Monday, September 28, 2009

Our Last Day- Includes Katie Bells

It's hard to believe that today is our last day at The Vilalges. Time certainly does fly by! For Rich, the day started off like any other day here, up at 6:00, coffee on the front porch, off to the pickleball courts. He started at Pimlico and ended his final day of pickleball at La Hacienda. Since we first arrived, Rich has heard from more than one player the story of "Charlie" and how he made sure that pickleball continued to flourish in this community. That was 23 years ago........Today Charlie is over 80 years old. How ironic - our first week here, we both met some of the original Villages players. The last day here - Rich meets Charlie, the guy who made it happen.

Me - I spent the day doing some final cleaning at the Villa, did the laudry and started packing things up so we can get an early start in the morning.

Tonight - we're off to dinner with friends, Mo and Jeanne. If you remember, I said when we first arrived here that before we left we wanted to eat at Katie Bells........ It was really worth waiting for.

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We headed for the Square at Spanish Springs to meet Mo and Jeanne. It's not hard to tell that many of the snow birds are returning. Tonight was Market night at the square and by just after 5:00 the square was filling with cars, and golf carts, and lots of people. The music was playing, people were dancing and the vendors were ready for business.

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And then we arrived at Katie Bells. Mo and Jeanne were just a few minutes behind us. Before entering, you are checked at the door for you resident pass. As we entered the building the first show of the evening had already begun, the lights were dimmed, the entertainment on stage. The floor level was nearly full with patrons enjoying their meals. Mo and Jeanne led us up the stairs to the second level, where the tables line the balcony so diners can enjoy the show while eating. There is a small lounge to enjoy a drink while waiting for a table or for an after dinner drink. The atmosphere was wonderful - the entertainment fabulous. While dining we enjoyed songs from the Grand Ole Opry, then a little Roy Orbeson, Neil Diamond, Sonny and Cher,.......... Elton John- I think you get the picture.
Dinner was delicious - Rich and Mo went for the Prime Rib, Jeanne for the Orange Roughy, and I had Shrimp and Scallops over Linguini. Dinner included an great soup and salad bar with a great assortment of breads. We had already made plans to go for ice cream after dinner - but that didn't stop Rich and Jeanne from having their free dessert - yes dessert came with dinner. So both of them had their chocolate cake before we left. On the way out, we stopped at the stair landing for a minute or so to take in the happening on the stage. And by this time the dance floor was full!
The night ended at Ollies - for ice cream. After the cake, Jeanne could only manage an Ollie Bar! Rich? Well the cake didn't put a damper on his dessert. Sundae with chocolate and peanut butter topping.
Our final treat was spending the evening with Mo and Jeanne. We have truly enjoyed the time we've been able to spend with them and through our numerous conversations we 've all gotten to know a lot more about each other. We will surely miss them both.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A Visit from Gary Ball, and Dinner with Greenie and Kathy

Last week it was the mixed doubles partner visiting for a few days. This week, on Wednesday, Rich's doubles partner, Gary Ball, drove up to get in a little competitive play here at The Villages.

Gary met Rich at the Lake Miona Rec Center before 7:30, where they played and played, and played until nearly 11:30. Soaking wet and dripping from head to toe, they both entered the house quickly and made their way immediately to the showers!!

After several cold drinks and a lunch, they relaxed for a few minutes - continuing to dissect each game they played that morning. By 1:00 they were gone again, heading this time for El Santiago to meet up with the LaHacienda players.

By about 2:30, and once again carrying about 10 extra pounds of wet clothing - they arrived back at the house. Back to the showers and more cold drinks.......Relax a little bit..........and then Gary left for his drive back to Sun City Center. They got in a lot of good play.
See you at the Tampa Bay Games - Gary - and surely in Sun City Center this winter.

The next day was back to the dermatologist for me - yes the thumb is finally healing. Two more weeks or so of the medication was recommeded. Finally!

Later that day we were meeting Greenie and Kathy for dinner. We wanted to get together with them once more before we left.

