Ocala Style | November 2022

Page 1

NOV ‘22

Entertaining WITH STYLE

GLORIOUS Gifts for All

Just Listed


Mossbrook Farms 10+ Acre equestrian home site close to WEC or HITS. 3-Bed, 3-bath residence boasts open concept with living room, kitchen, formal dining, den, guest room and work-out room. Second floor features guest room and “man cave.” Enjoy evenings on the deck overlooking stocked fishpond, lush paddocks with beautiful granddaddy oaks. Barn features 3 stalls, two offices, ¾ bath plus two-car garage. Five bay pole/equipment barn and 5 paddocks/pastures. Equine Enthusiasts! Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, hunter/jumper, eventer and Paso Fino lover or cattle enthusiasts, will love this unique 38+/- acre property in NW Ocala, on Hwy 326. Minutes to WEC and HITS. Beautiful vistas from every view, lush pastures with impressive granddaddy oaks. 3/3 pool home. 12-stall center aisle CB stable with 1/1 living quarters. 4/2 employee residence, large equipment building with tool workshop and RV hook up.

Just Listed

Joan Pletcher, Realtor

Our results speak for themselves. List with Joan today! Pecan Hill Farm

Just Listed

Great NW location 15+ Acres of beautiful vistas from every view, lush pastures with impressive granddaddy oaks and rolling land. Main residence sits high on its own private knoll. 3-Bedroom, 3.5-bath, large office, family room features brick fireplace, large windows and views of the property. Spacious owner’s suite. You’ll love entertaining in the sun room energized by abundant amount of natural light, raised bar and views. Private pool, 3-car carport, 2 detached dog kennels, plus storage. Peaceful parcel of land with gorgeous sunrises and located in prime horse country. Whether your passion is horses or cattle, this is an ideal property for either. 50+/- Beautiful acres of gently rolling land. Bring your plans to build the perfect home or farm for you and your family. Property is perimeter fenced and ready for horses or cattle. Whether your passion is hunters, Thoroughbreds, Paso Finos, quarter horses, or any other breed of equine, this property offers room to ride, train and raise horses or cattle. Property is located just 12 miles from the World Equestrian Center. Deed restricted community.

Just Reduced

Emerald Mile

Via Paradisus

• Access to Florida Greenways and Trails for hiking, biking or trail riding • Across from Florida Horse Park • Equine Friendly Neighborhood • Deed Restricted Neighborhood • 3,000 SF Minimum • Bridle Trails inside Via Paradisus • Lots starting at 3+ acres up to 155 +/- acres • Prices start at $37,500 per acre

What should you expect working with Joan Pletcher? Expect an unparalleled combination of professionalism, integrity and relentless commitment to her client’s unique needs, interests, and desires. Joan is a residential, equine property and land development REALTOR® since 1985 and a horsewoman herself so her clients have the benefit of experience and specialized expertise. “The Ocala region is home to the most beautiful equestrian estates and horse farms in the United States and the natural beauty of the area, along with an amazing variety of equine-centered activities and venues, such as the phenomenal new World Equestrian Center, makes this a place that more and more people want to call home,” says Joan.

Call or Text: 352.266.9100 | 352.804.8989 | joan@joanpletcher.com | joanpletcher.com

Left to Right: Michelle Scaglione, Zoie Thompson, Christina Klotzbach, Alysia Morejon, and Nicole Chojnacki

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Publisher’s Note

urely, we can’t be the only people in Ocala exclaiming, where did the year go? But that is exactly how many of us on the Ocala Style team felt as we were preparing our annual Entertaining Issue. We schedule this special issue each year to help you get ready to entertain your friends and loved ones for the holidays. Our goal is to share articles that provide inspiration and offer a few practical tips. In A Season of Style, for example, our regular contributor Jill Paglia offers tips for making your space warm and welcoming and for setting a festive tone the whole family can enjoy. If you are looking to support local shops during this giving season, check out our gift guide, which features ideas that can help make your special gift recipient’s life a little cozier, tastier or more luxurious. Our editor in chief Susan Smiley-Height and myself love Scotch (hint, hint) and so in the Single Malt vs. Blended Scotch article we appreciated veteran bartender Nick Wineriter’s explanation of why it’s important to know the difference when gifting someone a bottle of Scotch whisky. Our gardening guru, Belea Keeney, believes that plants make great gifts and gives you a list of some local garden centers in her Shop ‘til Your Leaves Drop column. Other features this month highlight how Stephanie Brennan gives retired thoroughbred racehorses a second life, how the Travis Mills Foundation helps veterans and their families and why The Hammock Coast in South Carolina is a great travel destination. We also tell you about the next speaker in the IHMC Lecture Series and how can you see real and replica 1800s-era pioneer cabins at the Silver River Museum, including during the upcoming Ocali Country Days Festival. Whatever your plans are over the next few weeks, as we approach Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve, we hope you truly enjoy this season of celebration.

Jennifer Hunt Murty Publisher

Sin ce




Publisher | Jennifer Hunt Murty


Magnolia Media Company, LLC (352) 732-0073

PO Box 188, Ocala, FL 34478 Head to El Toreo for the best Mexican food this side of the border! Enjoy all of your favorite traditional Mexican dishes in a friendly and festive atmosphere. Specials: Mondays and Wednesdays, Margaritas are $2 Saturdays, 2 for 1 Margaritas All Day

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Dine-in or take out available

Art Editorial

GRAPHIC DESIGNER Amy Harbert amy@magnoliamediaco.com PHOTOGRAPHERS Bruce Ackerman Meagan Gumpert John Jernigan MAVEN Photo + Film Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery Dave Miller Alan Youngblood ILLUSTRATORS Jordan Shapot David Vallejo

CLIENT SERVICES GURU Cheryl Specht cheryl@magnoliamediaco.com

EDITOR IN CHIEF Susan Smiley-Height susan@magnoliamediaco.com CREATIVE CONSULTANT Nick Steele nick@magnoliamediaco.com ASSOCIATE EDITOR Greg Hamilton greg@magnoliamediaco.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Julie Garisto JoAnn Guidry Belea Keeney Scott Mitchell Jill Paglia Dave Schlenker Beth Whitehead Nick Wineriter

Sales ocalastyle.com ocalastyle ocalastylemagazine ocalastyle

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Evelyn Anderson evelyn@magnoliamediaco.com Ron Eddy ron@magnoliamediaco.com

Distribution Rick Shaw

Decatur Street Pasta Located in the heart of downtown Ocala, Harry’s offers traditional Louisiana favorites like Shrimp and Scallop Orleans, Crawfish Etouffée, Jambalaya, Shrimp Creole, Blackened Red Fish, Louisiana Gumbo and Garden District Grouper. Other favorites, like French Baked Scallops and Bourbon Street Salmon, are complemented with grilled steaks, chicken, burgers, po’ boy sandwiches and salads. Their full bar features Harry’s Signature Cocktails, such as the Harry’s Hurricane, Bayou Bloody Mary or the Cool Goose Martini. They also feature wines by the glass and a wide selection of imported, domestic and craft beer.

