetaGuru and Sparky fell in love with some of the soaps so she bought a sampler set to take home for 5.00. They have an online store, too. Sparky got caught up in the soap store's "eye candy" store front, it was a REALLY bright fuschia, so she just HAD to go inside....
There's even a little aquarium in town, but we didn't check it out..we were just happy to browse the store fronts and the docks.....

If you wanted to buy sponges right at the docks you could....

And here's a new use for some really big sponges...I thought this was a GREAT idea! Stick your potted plant in a big one and it sops up the excess water....

We enjoyed our visit to Tarpon Springs today, but we didn't see Sponge Bob!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dancin' in the Streets!

Off to the Villages after my scarf class to visit the Quilting and Fiber Arts Marketplace Event  today....a "One Stop Shop Hop"...I saw that on a flyer I picked up at a local knitting store, and I knew I had to go...and Eldy said...."Uh-oh!" But he never said another word...I expected him to say, "Is it about more yarn?"   "Are you going to be needing any more cabinets? Because, honey, we ain't got no stinkin' cabinets left!" I was HOPING he'd say, "Do you need any money?" Ha, ha...not really....we keep our hobbies monetarily separate. Which is a good thing or we'd both be broke! (Me? Hobby? What hobby? You've got all the hobbies for you, me, and twenty other people! E. laughs.) He's still laughing, that's good. He knows if I'm crafting, I'm a happy camper, unless I don't have something I need to make a project so we gotta make a Michael's run....(Or a Joann Fabrics run, or a Hobby Lobby run..SIGH!) He just cheerfully drives me and plays on his iphone while I'm in the store, and he EVEN says, "Take your time, don't rush, no hurry...I'll be fine!" Wow, what a guy! He'll even turn around if we miss a craft store while driving, if I need him to. That's one of the many reasons why I love him so much!

Grannie Suzannie Designs, Palm Coast, FL
The fiber arts show was very cool. Most of it was all about fabric and quilting....Fortunately, AT THIS TIME, I am not into fabric...(Which is good, because she has a storage shed full of tubs of heavy fabric yardage back in Indiana!) But I did see lots of cool stuff that really interested me...sewing, felting, knitting, weaving, spinning, needlework, embellishment supplies, and there were demos on a lot of different stuff. (Yeah, STUFF! I'll never understand why she needs all that STUFF! says E.) This particular shop, above, was kind enough to let me take their photo after hearing all about our RVing story...

When I came out of the quilt show, a record 45 minutes later--a record for in and out of a fabric place, I saw all these ladies in red shirts with the words "Cheerleader" on the back. I asked them to pose for a picture after learning that they support lots of charities, that they are the "boosters" and pom-pom ladies and have dance routines they do at lots of events all over town. I wanted to take a photo of all of them turned around with their backsides facing so you could see the cheerleader name across their backs, but for some reason, they resisted that idea!

Town Square at Lake Sumter Landing at the Villages
The quilt show was at the Savannah Entertainment Center in the Villages. The Villages are a senior community made up of several sub communities that are fascinating and interesting and cool places to visit. We are really enjoying exploring the Villages that is a rapidly growing community fast becoming a city with a population of 80,000 thereabouts. This is a place where you could conceivably live full time, and never have to leave the community to shop anywhere else. Every possible store you could wish for is in the Villages--top name brand shops, sporting goods stores, groceries, clothing, etc. You can attend classes, take lessons of a bazillion different subject matters, bike everywhere or ride a golf cart everywhere you need to go. Medical facilities are available for every age related ailment you could think of.  The recreation facilities and activities beat any big college campus any day. There's even polo at the Villages! Golf courses abound everywhere, tons of them! You almost see more golf carts riding around town than you do cars!

(Hey, Sparky, what about dancin' in the streets?) Oh, sorry, I forgot....I just get really excited looking and talking about the cool stuff at the Villages...the town squares (there's two at the moment) have outdoor entertainment 365 days a year! So we stopped off at the Lake Sumter Town Square and heard a GREAT duo playing and singing. And they really got everybody moving and dancing. The dance area is HUGE around the gazebo where they play. These little girls were adorable! One of the sisters must have had dance lessons...she had LOTS of ballerina moves with lots of expressive hand movements....

The exuberance of youngsters is always a delight to see....What we like about the Villages is it is not exclusively all seniors...There are lots of visitors who can come into the Villages and shop and eat and enjoy the entertainment. All that is completely accessible to visitors. The residences are for seniors and that part is gated. We really like that there is very much a family atmosphere in the Villages with visitors and family alike....Here's a grandpa with his granddaughter really enjoying himself, and she is, too!
Finally, Sparky couldn't resist the great line dancing music and the singers belting out some rockin' tunes, so she got up to dance...(Eldo doesn't do line dancing)  Heh, heh, for now, anyway....

Wonderful weather, wonderful day in  The Villages, down here in sunny, warm Florida......

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Well, How Did Scarf Class Go, Sparky?

I was ready...I was REALLY ready...I had the glam and the glitter and the candy out on the table. In come the gals, one by one...oohing and ah-h-h-ing over the cute little bags with the hand knitted key rings tied to the handles. I really had them in my pocket with the chocolate candies...If all else failed, I had M & M candy (my favorite!)  for myself to bolster my confidence. The first table was a rowdy bunch and one of the gals gave me a warning, "You're going to have trouble with this bunch! We all know each other!" I replied, "Ladies, I taught special ed. for 34 years, I can work with anybody!" They laughed.  Time to start, ladies!