So we headed back down to the Spanish Springs town square. We thought about taking the golf cart, bacause it wasn't that far, but it had been raining on and off during the day, so we opted for the car. As we pulled into the square the people were starting to gather around the center where the music for the evening was already underway, and people were out dancing. It wasn't a big crowd, but you would have thought that half the community was there, as we tried to find a parking spot. Can't imagine this place in the winter when all the snow-birds are back.

Tonight we were dining at Toojays. "TOOJAY'S GOURMET DELI began as a modest New York style delicatessen on the Island of Palm Beach in the spring of 1981. Originators Jay Brown and Mark Jay Katzenberg used the common portion of both of their names to derive the moniker TooJay's Gourmet Deli. Over the years, we have garnered over fifty Reader's Choice "Best Of" awards and pride ourselves on quality, presentation, and friendly service in a casual and lively atmosphere. TooJay's 27 restaurants are open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, dinner, to-go, delivery and catering."

You have to pass this fabulous deli display on your way to the dining area. Even more than what you see in your typical NY Deli. At the far end - which I wish I had taken a picture of- was a fresh piece of Salmon - that had to be about 2 ft long! Amazing

And what gormet deli doesn't have an array of delicious desserts. Everything imaginable - brownies, cookies, muffins and yes.......even chocolate eclairs! Believe it or not - dinner was so good and so filling, that we all passed dessert. The menu is so great that they give you TWO! One is their signature salads, deli sandwitches, burgers, soups......and the other is your dinner menu complete with your favorite 'comfort foods.". Kathy and Rich enjoyed the homemade post roast with mushroom gravy - Greenie opted for the Shepherds Pie, and I had the stuffed Chicken Breast. They serve the very best rye bread with dinner. All the plates were clean when the waitress removed them from the table.

Outside - it was tough saying goodbye. One last picture in front of the restaurant. We have so much enjoyed meeting Kathy and enjoying the company of both of them during our visit. We all promised to stay in touch. Greenie and Kathy promised to stop by and see us whenever in the area, and we will definately touch base with them this winter when we stop in Clermont. Thanks guys............for the great time. We'll miss you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Pat and Suzi - out in Washington

Got an e-mail and lots of pictures today from Pat and Suzi Zwolenski ( Wearing the USAPA Shirts).

Pat and Suzi play with our Meadow Pointe Pickleball group at home, but spend their winters out in Bellingham, WA with their son and family. After learning how to play with our group, they bought extra paddles and balls and started pickleball on the courts in their Washington community.

They will be heading back to Florida on Sunday, arriving around October 15th. So this group got together to play recently, and then Pat and Suzi had them over to their house for a steak dinner.
Sure looks like you are having a great time - but it will be nice to have you back playing with the group again. Have a safe trip home.

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Monday, September 21, 2009

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Today friends Charlotte Gonet, and Travis Weaver came over to visit and to play a few games of pickleball. I can't believe I didn't get any pictures on the court!! I had it with me in my pickelball bag - but the thrill of the game just took over!!

They arrived at the house just a little past 7:00 this morning all ready to head for the courts. We had planned on going to a couple of places but we stopped at Pimlico first and spent the whole morning there. There were only about six of us to start, but within about 10 minutes all eight courts were full - and within an hour all eight courts were full and about 10 people were waiting to play. Mo stopped in to meet them both, curious to meet the guy who taught us to play the game.........and thanked Travis when he left for introducing us to the game.

We all played hard and were just about the last ones to leave the courts. Exhausted and hungry we loaded the car and headed back to the Villa. Sandwiches, Salad and a glas of wine hit the spot. Wished they could have stayed longer - but back in TT Orlando - Baxter would be waiting for his dad! We'll see Travis again in less than two weeks down in Wauchula - and Charlotte again this winter in Orlando. Time for a shower and a NAP!! Actually - Rich already beat me to it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

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Since we've been here, I have not had my camera to get some good shots of the Rec Centers. There are small recreation centers like Churchill, Bacall, Pimlico and then there are what they call Regional Rec Centers. There are may six or seven Regionals. The other day I had to go to the Savannah Center to get the guest pass for Linda and thought that the building, inside and out was pretty special and the grounds are beautiful and so well manicured. I went back there this morning to get guest passes for Charlotte and Travis - who are coming over to play some pickleball in the morning. While there I took these pictures.

