Monday, January 30, 2012

Happy Hour with the Zukas'

It seems that not a week goes by before  people gather at the site of one RV'er or the other. Tonight it was over on A Row with John and Shelly.

By now we all know that Happy Hour - is actually more like Pot Luck, and tonight was no different.  As the group began to gather I tried to get a few pictures before it was too dark.  Tonight there were a few people that Rich and I had not yet met..........except to see them out on Ken and Fays' Blog!

Pictured below:  In the center of the picture is our Host and Hostess - John and Shelly and surrounding them, starting top left are: Bryan and Helene, Keith and Marie, Jim and Julia and Rene and Mira smiling for the camera!

Below, is Art and Hedy,  Krystal and Nate, Tonyia and Nick, Vickie and Bob, Jim and Marlene and Kay and Todd.

Everyone enjoyed a great "pot luck" with peanut crusted Talapia,  corn casserole, pasta, chili, macarroi and cheese, spicy hot dogs, wantons and egg rolls, meatballs, banana bread, chips and some really great dip and some great cookies and muffins.  I'm sure I've forgotten something - there was so much!

If ever you've been to a happy hour with John and Shelly - then you know that John does not let you leave before you are fully entertained.  Tonight was no different.  Now some of us had  taken part in  John's presentation of "The Moon is Round: before , but tonight we had some new folks.  Below  is eveyone trying their best to "Do It Right"  All you need to do is Pay Attention and Listen Closely to what John tells you to do.  Sorry - can't give away any secrets....

After everyone took their turn drawing in the dirt.........we moved on to a little Sunday Night Live Commedy Entertainment.  The featured acts tonight were John  and the tale of the tooth brush salesman and Julia who did a great job with the the story of the Bible salesman with a stutter.   Sorry - can't give away the punch lines!  They were both great!!

Now, John and Shelly are parked right beside the Pickelball Courts -so most everyone brought along a change of shoes and their paddles and took to the courts for a few games before heading home for the night!

Thanks John and Shelly for a really fun evening!  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Family Gathering ?

On Sunday evening we gathered with some of our friends at the home of Art and Hedy.  (While most of us have our motor home or 5th wheel - Art and Hedy own one of the park models here at Peace River).   Hedy says the evening was a "medal celebration".  This is the group that came home with 10 medals/awards last Saturday  at the Winter in Paradise Pickleball Tournament over in Sun City Center.

Whatever the reason - it was an evening of fun, great laughter and an outstanding menu.   Seated below around the table is Nate, Tom, Karen, Rich, Donna, Art, Hedy, Buddy, Diane.....  In the bottom photo - Krystal is back at the table and Hedy begins serving up the food.

 The evening started with your choice of beverage, but most of us enjoyed the freshly made fruit punch. The menu was 5 Star Quality and consisted of Chicken Cordon-Blue, Baked Potato, Peas, Green Salad and Biscuits.

 I think it was when Buddy and Diane's bottle of champagne was opened that the story telling and laughter went up a notch or two.  We heard about the teenage years from Rich and his wild  weekly keg parties and bad driving habits.  There was Tom -  the good little alter boy and his "impure thoughts" about one of the Catholic nuns.  And I learned that Krystal and I were much the same back in high school - both wanting to save the world - me as a nun and her as a missionary!  But the best story of the evening was the office romance that brought Art and Hedy together 28 years ago.  

And the evening was not yet over .  It was time for coffee and dessert.  And out came the biggest cheesecake I've ever seen.  One half covered in blueberries and the other with cherries.  Absolutely delicious - with seconds for Tom and Rich! 

How fortunate we are to share such good times with such wonderful people and so blessed to be part of such a great RV family.    

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Friday Night Live - Downtown Wauchula

We made a quick trip Friday night to check out the monthly Friday  Night Live in downtown Wauchula.  This month was Las Vegas Night.   The Casino was open for gambling of your choice - Roulette, Black Jack or Texas Hold-Em.... A $10 or $20 donation got you your chips to gamble away - Big winners would take home the big prizes.     Neither of us are gamblers - so we just walked around to see what else was going on. 

Walking down Main Street we spotted the HART (Hardee Animal Rescue Team) Booth.  Yes - that great big tall puppy caught our eye, but it was this beautiful female Beagle that got our attention.  She was seven years old and they called her Grandma - because of her white face.......... She was a bit timid - but with all the excitement of the night that was certainly understandable.  It was sooooooooooooooo hard to not take her home with us!

But we went on our way ........  but before leaving,  Rich insisted we stand in this very long line so that he could have his Funnel Cake!!

It was a quick visit tonight  and we headed for home.

An evening of celebration......

Just recently on of our favorite couples here at Peace River decided to take that giant step - and were joined in holy matrimony!    It really was not a big surprise to most of us.  They really have so much in common, especially their love of music and "jammin"!

