Florida Blueberries

Abshier Farms in nearby Belleview grows delicious blueberries. During one part of the season they set aside rows of several kinds of blueberries and let guests in there to pick their own. The berries grow so thick on the branches that it's impossible to pick them all.
Erin came with us - she was here last weekend but came back for more.
It's understood that we will eat berries as we go along. They actually encourage it - you have to find out which type of berry you like the best! I settled on one I really liked and picked only those but Randy, as usual, decided variety was a better option and filled his bucket with several different types.

It was a perfect day for berry-picking! Sunny but not too hot, good company, and lots of berries!

Through the Lock

It was a gorgeous day today, perfect for being on the water, so Pete and Donna joined us for a boat trip to the Palm Gardens Restaurant and Marina in Tavares. To get there we crossed half of Lake Griffin to the Haines Creek entrance, then went up Haines Creek until we reached the Burrell Lock and Dam Spillway. We've been here before but didn't take the time to go through the lock until now. There was already a boat in the lock so we had to wait a few minutes until they got through and the lock-guy let the water back out.
Then he opened the lock doors so we could guide our boat in, keeping to the side so he could read the boat numbers. He has to keep a log of everyone who goes through. We grabbed hold of some of the ropes on the side to keep the boat steady while the water level was raised.
When the water was high enough (a couple of feet), the doors on the other end opened and Randy took us out into the other half of Haines Creek. Haines Creek opens into Lake Eustis, and at the south end of Lake Eustis was our goal, the Palm Gardens Restaurant and Marina. The name is kind of misleading - it's not a garden, and it's barely a marina. What it is, is a rough little restaurant with places to pull up and dock your boat. Which was all we wanted.
We had a nice lunch before starting back. The weather was perfect and the water was so beautiful. there were several other boats out but not enough to crowd anyone.
Quite the romantic getaway!

Randy is right, again

We pulled another clump of weeds up from the canal and let it dry a few days. We check them every day, and this morning Randy decided we should bag up for the trash. But when he walked out on the back porch, he saw this:
 So Randy is right, again. During our last episode with weeds and alligators, I sort of wanted to leave the weeds on the banks. Randy knew better, and we removed them

Today Randy quietly called me outside so I could see this before it ran away. I raced back inside to get my camera but I needn't have hurried - he wasn't going anywhere. Standing on our deck, Randy bounced a little bit of branch onto his back, and he ignored it. Then Randy tossed a small section of plastic pipe near him, and he ignored it. Finally Randy got a big branch and hoisted it next to the gator. That was enough to finally convince the gator that he wasn't going to be allowed to sunbath in peace. He started to walk off the weeds and as he moved, I realized he was much longer than he looked when he was curled up.
At the edge of the weeds he stopped and gave a long, loud hiss. Very long, very loud - this guy was not happy. Showed us his teeth, too.
Then he slide down the bank and out into the canal, on his way to look for another sunny spot, one without so many annoying people around.

Horsing around with friends

Some good friends from our RVing days were in Central Florida this week and we were able to get together with them a few times. Brenda and Woody came over for dinner one night, and on Saturday Brenda and I took off to spend a little "girl time" at Miz Kathy's Cotillion Southern Cafe. It's a charming little restaurant, everything a Ladies' Lunch spot should be. Later Brenda was kind enough to cut my hair. I usually cut it myself but it's getting harder to keep it short in back so I let it grow, but I don't like it. So she fixed me up. 

Monday we drove to meet them at a CVS near them, then they drove us out to the Webster Flea Market. We've been here before and it's a great flea market, with a small restaurant that's always good for lunch. They serve a buffet that has been reliably good; main dishes of pot roast, fried chicken and spaghetti are served with a lot of side dishes, salads and desserts. I got pot roast, carrots and cheesy potatoes with gravy, which was so good that I got a second helping of exactly the same thing before finishing with a slice of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. No, I didn't go just for the food, but it certainly helps!