Hope I can get some good pictures of Travis and Charlotte tomorrow!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Friends keeping in touch!

It was great to hear from Nancy (Fair) and Jeff Blackburn ..............We met this couple in Tanglewood, down in Sebring, Fl last winter. Both of them are avid tennis players, but converted to the pickleball courts last year. Jeff - who also loves his motorcycles - made sure Nancy got a new one this summer!!
Acccompanying this picture was a note from Nancy - "The last weekend of August we were at the Indidanapolis 500 serving as flag marshalls for the Moto GP races! "

You're looking great guys - See you this winter!!

Dining Out with Friends

YES! Finally, the weather cooperated and we made it to Gator Joes. Six of us were supposed to be here a couple of weeks ago - but we cancelled because of rain. What a great decision, because we never would have enjoyed the evening any where near as much as we did last night. Two more joined the group - Linda Kramer - since she's still here visiting, and Phil Griell, who is a friend of Greenie and Kathy's. Phil recently moved from Michigan to Florida and bought a home in The Villages.

Since Greenie and Kathy were the only ones who knew how to get to the restaurnat, we all met at the El Santiago Rec Center. Mo and Jeanne left their car - Jeannie came with us - Mo went with Greenie and we headed out. It was about a 30 minute drive to Ocklawaha, in Marion County. How different from The Villages, and the larger Florida cities - what a beautiful ride it was through the country roads of Marion County. How quickly we forget how beautiful it really is here.

This is Gator Joe's . Located down a small side street in a rural area - we wondered how anybody found this place - or even heard of it. Even as we approached the restaurant we weren't quite sure what to expect. Gator Joes is a Key West style waterfront restaurant that was established back in 1926 on the water's edge of Lake Weir in Marion County. Gator Joe was a 15ft 7in alligator that lived in Lake Weir in the 1900's.

We went inside; it was early so we had our choice of places to sit. Mo started heading near the back to the windows, but we quickly saw that if we continued on out the back door we could check out the outside dining area.

Out the door and down the dock - Here's Phil and Rich and Greenie working their way to the end of the T shaped dock and the tables. The menu's were on the table. Most of us ordered the combination baskets, where you had your choice or combination of shrimp, fish, frogs legs, gator clams and/or oysters.
Kathy, Greenie and Phil enjoying their beverage and waiting for dinner to arrive.

Linda, Jeanne, Mo, (me - well - that's my chair - I'm taking the picture) and Rich. I think all of us are discussing our pleasure at how nice the place turned out to be. The atmosphere was great, the view of the lake was beautiful, there was a pleasant breeze and we were with friends. Of course - we still hadn't had our meal.

Here's a view of Lake Weir from our table.

The food got a thumbs up from all of us. And after sitting and chatting for a while we all headed back to the cars. Well almost all of us........ Where is Linda and Jeannie? Looking back, they had stopped to peer over the edge of the dock. Was it the Blue Herron or the ducks swimmg along the shore's edge?

Actually - Greenie had grabbed my camera earlier in the evening and took this picture of the Blue Herron for me.
And as we headed back to the vehicles - we caught the ducks playing on both sides of the dock.

Now here is a picture of Gator Joes foot that we saw hanging on the wall as we headed out. You need to know the story of Gator Joe. "Joe caught his fame from the Ma Barker gang who tried to kill him on several occasions; but, Joe ultimately got them instead. His local legend led the FBI to the Barker hideout on January 16th, 1935 and after a 4-hour gun battle the Barker gang all lay dead. In 1952 Joe crossed paths with a local gator hunter named Vic Skidmore. Since then, Joe's foot has had many homes throughout Florida and even Kentucky. It was donated to Gator Joes from one of Vic's friends, Mr. Jim Townlee.