Thanks to Krystal and Nate who decided it was time that we help the two of them celebrate, we worked together to plan an evening with friends that we hope they will remember. 

They were the first to arrive so I took advantage of the little remaining daylight to try and snap a picture of the two of them with their cake.

It was a perfect evening - beginning with a pot luck dinner.  Most popular tonight was the Spaghetti.  Mira - your sauce is perfection!!  Krystal must have cooked 3lbs of spaghetti - and it was completely gone by the end of the evening.  But - this group of people are great in the kitchen - there was a great variety of other dishes, h'orderves and sweets - that no-one went home hungry.

There was a bit of a chill in the air - so the campfire was perfect!   We also had a guest book that we asked everyone to sign along with their home town. Below Rene and Mira smile as they leave the newly weds a few words.............


Below - the happy couple is surrounded by a few of their many friends that came out to celebrate with them tonight.

Congratulations Buddy and Diane - Best wishes to both of you!
The Guest List:
Nate and Krystal
Bob and Vicky
Vick and Judy
Rene and Mira
Tom and Karen
Art and Hedy
John and Carla
Earl and Cindy
Garth and Rosemary
Paul and Carla
Jim and Patti
Jim and Judy
Nick and Tonyia
Rich and Donna

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter in Paradise- Pickleball at Kings Point

We're always surprised when we visit Louann and her pickleball group at Kings Point in Sun City Center.  She takes such great pride in putting on a fun day of pickleball for everyone of every age and every skill level.  She is such a creative lady and that is most evident in the pickleball goodie bags and the pickleball awards she puts together for winners.  Today, the weather was exceptionally cold so how appropriate that the  goodie bags complete with juice, breakfast bars, crackers, cookies or chocolate bars also came with little note pads cleverly attired in colorful sweatshirts . Trophies awaited the first place winner, paper weights the second place winners, and bronze medals for those finishing third. Every item displayed either the Winter In Paradise Logo and/or the pickleball paddles.

Everyone arrived bundled for the blast of cold weather that set in over night.  Last night we were playing in our shorts and t-shirts, but this morning we welcomed the low 40's and wind!  Below at the check in table is Nate, Hedy, Art and Buddy.

How cold was it?  Hedy's face tells it all!  In the lower left corner is Scott Nelson, our fellow USAPA ambassador who drove all the way from Satellite Beach ( near Melbourne) on the east coast!!  That's his son Joshua with him.  And in the lower right is Pat, Zachary and Chris who drove down from our home community in Wesley Chapel along with Pat's wife Suzi and Zack's mom, Karen.  Don Bass, also from our home community was supposed to be with them, and playing with me today..........but he tore his hamstring playing pickleball two nights ago.

As the day wore on it became a little more bearable; the sun came out and people started shedding layers of clothing.  They call me a Polar Bear..... but check out Karen and Nate!!!! 

Pictured  below in the top four pictures are Karen, Hedy, Buddy and Nate.  On the bottom row left is Jean who drove over from Torrey Oaks, and on the right is Louann and her partner Nadine.   Congrats to Nate and Buddy on their Second Place finish!

Rich partnered up with Chris from Wesley Chapel.  Art was supposed to play with Don Bass - so when he could not play, Rich stepped in and played with Art.   They played off the medal match for 3rd and 4th place against Zachary and Pat - and Art and Rich brought home the Bronze Medal!!   Below are pictures of Rich playing with both Chris and Art.

Karen, like Rich played with two partners today.  She played with Hedy and she played with me.   We started off pretty bad - and I'm just going to blame it on the wind, and a little nerves, despite the fact that we had some pretty tough competition.  We were sure we were not in the running for a medal, so Rich and I took off for home.  About 1/2  mile down the road, Nate called to say Karen and I were due to playoff for the Bronze.  We Kicked Butt!!!  Not really.........our competition was late for another engagement and had to leave.  So by default we take home the Bronze! 

And below - the rest of the gang from home.  That's Karen and Suzi (in the blue) and Pat and 12 year old Zachary.  Don't let his age fool you.  He's really a very talented young man, and plays a mean game! 

Rich and I did not play in the mixed doubles in the afternoon - but most of our friends did.  So we're still waiting to hear the results.

The weather could have been a little more accommodating today - but it was a fun day with our pickleball family.  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Reuniting with old friends.........

It was the summer of 2007 when we met Marcel Lemieux and Louise Barette.  We were traveling through New York State on our way to St. Clair Michigan, when we stopped to play with a group of pickleball players in Scotia, New York.  The two of them were visiting from Quebec, Canada and we all ended up in the same place at the same time.   Coincidence?   Maybe so - but we have remained in touch since that time.