Harry’s Seafood Bar & Grille 24 SE 1st Avenue, Ocala

(352) 840-0900 › hookedonharrys.com Mon-Thu 11a-9p › Fri & Sat 11a-10p › Sun 11a-8p

Happy Hour Specials: 2-7p every day $4 Draft Beer $5 House Wine & Premium Cocktails $6 Super Premium & $7 Harry’s Signature Cocktails Holiday Features available Nov. 1 - Dec. 24

C A ROLI NE KI N G CO UNSELI N G in div idual + couple s Caroline King, MA, RMHCI caroline@ckingcounseling.com www.ckingcounseling.com 352.509.5576

in this issue 16


Neuroscience researcher Natalie Ebner will lecture at IHMC on November 17th.



The Travis Mills Foundation helps veterans and their families.





Jill Paglia offers tips for making your home warm and welcoming for the holidays.


The Final Furlong Thoroughbred Retirement program gives racehorses new homes and careers.



Our gift guide offers thoughtful suggestions to make life cozier, tastier and more luxurious.




Georgetown County in South Carolina is a charming and relaxing destination.



Early 1800s architectural styles can be seen at the Silver River Museum’s Pioneer Village.



Dave recalls one very “explosive” memory from his college days.




Nick Steele shares some of the things that are important in his life.



What’s the difference, you ask? Let us explain.



Check out some local garden and plant stores for holiday gift giving ideas.

ON THE COVER: Jill Paglia, with Luna Photo by: John Jernigan This page: Top, Courtesy of Matt Brady and bottom, by Bruce Ackerman

Senior Living Communities Worth Celebrating in Central Florida


he demand for quality senior living communities is growing exponentially. Beyond the expectations of security and care, seniors today search for communities customized for their independent lifestyle. They want better choices for dining, special events, and luxurious amenities. They also want well-appointed apartments and welcoming indoor and outdoor living spaces that complement their personal lifestyle without forgoing their freedom – and rightfully so. HarborChase senior living communities in Wildwood, The Villages, and Gainesville are luxury

Assisted Living and Memory Care communities designed with exceptional hospitality and service at the core of everything they offer. Managed by Harbor Retirement Associates, generous amenities include full-time, onsite salons, HarborFit centers designed to accommodate all levels of mobility and professional exercise classes, beautiful outdoor living spaces, and dedicated Life Enrichment spaces like Virtual Bowling Alleys, Club Rooms, and Art Studios that guarantee events are always happening. From elegant décor and open floor plans at HarborChase of Villages Crossing to the traditional Florida designs of HarborChase of Wildwood and HarborChase of Gainesville, these communities stay true to Central Florida’s historic area while giving residents and families the environment they need to transition to senior living. Meticulous attention to details support Harbor Retirement Associates’ 20-year

Sponsored commitment to the creation and refinement of successful senior living communities in which we ourselves envision living. With five uniquely planned restaurants, ranging from casual fare to fine dining, residents and guests can choose to dine any time of day. Dining options within spaces that provide communal and private opportunities are imperative to the HarborChase promise of celebrating senior living every day. Signatures: The perfect combination of contemporary dining and ambiance, Signatures is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. With warm and masterfully lighted interiors, it’s easy to see why the restaurant is popular for both special events and daily dining. Signatures Too in the Memory Care neighborhood is equally vibrant. The Grill Room: Open to the public and residents every Friday and Saturday evening for one special seating, this fine dining restaurant is elegantly appointed for gourmet dinners and wine pairings. By reservation only, dinner includes a five-course, prix fixe menu featuring Land, Sea, and Air options. Zest: A sophisticated private dining room ideal for intimate dinners, cooking classes, wine tastings, and special celebrations. Reservations required. Open to residents and guests. The Chefs Studio: Located in Signatures and adjacent to Zest, the wood-fired hearth oven and open preparation area allows residents and guests to experience interactive cooking classes and

opportunities to watch the Executive Chef in action. Culinary events happen throughout the year and are open to the public, residents, and families. Fusion Lounge: With its open floor plan and beautiful bar, happy hours happen daily beginning at 3PM and include handcrafted cocktails, chef-selected appetizers, live music, and the occasional game of Smartini. Counter-Offer: A casual cafe located in the heart of each HarborChase community and adjacent to the main entrance, residents, professionals and guests can order grab-andgo artisan sandwiches, salads, and pastries from 9AM to 3PM. With all the freedom and amenities of a luxury resort, retirees who choose a senior living community like HarborChase of Gainesville, Wildwood and Villages Crossing, also get the reassurance that – should they need a higher level of care down the road – they need not look beyond their own front door.

! e iv


At world equestrian center Sponsored by

World Equestrian Center, Expo Center December 9, 2022 | Block Party 4:30 PM | Concert 7 PM




To benefit our nation's recalibrated veterans through the Travis Mills Foundation




Social Scene

The Marion Cultural Alliance’s 15th annual Applaud the Arts gala on October 8th at the Reilly Arts Center had the theme of A Whimsical Wonderland and included several people dressed as characters from the beloved classic Alice in Wonderland. Photo by Bruce Ackerman Pictured from left, Lucia Hall as the Cheshire Cat, Wesley Yates as the Mad Hatter and Olivia Heredia as Alice.


Cheryl and Luke Lasaga

David Ulloa and Crystal Westman

Arnette House Regatta LAKE WEIR Photos by Alan Youngblood


en handmade vessels participated in the September 10th fundraising event at the Carney Island Recreation & Conservation Area. The nonprofit Arnette House provides emergency shelter, family counseling and more for at-risk youth and their families.

Cheri Pettit



Crystal Westman

Alexis Brandies


Ocala ComicCon WORLD EQUESTRIAN CENTER Photos by Bruce Ackerman


any of the guests at this annual event, held September 17th and 18th, were attired in imaginative and colorful costumes. The gathering featured cosplaying, gaming and panels, with guest appearances by noted actors, creators and directors. Sam Speicher, Syreeta Moore and Olivia Thomas

Evelyn O’Connor, Zadie Whitley and Marc Perlas

Alayna and Laci Harbiston

Cee Champion

Joshua Knowles and Elijah Baker

November ‘22



Lisa Patterson and Tanya Walters

Tylus and Jennifer Chatterton

Give4Marion Celebration MARION THEATRE Photos by Bruce Ackerman


Bob Kennedy, Lisa Kennedy, Lauren Deiorio, Frank DeLuca and Angela Grace

Stephanie and Greg Harrell



n September 21st, at the end of the 33-hour fundraising event, Lauren Deiorio, president/executive director of the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County, announced that 2,537 donors had contributed a record-breaking $771,075 for area nonprofits.

Ashley Wheeler-Gerds


Applaud the Arts REILLY ARTS CENTER Photos by Bruce Ackerman


he Marion Cultural Alliance’s 15th annual event, held October 8th, had a theme of A Whimsical Wonderland, based on Alice In Wonderland, and included the announcement of MCA’s newest Cultural Grant and Arts Awards Recipients.

