Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Park Life In These Here United States.

With only 7 blog posts in December, some people tell me I should post more often. I'm sure some also think I should post less often but I guess they know what to do !

My problem has been that I've never been sure WHY I blog. It was never intended to be a sort of daily diary as my life just isn't that interesting. When I go on trips to jolly johnny foreigner lands, it's quite a time consuming task to pick, edit and upload the photos and write text around them and so I lose a bit of interest after the first few days. You may have noticed a few European trip blogs have yet to be completed. Believe it or not, even no-trip posts can take me a while.

But I do have time I guess. And maybe I don't need to think that every post has to be a potential Pulitzer prize winner ! As if !!

So in an effort to get myself into a more regular post mood, I'll give this "what's going on in my life" angle a try and see where it goes. It may not always be pretty, but what the hell. If or when I reach zero viewers, I'll know it's failed.

If only the scriptwriters on Two & A Half Men could take such a hint !

So, a quick summary for new readers; I'm a 59 yr old Brit from Leeds, England. From 1989-2000, I took every work holiday I could touring the US and in that time, I visited every state except Alaska. Since I retired in 2001, at 49, I've been coming every winter to stay with my friends Debby and Dennis. They lived in Michigan but moved down here to Florida a few years ago and I've 'moved' with them ! We live here in a 'retirement community' park called Buttonwood Bay, a mile or so south of the town of Sebring in mid Florida and 90 miles south of Orlando.

The park is split between a 'manufactured homes' side with about 433 houses like we live in and an RV side which has a mix of about 536 'park model' trailer type homes and empty lots for any visitors who want to come with their motorhomes, trailers and 5th wheels for a day, a week or all winter. So when fully occupied, the park can have around 970 homes of one sort or another and assuming 2 people per unit on average, we can have a population of close to 2,000.

I've uploaded many photos from around the park on previous posts but here is a current one of the front of the house here.

Debby works in the sales office as there are always houses up for sale given the average age of the residents ! Dennis works on the maintenance team within the park and so most days, after they've gone off to work on their golf carts, I'm home alone with Pixie, their cute little 13 year old long haired dachshund.

All caught up now ? Good.

As I mentioned in the previous post, we're in a cold snap here in normally hot and sunny Buttonwood Bay (just south of Sebring and 90 miles south of Orlando) but it was only last night/this morning when it was supposed to get to the sub 32F level. Residents covered what trees, bushes and plants as they could as even a few hours of frost can kill them. Dennis harvested as many of the lemons as he could but left the oranges to their own devices. The potted herbs were brought inside.

All over the park, owners were doing the same and by nightfall, it looked like Christo had been at work !

This morning, my temp station showed the lowest temp had been 36.5F but as the outdoor 'probe' is close to the house, that may not have been the true low. Anyway that should be it as the forecast for the next 10 days shows temps climbing back to seasonal norms.

Due to the cold, there isn't as much outdoor activity around the place. A few well wrapped hardy souls will always walk in the early hours and I've seen two cyclists peddle by. But the park has gone into a sort of self imposed hibernation mode with the 2 swimming pools and the cafe being closed. A good time to catch up on emails, blog posts and quilt making !

Last night we watched the 2nd in the UK's Channel 4 series called Living With The Amish in which 6 English teens (3 boys, 3 girls) from different backgrounds come over to spend 5 weeks with a series of Amish families to learn their ways and participate in their lives. I'm fascinated by the Amish and have been ever since I saw Witness, the movie starring Harrison Ford. I even visited Lancaster County in PA when I was touring The States in the 90's and yes, I took a photo of the Intercourse town sign. You just HAVE to !

Our friends next door here come from that area and Carl is a Mennonite. His wife Jackie loaned me a book called The Riddle Of Amish Culture which is a bit of a heavy academic tome but is still full of interesting and informative facts.

I'd love to have seen the previous Ch4 series where some Amish teens went to the UK. In this follow up series, I was a bit worried that the selected UK teens would've shown the worst side of the UK.....being that they're all from the London area ! One girl had never had to lift a finger around the house so would find the Amish work ethic a shock. Another was a youthful feminist who certainly wasn't going to easily accept the woman's domestic role in Amish culture. The last was a worldly, party type who would probably find Amish life dull and repetitive.

It was a similar story with the 3 boys. Lazy, spoilt or unemployed.

So far the series has been a happy revelation as all 6 of them are embracing the Amish culture of early rising, hard work, simple pleasures and above all, community conformity. Gone are the electronic devices, differing clothes, makeup and jewelry and in has come a feeling of unity, teamwork and basic family values. I doubt any of the teens will rush home and want to set up an Amish community in London but hopefully they'll have learned a few simple lessons about an alternative lifestyle and take parts on board in their own lives.

Wow that was a bit of a plug for a tv series ! I hope someone at Channel 4 reads this and realises I'd appreciate a check in the post.

And here endeth today's diary entry ! Given that my 'skills' revolve around getting up late, sitting on my butt and surfing the internet, I think it's fair to say that I'm unlikely to be embracing the Amish culture anytime soon. I would've loved to have come from THAT town though so that when asked where I was born, I could repeat the name and then wait for the inevitable follow up question....

"No, I asked WHERE you were born, not.........."


jay said...

Haha! Yes, I suppose you WOULD have to take a picture, wouldn't you?

Well, that was quite interesting, especially the bit about the Amish exchange and how the Londoners rose to the occasion. Good to hear! I've heard before about the way the Amish send their children out to experience the world when they're teens. Quite clever, I call it. They've had the chance to imprint their culture and values on them during their formative years and just when they're about the rebel, they send them out to sink or swim. Not suprising really, that most decide to go back and stay!

rhymeswithplague said...

Intercourse, Pennsylvania, is not far from Blue Ball. Really.

Poet Alan Ginsberg mailed his publications from there in an early case that tested U.S. obscenity laws many years ago. If memory serves, part of the reason his publications were found to be obscene was that he he purposely chosen a titillating postmark. I don't remember whether they found that everyone living there was obscene also.

Bike Locks said...

So in an effort to get myself into a more regular post mood, I'll give this "what's going on in my life" angle a try and see where it goes.

William said...

I hope you having great trip (rips to jolly johnny foreigner lands)I love trip with my motorbike with Full Face Off Road Helmets

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