I breezed into my yarn spiel---what kind to buy, what the yarns looked like, prices....I had their rapt attention. I wowed them with my reference sheet giving all kinds of resources, names, prices, help sites and where to get the yarn. Time to get down to the knitty gritty....tee hee hee......I found out later by word of mouth after all the gals had signed up that there were two ladies that did not know how to knit. The teacher in me says, I can handle that. I'll get the other gals going and work with the two who didn't know how to knit. I thought it was possible we could be able to work through that and get them going on a scarf. BUT--just to be on the safe side, I thought I'd better ask....

"How many of you do NOT know how to knit?" I knew there were two. This, despite the first notice that went out for the class that stated you needed to know how to do the basic knit stitch. The second reminder notice failed to mention that, so TWO MORE SLIPPED THROUGH THE CRACKS, and I had FOUR NON-KNITTERS on my hands....I took a deep breath and plunged in with the first gal.

I was giving her my best memory strategies for learning the very basic knit stitch..."Make a teepee with your needles. Now go under the fence, catch the sheep, back we come, off we leap...." She's looking at me blankly, doing everything what appeared to be backwards and then she says, "But I'm a lefty"..The stunned look on my face must have been quite the look because at that moment, the entire table broke out laughing! To make matters worse, I said, "Oh, CRAP! " And everybody laughed again. To add to my difficulties, out of the four non-knitters, there was a second lefty in the bunch! And now, I panicked. I tried switching my hands and showing them how to do it left handed, but I couldn't figure out how that would look! And I always thought I was ambidextrous! (I used to practice writing with my left hand all the time when I was in grade school in case I broke my right arm.)

New strategy....get the gals started who DID know how to knit......They got going...The ladies came to my rescue. Good group dynamics today, they started helping each other while I was working with individuals...One of them kindly took one non-knitter aside and got her some basic yarn and needles and taught her the basic knit stitch. I worked with three of the other non-knitters...With encouragement from me and their tablemates on each side of them, two of them managed to learn the knit stitch AND get a scarf going. The third one gave up, but she was really really nice about it while I was apologized profusely. I felt very badly that she gave up.  But I told the class at the beginning, if there was anybody who couldn't figure it out today, I would finish the scarf for them....I've got two scarves to do....No problem...I'm on it!

It was fun despite a little nerve wracking...I learned a few things today. First, the communication between myself and the front office should have been a little better on my part....I neglected to put the the reminder on the signup sheet that you needed to know how to do the knit stitch. It did say "KNITTED Ruffle Scarf Class" but I had been talking it up as "It's EASY!" so I convinced a lot of people! Gee, I should sell cars! Second, people really enjoyed the class even if it was hard for some of them. Third, it was great to hear people say as they walked out, "That was really fun! This was the best class I have taken at Florida Grande." (From a non-knitter, natch!) But even one of the non-knitters really enjoyed herself today, she told me she really loved her scarf and was so happy to learn how to do it, so I was glad I worked hard to make it a fun environment. They got something to take home with them even if they didn't finish their scarf, (a free gift bag and a cute key ring for themselves or a grandchild), and there was leftover chocolate for me to take home! My stress level wasn't too bad if there was leftover candy! (Did you say leftover chocolate???  Where is it? Did you save some for me? ) Guess who that was!?

I'd teach a class again in a heartbeat! (Folks, this is coming from Sparky, who was a nervous wreck, wound up higher than a kite, and whose stress level was through the ceiling getting ready for the class for the past two days! explains E.) Naw, that's part of a teacher's makeup...nervous excitement for a new class and wanting everybody to get something out of it, no matter what their learning level is....I loved it!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Countdown to Class!

It's tomorrow, "How to Make a Ruffled Scarf"....10:00 AM....The teacher in me has been rather anal about preparation and worrying about everybody getting their money's worth! I wasn't sure what to charge, so I've bent over backwards to make sure that nobody will be disappointed at what they get for signing up for the lesson, at least I hope not!

I bought little metallic gift bags at the dollar store, .50 each,  that will hold each person's yarn, two sets of directions for two different types of ruffly scarves, and NOTE: CHOCOLATE CANDY for the table...(Just about every teacher's workshop I ever attended always had a little candy dish with assorted chocolate for snacking) and here's why: 1.) This will stave off the possible underlying comments which all students say sooner or later--"I can't believe I paid XX.XX dollars for this class," 2) If they get bored, they can eat, 3) the gift bag is reusable, I didn't even write their name on the gift tag, 4) I attached a little knitted key fob/key ringy thingy as a little gift for signing up for the class. (I'm not sure she's going to make any money on this deal! says E.)  Yes, I will, a little....But I feel better having done the little extras to make everybody happy, which I know, I know, that's an unrealistic expectation...But hey, it made me feel good to get these ready for everyone! I'm in my element when I'm making craft stuff! (THAT'S the understatement for the year! exclaims E.) I think they're going to enjoy the class....I'm up to ten people now, who have signed up for the class, and they are all coming...And some don't know how to knit...This could get interesting!

My apologies for having a "girly" blog today....That's for G. M. who said I should do a more manly blog sometimes...not sure what THAT looks like, but Eldy's working on coming up with some topics...Aren't you, honey? (AHEM! Cough! Cough! Uh.....working on it, R-I-I-I-G-H-T!) Eldy says, stay tuned next Friday to find out about the Cummins RV chat. There! A manly topic!  But ya gotta wait a week!  Bye for now......