Laura Fowler, Greg Thompson, Craig Lily, Victoria Billig, Pamela Calero Wardell and Matthew Wardell

Lisa Midgett, Isaiah Pepper and Phil Olstein

Trish Kilgore

Jaye Baillie

Geraldo Rodriguez, Xochi Smith and Mel Fiorentino

November ‘22



Recognizing Fraud As We Age The IHMC guest lecturer on November 17th is neuroscience researcher Natalie Ebner. By Julie Garisto



Photos courtesy of IHMC


in 2007. She now teachorn near Lake es at the University of Constance in Florida and heads up the southern GermaSocial-Cognitive and Afny, Natalie Ebner became fective Development Lab. fascinated with the “There is this idea human mind as a teenagthat older adults, because er while poring over the of the cognitive changes Sigmund Freud books in and changes in decision her uncle’s library during making, and also changes “boring” family visits. in how we feel and how we Reading about psyinteract with other people, choanalysis helped pass that they might be at a the time and fueled her particular risk for decepcuriosity about what tion and exploitation,” Ebmakes us tick, she says. ner explains. “They’re just On November 17th, not as good at figuring out Ebner, who has a Ph.D. whether something is a lie in psychology, will give or it’s true. We have been a talk on deception trying to understand what and aging at the Ocala is contributing to this pobranch of the Institute tential susceptibility and for Human and Machine vulnerability in aging … so Cognition (IHMC) and there is a capacity to help discuss findings from They’re just not as them process, for example, her current study, Aging good at figuring out fake news as fake news.” Online: Determinants of In Ocala, Ebner will Susceptibility to Decepwhether something is discuss how she and her tion in Later Life. a lie or it’s true. team are attempting to difAccording to the ferentiate between differstudy’s abstract, Ebner — Natalie Ebner ent moods and conditions and her team are working associated with susceptibility to deception. to uncover age-related vulnerabilities in deception “We don’t necessarily find that older adults are detection, using controlled in-lab experiments to worse at deception detection than the young,” she determine mechanisms in the brain and in behavior shares, “but what we do find is the oldest adults, that underlie deception detection deficits in aging. those 80 and older, have lower cognition and tend Vulnerability to deception occurs primarily to display negative emotions. They are the ones among the oldest old and is linked to socioemowhere deception susceptibility increases.” tional as well as neurocognitive changes with Ebner’s body of work is documented in more age, the study reported, and results from Ebner’s than 60 peer-reviewed publications and her research have the potential to influence intervenresearch has been continually funded through tions to reduce victimization in older adults. national and international agencies. Ebner studied psychology as a pre- and postdoctoral fellow at the Free University of Berlin The lecture, which will take place at 15 SE Osceola and the Max Planck Institute for Human DevelAve., will begin with a reception at 5:30pm. To opment. Landing a spot as an associate research register to attend, go to ihmc.us/lectures. scientist at Yale University brought her to the U.S.

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On the Scene A guide to our favorite monthly happenings and can’t-miss events

OCALA FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL World Equestrian Center Nov. 4-6 Enjoy celebrity chefs, drink masters, live music and tasting options from local restaurants, wineries, breweries and distilleries. This year’s charities are the Public Education Foundation of Marion County, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Education Foundation ProStart Program and Kut Different. Tickets start at $155 and VIP packages are available. For tickets, visit OcalaFoodAndWineFest.com FIRST FRIDAY ART WALK Downtown Ocala Nov. 4 Stroll the square and check out artist’s displays, music onstage and street buskers. In addition to downtown eateries, food and snacks will be available from vendors and stores will be open late for shopping. For more info, ocalafl.org FIRST SATURDAY MARKET IN THE PARK Ernie Mills Park, Dunnellon Nov. 5 Vendors sell a variety of wares, there’s live entertainment and businesses have sales and specials. For more info, dunnellonchamber.com/blog/first-saturdaymarket-in-the-park-2 MCINTOSH 1890s FESTIVAL McIntosh Historic District Nov. 5 This renowned festival celebrates historic McIntosh with hundreds of vendors purveying crafts, art, food, clothing, jewelry and more. Enjoy entertainment and kids’ activities. Free to attend. For more info, mcintosh1890sfestival.com

MARION COUNTY CHILI COOK-OFF Southeastern Livestock Pavilion Nov. 5 The 41st annual cook-off to benefit the Cornerstone School features food, craft beers, vendors, live music, a kids’ zone and car show. Awards include Judged Chili, Judged Booth, Morgan von Trapper Spirit Award, People’s Choice Booth and People’s Choice Chili. For more info, marioncountychilicookoff.com OCALI COUNTRY DAYS FESTIVAL Silver River Museum Campus Nov. 12-13 The pioneer lifestyle of Old Florida will be on display with skilled crafters showing techniques for blacksmithing, making sugar cane syrup, cooking, building log cabins, Seminole cooking and arts, pioneer cattle and horses, spinning, weaving, quilting and other homecrafts. Live music, vendors and food. $8 per person; free ages 5 and younger. For more info, silverrivermuseum.com/ocalicountry-days-festival USEA 3-PHASE HORSE TRIALS Majestic Oaks Farm, Reddick Nov. 12-13 This eventing trial will showcase dressage, cross-country and show jumping competitions. A vendor village will include food trucks, tack stores, feed stores and more. For more info, majesticoaksocala.com/ event/majestic-oaks-usea-3-phase-horse-trialsnovember-2022 MOPAR CAR SHOW AND SWAP MEET Florida Horse Park Nov. 11-13 The 35th Florida Mopar Association Show will include show cars, vendors and a swap meet. Saturday is the start of judging and November ‘22


with Santa. Food trucks will be onsite. For more info, see ocalamarion.com/events/ocalachristmas-light-spectacular

LITTLE RIVER BAND Circle Square Cultural Center Nov. 19 With several terrific vocalists, this band is known for stellar harmonies on hits including “Cool Change,” “Lonesome Loser,” “Take It Easy On Me” and others. Tickets are $65-$120. See csculturalcenter.com/ events/little-river-band for more info. LIGHT UP OCALA Downtown Ocala Nov. 19 The 38th annual event will kick off the holidays with more than 100 vendors, food options, live entertainment and a kids’ zone. A holiday parade will bring in Santa Claus. The celebration culminates with the flip of a switch to activate thousands of lights around the square and on the giant Christmas tree. More info at ocalafl.org/government/city-departmentsi-z/recreation-parks/events/light-up-ocala GREAT DANE SPECIALTY DOG SHOW Greater Ocala Dog Club - Show Grounds Nov. 18-20 Check out these giants of the dog world, who are known for being family and kid-friendly. Held in combination with other breed shows. For more info, greaterocaladogclub.org CHRISTMAS LIGHT SPECTACULAR Florida Horse Park Nov. 25 – Dec. 30 This is a drive-through show. Ticket prices are per carload and include kids’ activities, live music, a train ride, slides and inflatables, ice skating and a visit 20


