A Long Holiday Weekend

We started the holiday weekend on Friday at The Villages Browntown Square. Their Halloween celebration included groups of people doing prepared routings. We missed the fire-baton group, but were in time for one of many line-dancing groups.  
We watched some dancing, ate sandwiches from a vender and looked through the stores until it got dark.

Saturday we went to downtown Leesburg with Donna and Pete. Now that the Snowbird season has started, there is a Farmer's Market here every Saturday. This particular Saturday there was also a children's Halloween costume parade, which was really cute. Afterwards we had lunch at Bloom's restaurant, then went through a nearby antique shop. It was full of true antique furniture, not junk, mostly from France. The best part was the back room, where the dusty wooden furniture sections were stacked up. There were some amazing pieces there, but they won't fit into our small house on the canal, so we came home without anything. 

Sunday afternoon our "small group" from church got together to play pickle ball, go swimming, and enjoy pot-luck. Since most of the members of the group live in the Del Webb community, that's where we met. It was great, except that Randy lunged for a pickle-ball shot and tore his leg muscle up. 

And Monday our church held it's "Fall Fest". Over a dozen people filled their car trunks with decorations and candy, and at least a thousand people came to participate. Fortunately the church folks were prepared with extra candy and candy-runners who kept their buckets full! Besides the candy there were several bouncy-castles and lots of games, and inside the main building was a section just for toddlers. Great time!

Ikea and the First Oriental Supermarket

Since Randy had today off, we went shopping. Now that we have a house, there is room for some things that we couldn't fit into the RV while we lived there. We went to Ikea in Orlando where we bought a little but looked a lot, planning for the very near future. We had lunch at the Ikea restaurant, where we discussed how much their food has gone downhill. It just doesn't seem to have much flavor; maybe they are using generic products? 

From there we went looking for the First Oriental Supermarket. Randy likes to pick up some items not available at Publix, and it's always fun to look around. The deli section features a display of meats that looks appropriate for Halloween, with heads and bodies hanging on hooks. Of course, these are pork, which makes me hungry, not scared.
But the fruit section is pretty; someone went to a lot of trouble to put up all those flowered garlands.
Oriental grocery stores are where I find foods that I didn't know were food. Like Eucommiae. This stuff looks like tree bark.
Thanks to Google and Google translate, I learned that this actually is bark, from Eucommiae ulmoides trees, commonly called "hardy rubber trees". It's used as a tea in Chinese herbology to treat leprosy arthritis, backache, knee aches and kidney problems. 

And nearby is this package, which looks like small tree branch pieces. 
And that is exactly what it is. This is Dried Millettia Speciosa Champ root, and I had a hard time finding info about it. But according to the Institute for Traditional Medicine, "This group of plants represents a relatively recent addition to the Chinese Materia Medica, first recorded two centuries ago in the Bencao Gangmu Shiyi (Omissions from the Grand Materia Medica, 1765 A.D.), where it was said that it "activates blood, warms the waist and knees, and cures paralysis caused by wind." Two centuries ago is recent? Yes, in Chinese medicine, I guess it is.

Sunny Saturday with friends

Today we had the chance to introduce some of our good friends to each other. Pete and Donna drove us to meet Brenda and Woody for lunch at Peck's. Peck's is home to one of our "Best of the Road" meals, and we've learned that the stuffed grouper is even better when it's ordered "blackened". This time, just for grins, I had crab cakes instead. They were very good, but the stuffed grouper is still the best. When we were here earlier in the year, they provided a slice of Key Lime pie as a birthday treat. This time, however, they brought us a banana-split dish. Not bad, but the Key Lime was better. Since we had appetizers of alligator and fried green beans in addition to our meals, we were all stuffed.
We got here just in time. Right after we ordered, a Cobra Car club pulled in with lots of cars. So after we ate, we spent a little time admiring these beauties. It turns out they are not originals; each one was made by a different company or person. But they're pretty amazing anyway. Randy, Woody and Pete spent some time deciding which one they would buy, if money grew on trees.
Then we drove to Homossasa to show Donna and Pete some of our favorite sights in that area, such as Shelly's seafood market and Monkey Island. The monkeys were more visible today, playing around the lighthouse base.
We discussed going to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park but decided we were still too full from lunch to enjoy it. So we drove to Brenda and Woody's RV, to visit little Princess and talk awhile before heading home. And this is the second time I have fallen asleep on the trip back.

Steampunk at Renniger's

The 5th annual Steampunk festival at Renniger's took place on October 15th and 16th. I have been creating Steampunk jewelry specifically for this event, using  antique clock parts. 
And I made several hats, aiming for a romantic Victorian Steampunk look.
Saturday we set up at the end of a long row of vendors. A surprising number of them were 1st-timers like us. The pavilion was full of vendors, but a few of the outside tents were empty. That should have been a warning!
It took awhile for the crowd to show up and when they did, most of them stayed in the pavilion. A lot of the people who came outside either didn't understand Steampunk and just wanted to see what it was, or they were parading in their already-completed costumes. Some of them were pretty cool; I loved the Steampunk bike.
But my favorite Steampunker was the sharp-looking dude at my booth! 
Several other vendors came by and expressed surprise that we didn't sell out. But I took a quick poll of vendors under tents and in the pavilion and nobody was doing very well. Could it be the aftermath of the hurricane? Customers usually come from all over Florida, and the few who came from the coast today had tales of the disaster there. Whatever the reason, it didn't work out as planned. But we sold some items and several hats, including one that will be the bride's hat in a Steampunk-themed wedding.

