Sharing With Sheffield

Just as everyone starts returning to Aberdeen for the cooler-weather season, Chris and I will be jetting off to South Africa and England to see family and friends. This has been our first full summer in Florida, and we’ve stayed here mainly because of the on-going house renovations which are almost complete. I now at long last have a kitchen, so no more paper plates and styrofoam cups. I remarked to Chris as I was retrieving masses of cutlery and cooking utensils from the packing cases and then trying to find a home for everything, that life was much simpler when we only had 2 knives, forks and spoons to use and then to wash up in the bathroom sink. Now we have to fill and empty the dishwasher and also find a place to put everything. Oh, the joys of being more civilized! I’ve been unpacking boxes from South Africa which had been in transit and storage for 2 years, so, as you can imagine, there were some happy reunions with favorite bits and pieces, as well as some “Why on earth did I think I would need this”! exclamations. It’s just not possible to condense everything from 2 houses into one, so at the same time as I was unpacking our ‘stuff’, I was busy rewrapping and putting so many duplicate items into the emptied boxes, for the ‘Breast Cancer Foundation’ pickup.

In between all of this activity, I always have one eye out of the window so as not to miss any wild life activity in the backyard, and one morning in August, I suddenly saw what looked like an owl fly across my field of vision and up into a palm tree. There was a lot of commotion from the smaller birds who were flying back and forth to the tree where Mr. Owl was precariously perched on a palm frond which was swaying madly in the wind. Anyway, the “un-welcome” visitor, who I recognized to be a juvenile Great Horned Owl, was not going to be intimidated by the squawking of the smaller birds, and clung on for dear life. I got a great shot of him staring straight at me through my bathroom window. A week later, he was back again on the same branch and stayed there for many hours. I was curious as to why he was out and about in daylight, as I thought owls were nocturnal creatures. The Ospreys, which circle and swoop around the lake here, have an endless supply of fresh sushi which they take up into the pine trees to consume. I’m so happy I’m not a fish, as the poor creatures do seem to be right at the bottom of the food chain. Amongst the smaller birds here, we have a beautiful pair of Bluejays, a Northern Cardinal, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, a Northern Mockingbird and assorted Doves.

I’m sure many of you have noticed that there seems to have been an invasion of Iguanas here this summer. Our backyard on most days, looks like a mini-Jurassic park, as the green, scaly creatures congregate to do absolutely nothing except lounge around nibbling on the grass blades and Hibiscus leaves. Chris had to cut down the bush outside my bathroom window, because it was harboring green “Peeping Toms” who would climb up the branches and press their scaly faces and long claws almost up against the window glass. Quite a startling sight to see from the bath tub, I’m sure you’ll agree. A few days ago I spied Ali-Baba, the resident “gator,” cruising past our patch. As long as he stays in the water, I’m always very happy to see him. The Great Blue Heron, who I call “The Boss”, is back presiding over his lake subjects, and who would argue with that beak of his? I read that the Great Blue Heron is the Native American symbol of strength, wisdom and patience, and looking at his elegant profile as he stands statue-like, waiting for a hapless fish to appear within striking distance, I’m not surprised that he was chosen as an example of these qualities.

Before we leave for overseas, we will have moved out of the master bedroom where we’ve been living since our February move from Ashford, and into our main living area. Hopefully there’ll be no more sweeping up of sawdust in the near future. Chris said to me the other day, “We have a great partnership. I make a mess and you clean up after me.” We will have been married for 50 years in December, and-with all his DIY projects over the years, I can vouch for the truth of that statement. It seems crazy that just as we’re about to get some normality back into our lives, we’ll be packing suitcases and leaving our home for 6 weeks. I think Chris is ready for a holiday though, after all the hard work he’s put in here every day. We are renting a beach apartment close to where we used to live, and are looking forward to a very relaxing few weeks.

I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving celebration. I’m sure we’ll have so much to be grateful for; I know that I do. Here’s a rather different quote about thankfulness, “If you haven’t all the things you want, just be grateful for all things you don’t have which you wouldn’t want.” The author is unknown, but I suspect he may be Irish.

Sharing With Sheffield

Ruth’s Note: Sylvia Shaw (a friend and recent transplant from Ashford to Sheffield) has generously agreed to alternate the “Sharing With Sheffield” column with me. She writes beautifully, and will be delighted to hear your news, views and happenings. I will be delighted to fill in every other month with my musings and chatter. How lucky you are, good friends and neighbors. Some villages can’t get even one writer; Sheffield has two!