So where do we go from here? This is located on the walkway just before getting to the parking area. Key West sounded good - but it's only 12 miles to The Villages - so we took that route. We were following Greenie as he made a turn near the Mulberry Rec Center on the way home. Jeanne was sure Mo - who was riding with Greenie- had something to do with the left hand turn we made into Brewsters Ice Cream. Ice Cream? We were still full from dinner. Even Rich couldn't find room after finishing his meal and part of mine! But Greenie and Kathy still found room. Grennie came back with a turtle sundae and two spoons and the two of them smiled and shared their ice cream treat.
But there was no sharing with Mo and Jeanne. Mo enjoyed is Banana Milk Shake. And Jeanne ! Are you really going to eat that huge hot fudge sundae all by yourself? She claims she asked for a small...........

And that folks - was dinner with friends at Gator Joes. We were glad that Linda was here to enjoy the evening with us, and we so much enjoyed meeting Phil. Not sure if we would see Jeannie and Mo or Kathy and Greenie again before we left The Villages, we hugged and promised to keep in touch.

Linda and Rich and I opened a bottle of Merlot and shared a glass of wine back at the house, and then called it a day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Linda K meets TV (The Villages)

On Tuesday, Linda Kramer, who is Rich's mixed doubles partner arrived for a short visit. Obviously - our primary objective was to make sure Linda got to play pickleball as much and as often as she wanted, and then to show her around the area, feed her well, have a little wine, introduce her to some new people - you know - make sure she had an enjoyable stay.

She arrived before noon - and by 1:00, she and Rich headed for El Santiago where they enjoyed a few good hours of fun and competitive play. When they returned, I had to laugh - Linda looked like she had just stepped out of the shower! The light blue shirt had turned to midnight blue! She'll kill me for sharing this photo but.....

Having shed the wet clothes - it was time to wet the wistle with a cold brew. Both she and Rich grabbed a Bud Light and headed for the front porch - to relax and wind down.

We had an early dinner - I had made some stuffed shells with meatballs and sausage, along with a Ceaser Salad and warm bread - so we ate in that night.

Linda and I headed out after dinner for a tour of TV - stopping first at Spanish Springs Town Center. There was a very slight sprinke of rain so the crowd was not real big, but enough to make us park a little distance from the center. Then we headed down Morse Blvd for Sumter Landing Town Center. By this time, what little sprinke there had been, had stopped, and their was definately a bigger crowd around the square, enjoying the music and dancing. It was market night at the Square - so all the vedors had their tables out. We headed back up Buena Vista, and took a brief ride through some more residential areas and then I showed her the Pimlico Rec Center courts where she and Rich would be playing on Wednesday morning, before we headed back home.

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So off they went to Pimlico Rec Center on Wednesday morning. While they went there, I took off to play at Churchill Street where I played some great games with the crew for couple of hours or better. I had for-warned Rich and Linda that I had the camera, and would be back over to Pimlico to catch some pictures of them on the court. I knew that Coach Mo was coming over to work with the two of them, critique their play... I missed them both playing, but got there in time to catch Linda's private lessons with Coach Mo. Linda - I hope you enjoy these picturs - Check out that form folks - I think she's got it!! Linda said Mo left her with some great drills to work on. Between that and the Pickleball Clinics DVD - she's all set to go back to Tanglewood and practice, practice, practice!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Rainy Weekend - But Plan to See Friends

The forecast for the weekend is more rain. This morning I (Donna) headed out for my walk at about 5:45. I've noticed the last two mornings that the air is a tad bit cooler, and there's been a nice morning breeze. I returned back to the Villa about 7:10 just as Rich was getting ready to head out for the pickelball courts. He was back by about 8:30 - it had started to rain. Just after noon, the skies had cleared and still suffering from a serious pickleball twitch - he headed back out to see if the guys were playing at La Hacienda. Indeed they were - more than usual, since they had not gotten to play in the morning.