A bad day at Rennigers

The Saturday after Hurricane Matthew rolled up the Florida coast, we had our first day as a vendor at Rennigers. We got a good location in the Artist's Village (which is more of a row than a village, but they are trying to get more artists). But the crowd was very, very light. No big surprise, I guess; although the hurricane passed us, it did a lot of damage in surrounding areas, and people were busy cleaning up or doing weekday work that was postponed for the storm. Even the vendors had a tough time getting there. The vendor to our left, Bill the Bone Guy, arrived several hours late because he was repairing a fence that came down at his house. The vendor on our right, the Candle Lady, had to spend her day doing realty work that she couldn't get done during the week. So it wasn't a good market day for anyone, including us. Maybe next time!

So much for Matthew

Family and friends have been praying for us, and we are grateful. It appears that Hurricane Matthew will pass us by with even less fuss than Hurricane Hermine did. It rained all night, but not as bad as Hermine did. Today is overcast and the rain is still coming down, but it doesn't appear like we will have problems.

Matthew arrives tonight

It's raining now. Of course, it's rained every day for the past month so that's nothing new. But somewhere behind this rain is hurricane Matthew. We've moved our outside things inside, located tarps and candles in case of need, and are as ready as we can be. It's a good thing we have staples like bread, water and gas because there isn't anymore to be had. Now we just wait and see how much wind and rain will come our way. 

Waiting for Matthew

Fun day with Brenda today, visiting Goodwill and other thrift stores. But through it all we kept coming back to Hurricane Matthew. Brenda and Woody will drive their RV out of the area tomorrow, which is earlier than they planned, but if I was still in an RV I'd get out, too. I am torn between watching the weather channel to keep informed and not watching it because it's piling on the stress!

Getting ready for Matthew

Today Donna took me out grocery shopping, and the main focus was preparing for Hurricane Matthew. Here in Leesburg we are safe from storm surge and the dreaded eye-wall, but we expect high winds, heavy rains, and personally I expect the power to go out. It's gone out a couple of times, so this storm should have no trouble taking it out again. I picked up another case of water, but otherwise I think we're OK. Randy always has the place well-stocked so even if we lose power or a tree falls across the road and we're stuck here, we should be alright. We brought our potted plants in close to the house and cleared off the back deck. The boat will have to ride it out in its dock, but it is tied off at several points, it has a sturdy cover, and the bumpers are in place. More than that we cannot do! 

Sunday dinner with friends

Randy's part-time job is going to be full-time this week, which cuts down time we can spend with friends. So Brenda and Woody came over for Sunday dinner, with their darling little dog Princess. Princess is a bundle of energy, being less than one year old. Julienne wasn't impressed, but Shorty and Princess had a good time chasing each other around the living room. We had hoped to take Brenda and Woody out on the boat this week, but with Randy's job and Hurricane Matthew, that won't happen. Maybe next week!

Old Florida

Saturday I was supposed to be selling jewelry at Renniger's, but the guy who assigned vendor locations was on vacation and nobody else can do it. With an unexpected day off, we joined Pete and Donna on a small road trip. Donna planned our route to southern Tampa, where we found beautiful North Beach. The sand was white and the water was warm - wish we'd brought our swimsuits!
Some of the trees at the shoreline have interesting root systems. These are Mangroves, thriving in salt water. They have stilt roots which branch out and pencil roots which grow straight up. Cute. 
Next we visited Fort Desoto, just up the road from the beach. Back in 1849 Robert E. Lee was one of the guys who recommended building a fort on this location. When Union troops were located here during the Civil War, he probably regretted that. But it wasn't a real fort then, just a military station. The actual fort is from the Spanish-American war, which explains why it's not an attractive historical-looking fort; instead it looks like an abandoned block building. And there is nothing inside, just big empty rooms. 
But outside are a few really big guns. The four remaining 12" mortar batteries are the last ones in the US.  Nowadays, of course, they aren't dangerous, unless you get your head stuck in one. 
The one pointed upwards is how they were actually used. They were placed close to the wall, but maneuverable enough to be pointed up to clear the wall and hit what was outside the fort. 
We walked up the stairway to the top of the fort, which is covered by a wide grassy area. There is a coin-operated viewer located near to the fort's exhaust vents.
 The reason for the viewer: North Beach!
By now we were all hungry, so we went further north to John's Pass, looking for seafood. John's Pass is another Old Florida location, full of tourists shops and sights, including the Pirate Cruise. I'm glad that some of the older places like this haven't been replaced by malls and high-rises. 
We found seafood at the Friendly Fisherman. It was a bit pricey, but Randy's seafood platter and my shrimp and fish dinner were worth it.