Receiving guests is a pleasure

Peacetime veterans enjoying the good life.

From time to time we get visitors from “back home,” in the Gainesville area. It is good to get caught up, but we also like showing off our new community, even when we don’t really know anything. Cindi and I had driven past a restaurant on the way to the docks where people pull in off the river for grub. It was called Neon Leon’s, and it’s named after the bass player with Lynyrd Skynyrd, Leon Wilkeson. It’s owned by a relative of Leon’s. That is where we decided to go to dinner with our friends, Clifford and Susan Whitman.

It’s not fair to call this a review, so let’s just call it an impression. We ate outside on a day perfect for doing so. It was cool and breezy, and it wasn’t crowded. We met nice people at the next table, and that made it even more pleasant. The food was also good. We didn’t exactly put Leon’s to the test, but nothing disappointed us. I got the Jambalaya, Susan got the Mighty Rad Creole, Clifford got the bacon-wrapped shrimp, and Cindi got the hot wings. She liked the wings so much, and they were priced so reasonably ($7.99 for 10 and $12.99 for 20), that I was assured that I will be sent out for them some night.

Humble appearance but quite a nice place, with picnic tables and pavilion

Later, for dessert, we stopped at Taz Dogs N’ Scoops for the free ice cream they were giving away to veterans because it was Veterans’ Day. Clifford and Cindi and I were all able to display our VA ID cards, so it was a big score for our party. And the ice cream was great! We will be back again as paying customers soon!

Catching up with the Marshes

Neighbors listening to the live music, talking, and waiting on dinner.

It’s almost November and we are really enjoying this part of Florida. The people are very friendly, the skies are beautiful, gas is cheaper than in Gainesville, and we are having a real adventure! But best of all, we have really found a church that strikes all the best chords with us. We really fit in here, and we get the challenge we need to press into what God has called us to do.

A good example is the fall festival that people in our church put on for the community. We worked with another church (even another denomination!) to promote and supply the needs of the 300 people who came to John and Terri Erler’s small farm to eat, relax, play games, worship, hear the Gospel, and get to know one’s neighbors. About 120 children were among the visitors, many of whom were unchurched.

Sack racers and bean bag throwers abounded!

Cindi and I have been very busy serving with the local Good News Clubs and promoting the ministry among the churches that do not yet participate, but we are very hopeful by what we are seeing so far. God is moving in the hearts of people to reach the next generation, and we just need to bring them together. Fortunately, they are much more willing to do that than anything I have seen before.

On the home front, my bottle garden has been producing some lettuce plants, but the spinach has been a bust. I just ordered some heirloom tomato seeds to start indoors this winter so I will have plenty of tomatoes and plants to share with our church family. Someone just gave me a bunch of pots, so our container garden will have more places to grow.

We are having a yard sale this weekend at our house to help with our ministry expenses, as well as be able to give to others. If you expect to receive, you can never stop giving!

There are elections on Tuesday, and I hate to admit it, but I still have a lot of homework to do in this area. The only local candidate I really like right now is a guy running for one of the seats on the mosquito control board.

I will let you know how my plants are doing as they keep growing. Later!

The Pop Bottle Garden

Ye old gardener wiring bottles to a chicken wire fence.

I got excited about growing my own “tower garden” after seeing it done on YouTube. So, when we first moved in, about 6 weeks ago, I started drinking Diet Coke and various other soft drinks in earnest, and collecting the bottles. I watched some more videos, got some books, went to see the “master gardener” at the library, and could finally wait no longer. I had to at least start the garden if I wanted to have some winter crops!

I started modestly, getting some of the organic spinach and lettuce seeds that a friend had bought, and set up 17 bottles that will each be home to at least one plant. I have room for about 160 bottles, but I don’t think I can drink that much soda without counteracting all the good effects of eating fresh vegetables from my own garden. But I do hope to expand the garden to its full capacity, and make some bucket towers for tomato and pepper plants. I’d also like to grow some beets, but I don’t know if root vegetables like those are a good fit with bottles.

I use green bottles for the watering bottles because the reduce the light coming in.

This is what the first 3 towers look like. On the right are where I have planted the spinach. I will have one column of spinach, and two columns of lettuce to start. I have cut the bottoms off the two liter bottles so each will fit snugly in the one below. The bottles are capped, but there is a small hole drilled in each cap to let the water flow through. I have cut a planting window at dirt level so I can both plant and harvest out the same opening. Hopefully, this will give me a weed-free garden with minimal pest damage!

All the towers will rest on a concrete pad and be wired to the chicken wire fence I have set up on two sides of the 10×10 ft concrete pad outside our bedroom sliding glass doors.

I will add towers as I get bottles. And I will try to find more plants that will fit in them. My goal is to grow enough food on that concrete pad to make a big dent in our grocery budget, and to share with others! I will add more pictures in the future. In the meantime, I will share the video that inspired me. I figured that if a professor in Belgium can have this sort of success in his climate, this should be a piece of cake in Homosassa!

We are now citizens of Homosassa!

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What should have been our move-in day…

It has been over two months since I last blogged here, and it has been a very busy time for us. To begin with, we were not able to close on our house in Homosassa when we had hoped. We had to move out of our apartment on July 30th, and we still did not have a closing date as of our move out date. So, we ended up moving our stuff to a storage unit in Homosassa that was just about a mile from our house. The storage business is called Pack-n-stack, and the owner was very helpful to us. He was my best experience in Homosassa for the first week or so.

After moving our stuff to Homosassa, we drove right back to Gainesville and lived out of suitcases for over two weeks, camping out on a friend’s futon, while waiting for a closing date. We were only given 24 hours notice of the closing and had to hustle into Homosassa and spent the night at another friend’s house with our two chihuahuas. The next day, Metroplex mortgage had to push the closing back to later in the day, so that we could not get a key after we closed because the money had not been released since we closed late in the day. Never mind that we went and got CASH to bring to the closing to expedite things since they could not take a Gainesville check. We still had to spend the night again at our friend’s house. We were assured we would get a key the next day and be able to move in. They were wrong.

I was loading a truck with our stuff at Pack-n-stack when I got a call on my cell phone letting me know there had been a glitch. Underwriting had made a mistake and needed to sellers to sign another document of dubious importance, but the sellers said they would not. They had already closed and wanted their money. I was on their side. We had CLOSED, and it was the responsibility of these real estate professionals to execute their duties. The buyer and seller had done what they were supposed to do. I got pretty angry and started using words like “legal remedy” and “your errors and omissions policy” in a somewhat threatening manner. I didn’t yell. But I did have to go sit in a dark room and be quiet for awhile. I prayed a lot and tried to keep my cool. Eventually, I got a call from Metroplex saying it was all worked out and we got a key.

By now I had lost the use of the help I needed to unload the truck, but our friends who had let us stay at their place came to the rescue and the four of us got it done that night. It was like sleeping in a storage unit that night, but at least we were in our own bed again.

Since then we have gotten the utilities all worked out, and the chihuahua-size holes in the fence covered with chicken wire, and our new drives licenses and voter IDs. We have a new bank, have transferred our old corporation to the new owner of Marsh Window Cleaning, and we have got our office set up for the future chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship. We have had a meeting with prospective committee meeting members, and we are waiting for some of them to decide if they want to serve. We have done some volunteer training and have actually been to a Good News Club. We have gotten a couple of new ministry partners,but that has been slow going. My job is to get more intentional about that, and I have been making more pastor visits.

That is all for now. We are very busy and very tired. Scallop season ends this Wednesday, and I will have missed it. Next year I will be ready for it! This year, I will working on getting the vegetable garden going for the winter. I am so glad I live in this part of Florida!