It rained a little off an on later in the afternoon, but cleared right around 5:00 as we headed out to meet friends for dinner. We met here, at the Oakwood Smokehouse and Grill in Lady Lake.
We had not been here before, but the food was good and the atmosphere very friendly. Best known for their Ribs, we found the menu to have a nice variety. Fresh specialty salads, grilled burgers, chicken ,Mahi, steaks etc., and some creat sidekicks ( corn salad, baked beans, baked sweet potato etc. )

Here's Rich and I with Ken and Lynn Corbett (center) and Manny and Marie Cardoza. Manny and Marie live in Highland Lakes in Leesburg, and the Corbetts, from Greenville, SC are visiting Lynn's Mom at Highland Lakes. They came to celebrate her mom's birthday, which was yesterday. Her mom also recently had surgery for skin cancer, and has experienced some complications. We wish her a happy birthday and hope she recovers quickly!

The evening was just way too short. We had some great conversation that could have gone on much longer - but we needed to give up our table for those customers still waiting! Yes all of us are pickleball players, so yes there was a lot of pickleball talk. It's amazing how all of us woman have to put up with the same problem with our husbands who really overdue "poaching" on the courts!. But the best story of the night was Ken and Lynns 10 month stay back in 1991(I think), when as engineers, their jobs took them to Muskatine, Iowa. Nothing so strange about that, unless you've ever been to Muskatine. After staying at a Super 8 Motel for a few days they finally found a place to rent. One Half of a mobile home (yes I said 1/2) where they paid $270 a month rent, that included all utilities!! From the south and not used to those northern winters - they told us some really great stories of surving the weather and the town. What a hoot!

Ken and Lynn will be heading back to SC on Thursday as long as Lynn's mom is OK. Hopefully we can get down to Highland Lakes one more time to play picklball with Manny and Marie before we leave here. And if our travels take us near Greenville, SC we will definately stop by and meet the rest of the Upstate Pickleball Club.

Yes it's still raining and Rich is fearfull that the courts will be too wet to play in the morning. Despite the weather - we had a great time with friends..

..........and maybe tomorrow they can finally move on with the US Open Tennis Matches!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Donna has a new job - Regional for USAPA

( From the Tanglewood Pickleball Club Blog)

Congratulations to Donna Donald for taking on the postion of Regional Ambassador for the Atlantic South Region. Donna replaces Dick, "Greenie", Greenfield in the position.

............................. Donna has worked diligently to produce an excellent monthly ambassadors' letter so that all areas in the Atlantic South have been both recognized and informed. She is individually responsible for the Atlantic South Blog and its content. She is a leader at her home club at Meadow Pointe.

Click here to read the complete article as written by Wayne Roswell on the Tanglewood Blog: Regional Ambassador

We Finally Met Ken and Lynn Corbett !!!

Today, Rich and I headed for Highland Lakes to play pickleball. Our (e-mail ) friends from Greenville, Ken and Lynn Corbett are down visiting Lynn's mom at Highland Lakes. Her Mom's Birthday is on Thursday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Lynn's Mom!!!
Ken and Lynn learned how to play pickleball while visiting Highland Lakes one year and have since started a group of players at home in Greenville. Lynn, put me in touch with Manny and Marie at Highland Lakes, and I did a feature article on their great facility on our USAPA site a month or so ago.
Lynn and I have continued to keep in touch via e-mail, and when we missed them on their last visit to Florida - we made sure we would see them this time around. Posted by Picasa
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Rich and I arrived just before 8:30 this morning, wearing our pickleball tattoos that we got at the Labor Day Jamboree on Saturday. We were a little bit early, and as soon as we walked in the door we recongnized the couple hitting balls on the court.

HERE IS KEN AND LYNN smiling for the camera and ready for our first game of picklebll.

It was great to see our friends Manny and Marie Cardoza again too. A few players that we hadn't met during our last visit we met today too. And we finally met Tom Gulakson - who is their pickleball trainer - His first serve to us was with a ball that measured about 1" in diamater! Funny!!! I took a lot more pictures - but so many of them came out blurry! Sorry!