SYMPHONY UNDER THE LIGHTS Tuscawilla Park Dec. 2 The Ocala Symphony Orchestra continues its annual tradition of a free holiday concert in the park. Bring your chairs and picnic basket for a fall evening under the stars. The performance includes the Ocala Youth Symphony. See reillyartscenter.com for more information. POPS! GOES THE HOLIDAYS Reilly Arts Center Dec. 3 & 4 The Ocala Symphony Orchestra’s holiday concert is an Ocala tradition. Holiday music and touching tributes make this a night to remember. Tickets are $15-$40; see reillyartscenter.com for more info. LIGHT UP LAKE LILLIAN Lake Lillian, Belleview Dec. 3 Check out vendor booths, arts and crafts, kids’ activities and more. Food options available. Bring chairs. For more details, ocalamarion.com/events/light-up-lake-lillian2 NEVER GIVE UP ON COUNTRY CONCERT World Equestrian Center Dec. 9 This benefit concert for the Travis Mills Foundation, which supports injured military veterans and their families, will feature Colt Ford and Kidd G, with headliner Jimmie Allen. A pre-concert block party with Chris McNeil will have contests, food trucks, a parachute show and more. Tickets are $78-$202. For more info, travismillsfoundation.org

Light Up Ocala: Photo by Alan Youngblood

awards will be presented, along with a drawing for $100 every hour from 11am to 3pm. Herb McCandless (Mr. 4-Speed) will host a car clinic. Parking is $10. For more info, floridamoparassociation.com

MTRA ARTS & CRAFTS MARKET Marion Therapeutic Riding Association Nov. 26 The market will host more than 40 vendors and include live music, dancers, a car show, pony rides, food options and pie eating contests. Start your holiday shopping and participate in Small Business Saturday. More info on ocalamarion.com/events/4th-annualmtra-holiday-market-car-show


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Jannell, Jase and Matt Brady

Making Connections The Travis Mills Foundation helps veterans and their families. By Beth Whitehead

Photo courtesy of Matt Brady


att Brady says he should have been blown to pieces when the suicide car hit his team’s Humvee during a combat patrol. It was in Baqubah, Iraq, in 2005—10 months into Brady’s 13-month deployment— when 300 pounds of explosives hit his vehicle. As the machine gunner, he bore the brunt of the shrapnel, which pounded into his torso. He sustained a brain injury, a fractured jaw, burst eardrums and countless burns and cuts. Brady, who was deployed with the U.S. Army 3rd Infantry Division, remembers crawling out of the Humvee. He remembers seeing American boots running up to him and waking up later in a hospital. Brady finished his deployment and abandoned his goal of being a career soldier. In 2006, at the age of 21, he returned home to Ocala, where he had first decided to enlist, in 2003, after he graduated from Vanguard High School. Brady now says he wouldn’t truly start healing from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) until he encountered the Travis Mills Foundation (TMF) in 2018. He attended a TMF retreat that year and offers that only once he was surrounded

by veterans who had been in his shoes did his healing truly begin. Founded by former Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills in 2017, TMF is a nonprofit headquartered in Maine for veterans who are permanently disabled, and their families, to rest and heal through adaptive sports and in community with other injured veterans. Mills founded the organization after he lost portions of all four limbs in a roadside bomb explosion in Afghanistan. After healing, he saw himself not as a wounded warrior but as a “recalibrated” one, meaning he had been wounded but now was living his new normal. “He wanted to establish a place where veterans could go, live off the sidelines and enjoy that moment with their families,” says TMF Communications and Marketing Manager Molly Lovell-Keely. “They come here, they do the things they used to do, or they do things they’ve never done before. It really boosts their morale. It allows their family to rally and enjoy these moments… they don’t feel so alone.” TMF accommodates eight families each week and every activity is tailored for the limitations of the veteran. Whether it’s adaptive kayak, November ‘22



contests, a parachute show, food trucks and more. The concert will start at 7pm. Tickets can be purchased at https://bit.ly/NeVerGiVeUp To learn more about the Travis Mills Foundation, go to travismillsfoundation.org

Travis Mills and Linda Bammann



Jimmie Allen

Colt Ford

Kidd G.


World Equestrian Center, Expo Center December 9, 2022 | Block Party 4:30pm. | Concert 7pm. www.never-give-up-on-country.eventbrite.com

Photos courtesy of Travis Mills Foundation

golf, fly fishing, a rope course and wheelchair basketball, where even the family members play in a wheelchair, or something more laid-back, like boat rides on the lake, ziplines, visits to zoos or aquariums, and relaxing on the deck all day, TMF seeks to give veterans a stress-free place to rest alongside other veterans with similar stories. The weeklong retreat is all-expenses paid and all-inclusive. Applications may be requested on TMF’s website. “We had a fly-tying class and I watched the guy with no arm—and he had a big hook—tie a fly better than I could,” Brady offers. “Holy smokes, you know, there’s guys with one arm, or no arms, shooting a bow and arrow!” Brady adds that he knew hardly any veterans in Ocala or elsewhere before he and his wife, Jannell, went to their first TMF retreat in 2018. “I’ve got this network of veterans now,” he shares. “And I’ve got people all over the country… just the bonds that you build with these other veterans that you’ve never met a day in your life is cool.” Ocalan Linda Bammann is a board member with the foundation. She wanted to introduce the equestrian community and the many veterans in Marion County to TMF and helped organize the first local Never Give Up On Country concert, which took place last November. “When the World Equestrian Center (WEC) opened up, I just thought it’s a perfect opportunity to bring the Travis Mills Foundation to Ocala,” Bammann says of that event. On December 9th, TMF is hosting its second Never Give Up On Country concert, again at WEC. It will feature Jimmie Allen, with special guests Colt Ford and Kidd G. A block party with Chris McNeil will begin at 4:30pm, with

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en Marciano was born in Queens, New York, but, after his parents divorced, the 2-year-old and his mother moved in with his grandparents in Dunnellon. He recalls spending most of his childhood running and playing outdoors. Throughout his youth and into adulthood, Ben continued to love being active and athletic. Along the way, he encountered numerous obstacles, some of his own creation, but has emerged as a devoted family man, successful businessman and role model for others. What he learned—and is eager to share—is the value of having a strong work ethic, the importance of taking personal responsibility and that giving back is critical in business and in life.