Hello new neighbors! Chris and I have been happily living in your lovely community since mid February when we were more or less catapulted out of our Ashford home by a very quick sale with closing only 2 weeks later. As many of you know, 7884 Bridlington Drive had been standing empty for a few years with the roof leaking in many places; it took a lot of vision and optimism, mostly on Chris’s part, to imagine what it could look like with lots of creativity and hard work. The new roof was put on whilst we were over in South Africa, and when we returned in Sept. 2014, Chris started work single-handedly on gutting the whole of the interior, including walls, floors and ceilings. We got a very good company in to replace all the windows and sliding glass doors with hurricane proof double glazing, and then after filling three dumpsters with rubble including all bathroom and kitchen fixtures, we were able to get to work remodeling the whole house. At the moment, we are living very comfortably in the huge main bedroom which holds everything we need for now. All the bedrooms and bathrooms are finished and work is in progress in the main living area. There’s so much wood in there with all the framing for walls and ceiling, that it looks like a small forest without leaves. Whilst Chris is busy with his handiwork and when I’m not shoveling sawdust, I prowl around the backyard with my camera looking for the wildlife living here. Sheffield has many different creatures to those which I saw in Ashford, although I’m told by my good friend Jane Casden that a couple of members of the Iggy family have migrated across there recently. Some of the iguanas here are almost 6-foot long and I never know what I’ll see from my bathroom window when I pull up the blind of a morning. Sometimes it’s just Sammy squirrel busily scurrying around do-ing whatever it is that squirrels do, but one morning I saw a red fox being chased by an otter. On other occasions, I’ve been greeted by a green scaly critter with long claws, closely resembling a mini dinosaur climbing up the palm tree almost within arm’s length. I’m so glad that the bathroom window doesn’t open and is well sealed. I remember at Ashford once sharing the shower with a smallish lizard. I didn’t see it looking at me until my hair was full of shampoo suds, but I can assure you that I didn’t take my eyes off it for one second, willing it not to move, and I finished my shower in double-quick time not even stopping to dry it out.

We will be taking some time off during the sum-mer, visiting family and friends in South Africa and England and I’m sure many of you will be traveling up north to escape the heat and humidity of Florida. The climate here is very similar to the one we got used to when we lived at the coast in South Africa, but the seasons are of course reversed, so we’ll be going back in the winter, which is cooler and much more pleasant.

A very warm welcome to our lovely new next door neighbors Al and Sheila Tannenbaum. I’m sure you are going to love it here at Aberdeen. I wish all of you a very pleasant summer and safe travels. See you again in the autumn.

The Ashford App

Transition from one editor to another can be challenging. As the new volunteer editor, I apologize, in advance, for a limited entry to the April Aberdeen Times.

It is with much sadness that we report the passing of long time resident, Shirley Scarf.

Most important is our welcoming our newest residents: Marcia Feinblatt and Laurie S. Whol. Kim and Scott Schneider are renting the home of Don and Helen Comer.

As for the established residents:
Jane Casden just returned from celebrating her daughter, Stacy’s, special birthday and her grandson Jake’s 15th.

Her next trip north will be to attend the bar mitzvah of Grandson, Dylan. Mazel Tov in advance, Jane.

Jane, as our landscape chair, has requested that Ashford residents be patient as we continue our efforts to refurbish and upgrade our common landscape.

As for this editor, the last of our winter season guests is flying out tomorrow (first week of March) and the first of our Spring visitors will arrive at the end of March and will be here when this issue is published. It is a delight to be able to share our paradise with family and friends.

As tax season nears, Neal Keitz will be heading north to see his clients. When he returns, we will begin our season of travel.

Please send your tidbits and news about your life in paradise by the first of every month. LLKONE@ AOL.com.

The Ashford App

As I sit down to write this, my final Ashford App, I would like to thank all of you who have read my column over the past few years, and also for the lovely comments many of you have given to me about it. I’ve really enjoyed sharing both my news and that of your neighbors. It’s been an absolute honor and a pleasure. I wish Leah all the best as she takes over from me, and I know I’m going to enjoy reading her contributions every month.