We're meeting up with Ken and Lynn and with Manny and Marie Saturday for dinner. Can't wait. Regardless of the's sure sure to be a night of great company and great conversation.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Pickleball Jamboree at Kings Point

We had debated on whether or not to drive two hours early on Saturday morning to attend the annual Labor Day Pickleball Jamboree at Kings Point in Sun City Center. We're glad we did. I don't remember exactly how many people Louann said had registered, but I think it was somewhere around 45. She planned a four game round robin where everyone recorded their results. You stayed with your partner through the round robin. The top teams played off inthe medal match. Rich partnered up with a couple of the new players and I team up with Mary, one of the ladies from Kings Point who was in need of a partner. There were some very good players who traveled from Kissimmee, which is up near Orlando, and from Ft. Myers. It was great to see some of the people that we usually only see at the Senior Games.

Enjoy the pictures

That's Robert on the left, Rich and Mike checking out the schedule to see when and who they play.

Rich, with Tom - one of his partners for the day. That's Mary in the back. She's the lady that I partnered with today.

These ladies drove all the way from Ft. Myers today. It was the first time that we met the lady on the left.........and I can't remember her "real" name. Throughout the day everyone called her Patti. In the center is Sherron and that's Sara on the right. Those of you who do tournament play have seen these two playing both doubles and singles play in all the Senior Games.

Virgina and Connie, both from Kings Point partnered for the day. Virginai and her husband used to do a lot of RV'ing and they asked about Travis Weaver today. They said to tell you HELLO! Also said their RV days are pretty much over.
Another woman's doubles team that you see at all the tournaments. This is Cindy Eddleman and Nancy Meyer, both USAPA Ambassadors from Ft.Lauderdale. We wish them luck in the Nationals in Arizona this year!! These two took first place today in the woman's doubles. Nancy and her mixed doubles partner Irv, from Kings Point took first place in the Mixed.

That's Gary Ball in the Blue Shirt, playing today with Artie. Gary and Rich usually play together, and he will be playing with Rich in most of the Senior Games this year. Since we didn't make up our mind to go until very late, Gary had already found another partner for the day. Gary and Sherron in the picture above played together in the mixed doubles.

Now I don't know who all these people are. In the front is Clyde and Don. The are from the Sun City Pickleball Club and this is the group that came complete with signs and pom poms to cheer them on. What a great group!
I can't believe I really got this shot! Usually when I try to get a picture of Rich on the court I'm about 3 seconds too late and catch him just standing there. His partner in the game was Dino.

Margie Diaz!! Wha a riot she is. I know that all you pickleball tournament players know Maria. Her regular partner is Cathy Miller, but Cathy couldn't make it today. I told her I didn't recognize here without her PINK Shirt!! Today she came with three other players, Sylvia, Steve and Bob, from Solavita which is in Poincianne, up near Orlando.

Sylvia (not in picture) and Maria challenge Nadine (back left) and Louann. Undoubtably a great game. They are all in the same age group, so often end up playing against each other at the Seniror Games events. It was great to see Louann playing today... But I'm sure she was very very tired at the end of the day between playing and having to keep the event moving along.

Here is Louann's husband Tony, in the orange hat, playing with Robert. Tony and Louann recently purchased a small we hope to meet up with them along the road one day. Maybe we can get them over to TT Orlando or Peace River this winter.

Sara Yager (from Ft.Myers) sent me these two pictures. I loved the comment she sent along with tham......
"Probably a few folks had left, but we gathered the rest for a group shot. I could not get everyone into one shot so you could still tell who they are. Others were taking photos, so you may get some better ones... Photographing a group of sweaty folks wearing hats and squinting into the sun is always hard... " Let's see how many we know:

Back Row: Left to right. Nancy, Irv, Steve, Sylvia, Tony, Robert and Gary.

Front Row: Left to right. Bob, Margie, Mary, Nadine, Louann's granddaugher, Asia, and Louann

Second half of the picture:
Back Row: Gary, Don, Patti, Ron, Ellen, (?), Clyde, Shirley, (?)
Front Row: Louann, Cindy, Sherron, (?)

Thanks SARA!!
The weather was wicked - the event was GREAT!