Clearing Hurdles In his freshman year of high school, when he didn’t make the varsity basketball team, the coach told him, “You can go home and stop playing or you can go home, practice, and come back.” He practiced three to four hours a day and, in his sophomore year, became a starter for the team. He discovered that if you want something badly enough, you must work hard to obtain it. He also discovered, in his senior year of high school, that taking a drink of alcohol seemed to improve his confidence and fill a void. Ben aspired to become a police officer, like his grandfather had been in New York City,

Sponsored and had a passion to protect and serve. After he graduated from high school, Ben earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice at Central Florida Community College (now the College of Central Florida, or CF) while also working at World Gym Ocala. From there, he attended Florida State University, where his drinking progressed into drug use. After leaving a party one night, Ben was arrested for drug possession and charged with a felony, meaning his dream of becoming a police officer would never come to fruition. Ben went to work for Gold’s Gym in Tallahassee to pay his fines and court fees and says he fell in love with the industry, so he changed his major to Recreation and Leisure. The gym was struggling financially and the owners brought in a consulting agency, which gave Ben an opportunity to see them implement systems that saved the business. While he quickly moved up at the gym, Ben was still stymied by his addiction. He thought a change of location might help and moved to New York, where he managed a World Gym. But, he offers, “Unless you work on your addiction, it will travel with you no matter how far away you go.” He had done such a great job at the gym in New York that the owner moved him to Miami to open a new gym. Success there, however, still wasn’t enough to thwart the addiction. By now, Ben was unable to continue working and was losing everything. “I remember dropping to my knees and asking God (if He even existed) for help,” he shares. In February 2005, he checked into The Centers in Ocala where he committed himself

to working the 12 Steps and living a life of active sobriety. Ben left the facility with a few pieces of clothing and a mountain of debt from hospital stays and treatment. He was encouraged to live simply, focus on recovery and stay in the word of God. “I believe there are blessings in obedience, so I was willing to be obedient,” he says. Ben completed drug court and had his record expunged, which he says made his grandfather proud. Ben was hired at The Lord’s Gym and said to the owner that instead of starting as a manager, “I’ll do some training and I’ll clean your gym. I need to focus on rebuilding the foundation of who I am.” After meeting a young woman who came in for a gym membership, Ben called his father and said he had met the woman he was going to marry. Her name was Danielle. One day the executive director of the Marion County YMCA came to the gym to recruit Ben. Ben took a pay cut to take that job, but soon doubled the membership and helped the Y become more stable. Over the next six months, he worked tirelessly and, in 2007, became the youngest executive director in the association. He also married Danielle and paid off all the debt he had incurred.

Building A Family Business After their first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, Ben and Danielle welcomed son Benjamin Jr. in 2009. That same year, Ben was named Board Member of the Year for The Centers. Two years later, the couple suffered another

miscarriage. Then, in 2012, their son Vincent was born. That also was the year the local YMCA became one of the top Ys in the country. Now it was time for a capital campaign and expansion. Ben was tasked with raising $3 million, overseeing construction and keeping the facility running. He recruited volunteers who helped raise $5 million and the venue was renamed the Frank DeLuca YMCA Family Center in recognition of the local businessman’s signature donation. The YMCA awarded Ben the President’s Award that year. He soon was promoted to vice president, with responsibilities for two locations in central Florida and at the Orlando office. This meant traveling a lot, long hours and missing his wife and sons. By early 2014, Ben and Danielle were expecting their daughter, Giavanna. Ben felt like he was running on fumes. One night at a restaurant, he ran into a successful businessman, Tom Ingram, who said he would invest in anything Ben did and asked if he would consider opening his own gym. Ben felt the timing wasn’t right, but the man told him, “Well, if anything ever changes, you let me know.” That night, in a dream, Ben says he felt like God spoke to him about the good he could do if he had his own gym. After he told Danielle, she said she felt at peace about it. After a few months of prayer and

contemplation, Ben called the owner of a local gym who jumped at an offer to sell. Ben secured investors, drew up plans, rearranged personal finances and put operational plans in place. Without ever closing the doors, he renovated and renamed the venue, and trained all new staff. He and Danielle, often with three children in tow, worked non-stop. They quickly grew Zone Health & Fitness from 900 members to 5,200 by the second year. In 2015, Zone was named the Ocala, Marion County Business of the Year and had become so busy that it was time to open a second location. The main location, Zone East, spans more than 30,000 square feet. It offers childcare, group exercise classes, cycling, CrossFit, boxing, high intensity interval training (HIIT), free weights, cable weights and a cardio zone. A café serves smoothies and meal prep. It also has a cold plunge pool, steam room, sauna, hydromassage bed, relaxing locker rooms, a stretching zone and tanning. Zone West, on the second floor of Heath Brooke Plaza, occupies 10,000 square-feet and has a boutique look and feel. Programs and amenities include childcare, group exercise classes, HIIT classes, cardio, free weights and cable weights. Meeting people where they are and helping them with their health is the goal at


both locations. “What gets measured gets done,” is a favorite quote at Zone. “What this means for staff is that they put members on a trajectory to accomplish goals,” Ben explains. “When a new member joins, they give them all the tools they need to be victorious. They are met by a coach who does a body scan to get a baseline, then walked through the ins and outs of how to use the machines and they are given a plan based on their fitness goal and ability. Members stay engaged, and staff, who become like family, get excited when wins are celebrated. I just love it when a member doesn’t need a medication anymore because they are healthier.”

Ben its Distinguished Alumni Award. As Ben has long been a big supporter of law enforcement, he helped form the Chief Greg Graham Committee upon the untimely death of Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham. The committee now hosts an annual walkathon at Zone that has raised more than $250,000 for community projects. “It feels good to give back, so nearly any time we can get involved in an event or something in the community, we do it,” Ben notes. For actions such as these, he received the Community Service award for 2020-2021 given by the Rotary Club. One of Ben’s objectives when opening Zone was for the gym to be the best in Ocala. He and his team have been recognized nationally by MXM as one of the top clubs in their system. Zone Health & Fitness also recently was featured as the cover story in Club Industry magazine. Today there are more than 100 employees who proudly serve over 6,200 members at Zone Health & Fitness. “If you put others first and serve them, I believe you’ll find your way in whatever you’re doing and success will follow,” Ben offers.

On A Mission The Zone Mission is to strengthen people and in turn strengthen the community, Ben adds. He and Danielle have been involved with groups such as the Arnette House, Boys & Girls Club of Marion County, Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection, The Pearl Project and other organizations that help children and addicts. In 2019, Ben was chair for the American Heart Association’s local Heart Walk. As with so many others, the onset of the pandemic in 2020 proved to be a challenge in life and business, yet Ben pressed on. He fed first responders from the Zone café, provided opportunities for staff to stay on with pay or help them get other jobs, shared business-saving advice with other gyms around the country and even delivered supplies to shut-ins. In 2020, CF presented

The Marciano Family


524 South Pine Ave., Ocala

(352) 509-3133 ZONE WEST:

4414 SW College Road, Suite 1012, Ocala

(352) 414-4433 Zonehealthandfitness.com

A Season of Style Jill Paglia offers her tips to fill your holidays

with comfort, joy and a pinch of great style.

At left: portrait by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery. Above: image by Jill Paglia.

Anyone who knows me also knows that the holiday season, especially Christmas, is my favorite time of year. I go all out and savor every moment. In fact, I have always loved decorating and the festivities that come with the holidays. When I was a child, my mother used to let me decorate the entire inside of our house, so it’s probably only natural that I am still so passionate about it to this day. I wanted to offer you a few ideas that I hope will make your celebrations merry and bright. Whatever holidays you observe, whatever foods you serve or gifts you exchange, I hope this is a season filled with joy for you and yours! The Early Bird I like to get my shopping done early for the holidays so the only things left to pick up are any perishables I need for a meal. That way, you avoid the mad dash though the aisles, the crowds and the possibility of not being able to find everything on your list. And you know what I always say, prep everything you can ahead of time. You can clean, cut and freeze items you’ll be using for certain dishes so, when it comes time to cook, your ingredients are ready to go.