Our house here was sold much sooner than we anticipated, and by the time you read this, Chris and I will have moved into our half-finished home in Sheffield. Much work has already gone into the renovations, but there’s still a lot more to do, and for a while we won’t have a kitchen, which some women might consider a blessing. I guess I’m about to find out the joys of not slaving over a hot stove. Anyway, as long as I have my bedroom, laundry, and bathroom, complete with hair dryer, I think I’ll cope for a short while at least. I’ll probably be spending my days shoveling sawdust and passing tools up to the ‘worker.’

I’m looking out of my window at Mr. A our resident alligator, sunbathing in his reserved spot over at Waterford. He seems recently to have been joined in the lake by 2 other pals, one of whom just cruised past whilst we were eating lunch in the lanai. I’m really going to miss seeing these prehistoric creatures on an everyday basis and also the bevy of beautiful birds who often show up for a photo shoot. Miss Rosy Spoonbill arrived here for the season, flaunting her gorgeous pink outfit. She looked a bit lonely and even shy at first, but soon made friends with the Ibis family and had a long chat with Woody Wood Stork, probably about club rules. In fact the other day, there was a big bird convention with literally dozens of birds all congregated on the lawn. Maybe they were holding elections for Mayor of Ashford. I’d say there was no contest at all. Mr. GBH, great blue heron, was sure to win, as he’s obviously the boss around here.

The Color War dinner was a lot of fun, and I was very honored to be asked to play piano for the Gold Team’s song. Well done to them for winning, and congratulations to the Black Team for winning overall and taking the cup. The spirit of sportsmanship and camaraderie here at Aberdeen is really wonderful. I couldn’t think of a better place to live. We’re all so very fortunate.

Thank you all for your good wishes as we move over to Sheffield. It’s going to be a rather challenging period, as our son and family arrive to stay for 4 nights the weekend before we have to move out on the Thursday. They’d already booked their tickets before our house was sold, and plan to go on to Disney as a birthday treat for little Max who turns 5 on Feb. 15th. I’m trying to stay cool, calm and collected as I methodically go through our belongings, deciding what to pack in boxes and what can be donated to the VVA. It’s quite a task, as I’m sure you all know from past experience, but we all get through it.

I received this e-mail from Leah Keitz, your new News Reporter:

“Hello Ashford:

As Sylvia and Chris leave our wonderful village shortly to settle into another, we wish them the best of life in their new home. Of course we are sad that they are leaving here but know that we will still see them in our Aberdeen community. Good luck Sylvia and Chris.

Though a hard act to follow, Sylvia passes the baton on to me as the Ashford reporter for the Aberdeen Times.

My email is llkone@aol.com. Feel free to send your news as of Mar. 1 for inclusion in the April issue.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Leah Keitz”

Congratulations to George and Lillian Spiro who celebrated their 73rd anniversary with friends and family on Feb. 7th. George was 19 and Lil was just 18 when they were married in 1943. George went into active service soon after, and the newlyweds were apart for 2 years. When I said that I’d never known anyone who’d been married for so many years, George replied. “Oh yeah, and we’re still shooting for a few more.” That’s the spirit! I’m sure that we all wish this lovely couple lots of good health and happiness for many more years together.

The new owners of 7215 Ashford Lane are Bruce and Sharon Sussman from Westchester County NY, and we wish them much happiness in their new home.

We congratulate our Board of Directors Committees for 2016, and thank them all for the excellent job that they do to keep Ashford running so smoothly and to such a high standard.

Well all that remains is for me to sign off and say that it’s been wonderful to be part of the Ashford community. Almost 5 years ago, you welcomed Chris and myself with open arms as ‘sunbirds’ from South Africa, in spite of our strange accent. We’ve had some really fun times together and made many good friends. Fortunately, we won’t be far away and I know we’ll see many of you at the club from time to time. Thank you so much for all for the kindness shown to us whilst we’ve been living here. I’ll never forget dear Irving Breiter who was president at the time, calling round to welcome us to Ashford on the day we moved in, bearing the traditional Jewish housewarming gift of bread, salt, sugar and a few coins. I’m still using the salt. As my parting shot, here’s a quote from Miss Amelia Earhart, “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions and the roots spring up and make new trees.” The Nobel Laureate, Isaac Bashevis Singer, who was a resident of Surfside, FL, also had something to say on this important subject, “Kindness I’ve discovered, is everything in life.” Such true and wise words. Have a great month of March!

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