It was the winter of 2008/2009 that we  planned to spend the season together, along with a few of our other pickleball friends at the Outback RV park at Tanglewood in Sebring, Fl.   We got to know the two of them so much better that winter, both on and off the courts.  Not only do they play a mean game of pickleball, they are professional clowns and magicians. 

After returning home to Quebec, they both experienced some serious medical issues, Marcel with his heart, and Louise with breast cancer. 

Today we saw them again for the first time since they left Sebring.  And they are looking and feeling just wonderful!!!   They drove down from Dover (near Tampa) today and spent the afternoon and evening with us.  The two are very active with Pickleball Quebec - so it was a lot of pickleball talk.  We did take  a stroll along the River, cooked out some burgers and talked until after dark.  They will be staying over in St. Pete Beach in February - so hopefully we can get together at least one more time before they head back north. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Florida FREEZE

How quickly the temperatures here in Florida can change. Here are a few pictures of our home over the last week.............

The sun is shining brightly and Santa definately had to have wheels on that sleigh to land on this roof..........
And here it is again - lit up for the holiday season.........
But the forecast was for a Hard Freeze last night, so the trees and shrubs were covered to protect them.  Hard Freeze means that temperatures will remain at freezing or below for several hours....It was well in to the 20's last night.
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Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year's Eve 2011

Well we didn't have Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber (did I spell that right?) but we had music and dancing and a little Karaoke, and we rocked the night away with friends, old and new, and rang in the new year with Dick Clark at the stroke of midnight!

But the celebrations started early in the morning.  Bruce and Gena and our little Miss Darby, down from Tennessee to visit family over the holidays, took time away to come visit with us.  We met up with the rest of the group at the pickleball courts about 9:00am............. Below is Gena with Diane, and Gena again. returning from a stroll with Darby.

Below. Bruce and Rich get in a few games with a few of the regulars.  Rich is playing with Debbie, and Bruce with Buddy....  Cindy and Karen are playing with two players new to the game.....
About noon we headed to Paul's Kitchen for lunch where we threatened to send Buddy to another table when he ordered liver and onions - but in the spirit of the holidays, we graciously allowed him to stay!  Always a good deal and a good meal at Paul's, and today was no different.

Around the table from the left is: Gena, Bruce, Rich,  Me, Diane and Buddy.

And Darby -  in her cozy carrying bag! This little one will stay in here forever if you let her.............she's comfy and and rests quietly content to just be with Mom and Dad. 

It's been a strange kind of year so far here in Peace River. The most significant difference is that so many people  that we spent time with last year are out west.............and we truly miss them.   The park is very quiet - and there's a feeling of unrest that permeates the air most of the time.  This is the first year in at least four or five that we're aware of that the park did not celebrate New Years eve in the parking lot - under the tent with music and dancing and fun and laughter until the stroke of midnight.   It was a little sad. 
But!!!  We didn't say that ALL of our friends were gone this year!  We've spent a lot of time with Nick and Tonya this year, and got to meet our neighbors Jerry and Nancy a whole lot better.  Thanks to these four in particular - we had one absolutely outstanding and memorable New Years Eve Party!!!
Nick and Tonya rented the site adjacent to them to make sure we'd have enough room.  With the help of Jerry and Nancy they set up two campfires, a lighted doorway AND dance floor, festively decorated, set up the music and Karaoke machine and invited all their friends.  There had to be somewhere between 40- and 50 people who celebrated together. 
We can't begin to remember the names of everyone we met......but the pictures below will give you a good idea of just what a great time we all had.

Tonya - with a few last minute details to be taken care of........and then she brings out the Big Pot of Chile!
Just mingling and checking out what's good to eat!

Stopping for a photo at the doorway is Sue and Todger.........They've been parked behind us for the past year or so........but will be leaving for Torrey Oaks on Sunday.

Our new bestest neighbors........Jerry and Nancy.  Nancy used her oven for the very first time...........and fixed an excellent spiral Ham for the night. Perfection!!

Julie, Rich and the Zukas filling their bellies!

Julie again.......... Bob was a little under the weather tonight - so she didn't stay to ring in the new year.

Bill and Judy Leiberman, the Murays and Patti ( hey Chickie!!!) with hubby Jim.  Patti and I work in the store together.

Tonya  and Genny with her home-made redneck wine glass.

These three are having WAY too much fun........or one too many?  Rich, Nick and John.

And still having a good time................
And almost everyone enjoyed the music and appreciated the dance floor.

And then there was Karaoke......Here we are singing along with Garth Brooks'  I've Got Friends in Low Places.................

And then we gathered around the TV to watch the ball drop and to ring in the new year with a toast, champagne, hugs and kisses and wishes for a prosperous and healthy 2012

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