True Nature I love to use natural elements in my Thanksgiving décor, but rather than adopting the traditional oranges, browns, golds and burgundies of the season, I prefer to embrace a more neutral color palette. I usually design a centerpiece with white pumpkins and lots of soft greenery, such as seeded eucalyptus, and then I typically will layer some natural wood elements into the mix to create a casually elegant “harvest table” feeling. November ‘22


Time To Shine I love a theme party. From casual backyard bashes that celebrate the colors and flavors of the season to stylish soirées with everyone decked out for an elegant evening, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s Eve are great occasions to go all out. Go Long I have hosted parties that were all-day affairs filled with games, sports and multiple casual meals throughout the day, with easy-to-prepare-and-serve dishes like crockpot classics, a big batch of homemade chili and make-ahead casseroles. I’ll often add some grazing options, such as a charcuterie board, a warm artichoke dip with crusty bread or a baked brie in phyllo dough. You could also host a holiday potluck, which is a fun way to let everyone sign up to bring a dish and show off their culinary skills. You may also score some great new recipes in the process. A Helping HAND The holidays are hectic and there’s no reason to do it all yourself, so when one of your guests asks, “Can I do anything?” let them! People naturally want to help and don’t want to see you toiling away, so let them lend a hand. Give them something easy to do that will take a little off your plate. They can cut bread, fill the ice bucket or arrange desserts on a tray. They’ll feel good about contributing and you can focus on pulling everything else together. Give Thanks A friend of mine recently shared that his family always sets up an area with paper and pens when they gather for Thanksgiving. Guests can write thank you notes and either exchange them or read their notes aloud during the meal. It 32


At left: Portrait by Meagan Gumpert of Maven Photo + Film. Above: Jill’s harvest tablescape design, photograhed by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery.

also gives younger children a creativity station to draw pictures and contribute in their own way. Double Your Pleasure Around the holidays, I always make my Vanilla Wafer Cake, which makes a delicious dessert, but also a scrumptious breakfast coffee cake. It’s rich, moist and packed with coconut and pecans. The Vanilla Wafers add a great flavor, but if it wasn’t for the name, you would never know they were there. The cookies are finely crushed and used in place of the flour. There’s a reason it’s a classic and has been one of my go-to cake recipes for decades. Sparkle & Shine My porch is one of my favorite things to decorate and makes a stunning place for a photo opportunity. I say deck your house in your favorite theme, from delicate white twinkle lights to a traditional multicolored mix. Welcome your guests to your home with a show of your abundant holiday spirit. Winter Wonderland Over the years, I have gradually been upping my tree game and collecting themed ornaments. I currently have three Balsam Hill trees, one King of Christmas beauty and four others from Hobby Lobby. Yes, I have multiple trees and scatter them throughout the main rooms in my house to really indulge in the spirit of the season. I have a ball picking the themes for each room. My main tree is 12-feet-high and features a gold, silver, blue and teal color scheme. I also adorn it with sentimental framed picture ornaments that celebrate relatives who are no longer with us. My kitchen has a winter sea-themed tree with a white fur blanket as a tree skirt. My husband’s study has two trees, one is polar bear themed and one is decked out in Christopher Radko ornaments. My mom gave me all of her Radko ornaments, including some vintage ones from the 1960s, when she scaled down her holiday decorating. That tree will always hold a special place in my heart. I also have a Santa-themed tree that I surround with special boxes that look like pieces of art, and it sits beside a life-size Santa with ski poles. Experiment with what you love, maybe a sports or ballerina theme tree, for example. Is nature your thing? Deck out a tree with woodland ornaments, pinecones and natural accents. There’s nothing that says you have to confine your holiday decorating to one room. The more the merrier, I say! Bold Moves Mary Weaver, the owner of Floral Architecture, has been decorating homes for the holidays for more than 25 years. She offers everything from a complete seasonal design to unpacking and setting up your treasured holiday decorations and returning, after the holidays, to take everything back down. With her custom designs, she likes to think outside the box. She suggests, for example, embellishing a tree using only fresh flowers or a statement-making tree made out of dried Pampas grass, both of which have become very trendy. Another creative suggestion is creating an edible tablescape or centerpiece using seasonal fruits, veggies, nuts and florals. She says don’t be afraid to create a statement that your guests will talk about well after the holidays. November ‘22


All Together Now Do you collect snow globes, Santas, nutcrackers? Make an impact by displaying your collections together. Another sentimental touch I like is to display a group of family photos from Christmases past when my children were babies, to recent pictures of my grandchildren with Santa. I unify them by displaying them in silver or gold frames, but mixed metals can also help your space feel festive without having to resort to seasonal colors. Festive Finery Now is the time to use your fine china or Christmas-themed plates. Don’t be afraid to layer. Start with a table runner and multiple glass candleholders. I use flameless candles set on evening timers. In the middle of the table, create a beautiful display of magnolia stems and pinecones with miniature ornaments intertwined with fairy lights. Next, layer your place settings. I begin with a white placemat and add a velvet poinsettia placemat, then layer my dishes and finish with a napkin folded like a bow. I hang fresh wreaths in each window, facing the dining room, and accent them with silk magnolias, gilded in gold, to pay homage to our Southern heritage. Classic Comforts During the month of December, I stage a hot cocoa station with miniature marshmallows, sugar stirrers and mini chocolate chips next to my tea kettle. I also keep a S’mores box kit on hand that provides a fun activity for parents (or grandparents) and kids to do outside over a fire pit. Both of these have been a big hit with the young ones in our family. Raise A Cup This is the perfect time of year to indulge in family traditions and mix up a batch of festive libations that guests can help themselves to, from big-batch cocktails to homemade eggnog. We have a special Christmas Eve drink we prepare every year. The recipe was handed down from a beloved uncle. It is for an old-fashioned Swedish Glögg (red mulled wine), which is served warm and definitely warms your heart. I like to serve it in a crock pot on my bar, placed inside a large wreath. Sounds Of The Season From the time I hang my first ornament of the season, right through the big events, music fills my home and my heart. I create a special holiday playlist that I stream while I am decorating. A great soundtrack is also essential for a party. If you are lucky enough to have a piano, now is the time to really enjoy it. One year, I hired a young college student to play during our guests arrival and throughout dinner. This year, my husband is having a player installed on my antique Steinway baby grand. I am so looking forward to hearing it play my favorite Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Andy Williams and Mel Torme songs. It’s also where we gather for our annual Christmas sing-along. Savor The Moments No matter the decorations, the dishes or the details, be sure you take this special time to enjoy yourself with those nearest and dearest to your heart. What really matters most is not what’s on the table, but who is sitting around it with you. What’s important is the laughter, the stories we share and the memories we make. That’s the true spirit of the season and what makes our time together so special. 34


Dessert table detail photograhed by Lyn Larson of Mahal Imagery.