We walked through the market looking at a lot of new stuff (socks, jewelry, hats, etc) but I like old junk better. So Brenda's friend guided us to the back area, where we walked through rows of interesting antique and yard sale stuff.  Along the way we kept seeing 2 guards on horseback. It's an efficient way to see over the crowd and move quickly when needed. The guards occasionally pulled Spanish Moss from the trees and fed it their horses. They said it's like cotton candy to horses. And the horses did keep a watchful eye on each other to be sure the other guy wasn't getting an unfair share. At last, a good use for Spanish Moss! I, of course, could not keep away from the horses.


Alligator again

Randy recently spotted the alligator who used sun in our backyard, before we moved the brush pile. He was sunning himself in broad daylight on the small walkway across the canal. 
I was thrilled to see him again, but truthfully I'm getting a little worried for this guy. He's still shy of people but perhaps not shy enough... if he keeps this up, some one will get scared, and I'm afraid that would be the end of him. Hope not - I like him. 


Disney in the rain

Our Disney tickets aren't valid during Spring Break so we haven't been to Disney for a couple of weeks. When Tuesday rolled around we were determined to go to Disney, even though it was raining. We just packed a couple of rain ponchos and went. And boy, did it rain - in Epcot the water backed up to flood the street, at least a foot deep!
But we didn't particularly care, it was just fun to be back at Disney. We started in Epcot with a Fast Pass on Soarin', then took the 20 minute walk over to Hollywood Studios park where, due to the low crowds, we were able to get on the Tower of Terror. They take your photo on this ride and my photo always shows me screaming with my eyes closed and head down! This time Randy suggested I at least not hide my face on his shirt. I tried, but I was still screaming.

Then, because someone had cancelled, we were able to get a Fast Pass to Toy Story Mania. This is one of my favorite things to do but it's almost impossible to get a Fast Pass and the wait is usually well over an hour. Today the rain was my friend! This time I scored over 140,000. Randy scored over 99,000, but who's counting?

We had reservations at the Sci-Fi Theator Restaurant. The tables shaped like a car with 3 "backseats" so each one sits 6 but only 2 in each row so it's cozy. In keeping with the theme it's quite dark in the restaurant, with just small "dashboard" lights, so we, like everyone else, used our phone lights to read the menu. We ordered a Reuben Sandwich with onion rings and a Turkey sandwich with fries. The food was pretty good, but nothing we must have again (Disney food has changed through the years, and not for the better). We were under the impression that they were screening a film but instead they showed a series of grade D (or lower) sci-fi films and old "Lets go out to the Lobby" advertisements. Actually, I think it was better than a film because a film has some dull parts, but I enjoyed all of the clips. I noticed that many of the films were based on the premise that other planets were populated by sex-hungry women, needing to repopulate their planet with help from Earthlings. Guess who wrote those? Sex-hungy guys! 
It was fun seeing those old clips - I remember many of those films from when I was a kid. I wan't supposed to watch scary movies but I managed to see some, and at that age - the early years of grade school - I didn't know how bad they were!

Big Dinner for the Church's School

Our church school has a fund-raising dinner once a year. They sell tickets to a dinner, the staff and students give speeches and entertainment, and the dinner guests are asked to pledge money for the upcoming year. Most of the money for the school comes from the pledges because they have a restaurant cater the dinner, so most or all of the ticket income goes towards paying the caterer. This year they asked Randy to fix the dinner. Since it’s for the church, he did it for free - the only thing they had to pay for was the food. And since Randy shops for ingredients instead of prepared foods, it was a lot less expensive.  His menu included sliced Pork Loin with and Apple Cream Sauce, Peas, Sweet Potato Casserole, and Sweet Sensation Salad (with mandarin oranges, goat cheese, and candied pecans) (desserts were supplied by other people). He made everything from scratch, right down to the salad dressing. He spent two entire days working on this in the church kitchen. I was there most of the time trying to help, but my help in this kind of cooking is very limited. We were told to prepare for 320 people. Pork Loin for 320 people, when you want to serve generous portions, is a lot of pork loin!
People in our Life Group came in to help pull it all together, and several teenager students volunteered to serve. We couldn't have done it without them!
We had a great turnout, even with a thunderstorm in the area. The total cost of the food was less than $1,000! That means that over $2,200 from ticket sales went to the school instead of a caterer. And, of course, it was all wonderful!  People keep asking Randy for his recipes but he doesn’t give them out.