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Stephanie Brennan with Flash, and dogs Buzz and Buster

Second Acts The Final Furlong Thoroughbred Retirement program gives thoroughbred racehorses new homes and careers off the racetrack. By JoAnn Guidry | Photography by Bruce Ackerman


s a thoroughbred racehorse, Miss Dude’s career was short and, well, not stellar. She made 10 starts, notched one win, one second and banked $24,570. But thanks to Stephanie Brennan’s Ocala-based Final Furlong Thoroughbred Retirement program, Miss Dude was given the opportunity to have another career off the racetrack. Now known as Ermintrude, the 9-year-old mare is an eventing horse star, excelling in cross-country. “The great thing about thoroughbreds is that they

are very athletic horses that can succeed in various equine disciplines besides racing,” says Brennan, who founded Final Furlong in 2009 and has since re-homed more than 200 horses. “Just because they are bred to race doesn’t mean that’s all they can do or that they should be discarded after a racing career.” Daisy Trayford, who owns and operates New York-based Exmoor Eventing with her husband, Richard, agrees with that assessment wholeheartedly. November ‘22


Counterclockwise from top: Daisy Trayford and Ermintrude; Richard Trayford and Paddy, both courtesy of Daisy Trayford; Aurelius Loyal and Roach, courtesy of Aurelius Loyal.

“I’ve been around horses all of my life, including exercising thoroughbreds in Ocala, so I know firsthand about thoroughbreds,” says Trayford. “We’ve adopted eight from Final Furlong and have not been disappointed with any of them. Eventing horses have to compete in dressage, stadium jumping and cross-county over a three-day span. It takes a talented horse to do all three events. Ermintrude is a special horse and, if not for Final Furlong, she would’ve never had the chance to blossom as an eventing horse.” Another Final Furlong graduate in Trayford’s stable is Patriot Game, a 5-year-old gelding who is a half-brother to 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb. Patriot Game did not display the same talent as multimillionaire Orb on the racetrack, not winning a race and earning only $16,664 in five starts. But today, Paddy as he is now known, is thriving with Trayford. “Paddy loves foxhunting and, going forward, the plan is to develop him into an eventing horse as well,” says Trayford. “Final Furlong is just a fabulous program.” 38


Based at Niall and Stephanie Brennan’s 20-acre farm off scenic Highway 225-A in northwest Marion County, Final Furlong Thoroughbred Retirement is as far from the hustle bustle of the racetrack as can be. In fact, it’s also a whole lot less hectic than Niall Brennan Stables (NBS), which is the couple’s 160-acre training facility located a few miles from the home farm. NBS, a perennial leading consignor of 2-year-olds-in-training, has broken/trained and sold hundreds of outstanding racehorses. A past NBS graduate is Orb. In 2022, NBS sold 47 juveniles for a gross of more than $8.8 million. While the routine at NBS mirrors that of the racetrack, with horses going to and from the training track in the mornings, the Final Furlong home farm is an idyllic setting. There is an immediate sense of calm just driving onto the farm, replete with morethan-enough shade trees and lush green paddocks. “The first step toward a new life for horses we get off the track is a change of scenery and that works wonders for their minds,” says Brennan. “Here at the farm, the only thing they have to do is just be horses out grazing.”

Brennan contacts trainers and owners of horses Fulfilling A Need that she tracks or vice versa. It should be mentioned A native of Saskatoon, located in Saskatchewan, that racehorses race in furlongs, an eighth of a mile, Canada, Brennan was showing hunter/jumpers by hence the program’s name, meaning the horse’s the time she was 8. racing days are over. “I was your typical horse-crazy kid and just “When we first started Final Furlong, it was never grew up out of it. I kept right on showing almost always me reaching out to inquire about a straight through college,” notes Brennan, who has a horse to see if there was plan in place for after its degree in French and international relations. “But racing career,” explains Brennan. “But now that when I figured out that I basically had a useless we’ve been around for degree when it came to job a while and have a good opportunities, I had to find network, people reach a way to make money to out to us to either place support my horse showing. a horse or looking for a So, I started exercising horse. And I’m finding racehorses at the racetrack more people who have an to earn enough money to buy exit plan for a racehorse at a good show horse. That’s the end of its career.” how I became involved with The owners of the thoroughbred racing.” horses put into the Brennan moved to program are asked Lexington, Kentucky, to to make a one-time work on a thoroughbred donation to Final Furlong farm, where she broke equivalent to a month’s yearlings for a while before going back to the racetrack — Stephanie Brennan board on the racetrack. Final Furlong then in Canada. After getting assumes ownership and hurt while exercising a will handle expenses racehorse, she moved back moving forward. to Lexington. “We are very fortunate “While I had that that many vanning downtime, I decided to get companies, veterinarians, another degree; one that farriers, equine dentists would be more useful,” and others in the horse says Brennan with a small industry are very smile. “I got a degree in supportive of the Final business administration Furlong program,” shares and marketing. Then I Brennan. “We couldn’t moved to Ocala in 1998 do it without all of that and started working for support that is so very Niall. Three years later, we much appreciated.” got married.” Stephanie Brennan with Leroy Shortly after, she began Starting Anew showing horses again. When a horse arrives at Final Furlong, it is assessed “Niall’s daughter Kristin wanted to show, so it by a veterinarian for health and soundness issues. If became something we did together for almost 15 necessary, a treatment plan is put in place. years,” shares Brennan, who is involved in every “From there, the horse will begin what we call a aspect of NBS. “Showing again reminded me how ‘let down’ process where nothing is expected of it but difficult it is for good riders with limited income to be a horse. Horses spend a minimum of 60 days at to find good horses. I realized that just by keeping our farm,” says Brennan. “Before the horse is offered track of horses that we had sold, there was a whole for re-homing, it must meet a four point criteria: Be untapped supply of horses that could be re-homed. relaxed, physically sound, carrying good condition And that led to establishing Final Furlong in 2009.” that is easy to maintain and be safe to handle. Horses A 501(c)(3) charity, Final Furlong Thoroughbred who do not meet that criteria become what we call a Retirement was founded to focus on re-homing NBS ‘lifer.’ We have 15 lifers at NBS now.” graduates and those of NBS clients once their racing Brennan notes that the horses do not receive any careers are over. But it has evolved to also re-homing training toward their new careers at Final Furlong. horses who, for various reasons, never raced.

Before the horse is offered for re-homing, it must meet a four point criteria: Be relaxed, physically sound, carrying good condition that is easy to maintain and be safe to handle.

November ‘22


Stephanie Brennan with Flash

Brennan has not grown “We did try to do that tired of the mission. In at first, but it’s just too fact, she has become labor intensive,” she says. even more involved in “And it’s best that the new thoroughbred retirement. owner starts with a clean Earlier this year, she was slate toward making that elected to the board of the horse be what they want.” national Thoroughbred A case in point is Retirement Foundation Cluemaster, an unraced (TRF), which places 5-year-old gelding — Stephanie Brennan retired racehorses at who was adopted by a system of prisons across the country, where professional equestrian performer Aurelius Loyal. they live out their lives while being part of equine Renamed Roach, the gelding now performs at educational programs for inmates. The Ocala-based circus-styled events such as this year’s Fantasia at Lowell Correctional Institute (LCI) is the base for Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio. the TRF Second Chances Farm, which serves as a “Roach is the first thoroughbred that I’ve home for retired Florida-bred racehorses and as a worked with and he has completely surpassed my rehabilitation center for LCI’s women inmates. An expectations,” Loyal says. “He’s such a happy and equine care technology vocational program provides natural performer.” While donations to the Final Furlong program are the women with hands-on working experience with the horses. Once released from prison, many of the always appreciated from prospective owners, there is women go on to work in the thoroughbred industry. no adoption fee. But there is a strict vetting process. “Becoming a TRF board member meshes well with “I do a thorough interview with the person to find out if he or she is a good match for a horse,” Brennan the Final Furlong mission. We have several employees at NBS who are graduates of the Second Chances notes. “I have to have a letter of recommendation Farm,” Brennan shares. “As for Final Furlong, it from their regular veterinarian and farrier, and see continues to be very gratifying to re-home these horses where the horse will reside. If a horse turns out not and hear the great stories of their new lives like to be a good match for a person, it can be returned to us. In fact, we want it returned to us. We have had Ermintrude, Paddy and Roach.” horses returned and then been successful in finding To learn more about the Final Furlong them a new home.” Thoroughbred Retirement program, email Even after a dozen years running the Final stephanie@niallbrennan.com Furlong Thoroughbred Retirement program,

The first step toward a new life for horses we get off the track is a change of scenery and that works wonders for their minds.



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Publisher’s Picks

gift guide Our holiday gift guide offers great finds to make life cozier, tastier, more luxurious and a bit more fun.

By Jennifer Hunt Murty 42



Handcrafted Camphor Wood Vessel Ocala-based retired US Navy admiral Bill Leigher hand crafts distinctive pieces from wood, including bowls, platters, tea light holders and wine bottle stoppers. This item $85 etsy.com/ shop/2StarTurnings




Handpainted Ornament Painted by a local artist, each ornament is absolutely unique. $23 each at Grumbles House Dunellon. dunnellonfloridaantiques.com

4 3

HiEnd Accents Fair Isle Knit Throw This classic knit throw, in warm shades of cream and taupe, makes a stylish and cozy gift. $93.99 at Boot Barn. bootbarn.com

Beautiful Boards Cookbook This is filled with simple recipes and step-by-step tips for recreating beautiful boards. $24.99 yourheartsdesiregifts.com

Mud Pie Charcuterie Serving Board Made of beautiful mango wood with a helpful guide engraved on the surface, it has a genuine leather hanging loop. $48 at Dillard’s. dillards.com


Teaspressa Luxe Cubes Craft instant artisan lattes or sparkling cocktails with these fun drink cubes, starting at $9 from Gallery on Magnolia. November ‘22



Giving Shawl We all need a little comfort now and then, and this super soft shawl with two hidden inside pockets is a thoughful item for any ladies in your life who need a bit of TLC. $54.99 at Your Heart’s Desire. yourheartsdesiregifts.com



Classic Diamond Tennis Bangle Dazzle that special lady in your life with this stunning bezel-set, 1 carat weight diamond bangle, set in 14 karat yellow gold. $3,700 at Gause & Son Jewelers. gauseandsonjewelers.com


Willow Lounge Pajama Pants These luxurious cropped lounge pants with a drawstring closure (one size fits most) designed by One Hundred Stars are a perfect pajama pant or dayto-night staple. $79.99 at Gallery on Magnolia.



Beautiful Notecards These gorgeous notecards by artist Amanda Klein combine floral motifs with various animals in beautiful watercolor designs. $24 per pack of 8 at Grumbles House Dunellon. dunnellonfloridaantiques.com 44


Longchamp Box-Trot Crossbody Bag Elegant yet casual, structured yet flexible, this bag stands out with its modern sophistication and nod to all things equestrian. It has an adjustable crossbody strap. $590 at Agapanthus. shopagapanthus.com


Charcoal Rose Body Wash Get all the benefits of activated charcoal in this great body wash from Archipelago Botanicals that removes toxins and leaves your skin feeling refreshed and hydrated. The scent of fresh roses makes it one of my favorite things! $22 at Agapanthus. shopagapanthus.com

Farmhouse Fresh Honey Heel Glaze A true tonic for tired feet and toes. $26 at Your Heart’s Desire. yourheartsdesiregifts.com


Frye “Logan” Overnight Leather Duffel Sturdy yet sophisiticated, this handsome bag is sure to make any guy feel like an adventurer. $598 dillards.com



Brackish Cufflinks Greiner’s Clothing for Men of Ocala stocks some truly distinctive items like these cufflinks, which are handcrafted in Charleston, SC. Starting at $145.


Ariat Tri-Fold Leather Wallet Heavy-duty stitching makes this wallet tough, with genuine top-grain leather for a soft feel. $45 at Boot Barn. bootbarn.com



Moonshine Bars Delicious treats with a fun kick, sure to make him smile. $14 at Gallery on Magnolia.



Jack Black Beard Oil This is a super-hydrating beard oil, formulated with 100 percent essential oils, that conditions facial hair and nourishes the skin underneath. $26 at Greiner’s Clothing for Men of Ocala.

Ranger Station Whiskey Glass Candles Rich and earthy scents evoke his favorite cocktail enjoyed in a cozy leather chair. Poured and packaged by hand in Nashville, Tennessee, they double as whiskey glasses once they’re done being burned. $39 rangerstation.co

Caswell-Massey Heritage Presidential Soap Set This fun gift gives guys a chance to indulge in the favorite scents of three American presidents, from Washington, who favored the aroma of “Number Six” and Eisenhower who stocked the White House with the almond soap to JFK, who was a fan of the sporty “Jockey Club” scent. $29 shopagapanthus.com

November ‘22


Through December 11

BLOW UP II: Inflatable Contemporary Art

Appleton Museum, Artspace and Store

Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd. | AppletonMuseum.org “BLOW UP II: Inflatable Contemporary Art” was organized by Carrie Lederer, Curator of Exhibitions, Bedford Gallery, Lesher Center for the Arts, Walnut Creek, CA. Artwork by (left-right): Lizabeth Rossof and Sharon Engelstein.


-an equal opportunity college-

Front Street in Georgetown: Photo courtesy of Chris Rogers/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and SC Hammock Coast.

The Hammock Coast With its outdoor activities, cultural events and laid-back beach vibe, Georgetown County in South Carolina is a charming and relaxing destination. By Belea T. Keeney


ith its casual vibe, 150+ restaurants, a restored downtown and world-renowned gardens and wildlife parks, Georgetown County in South Carolina—the Hammock Coast— has a lot to offer. Just under seven hours from the Ocala area, it’s about halfway between Charleston and Myrtle Beach, and boasts amazing choices for entertainment and relaxation. For water lovers, there are kayak rentals and boat tours. For landlubbers, enjoy lush botanical gardens, birdwatching opportunities and a 17-mile paved bike trail. For shoppers, the Georgetown downtown has charming shops and restaurants, and several shopping areas cater to vacationers and those who love the beachy life. Located at the meeting place of four rivers, Georgetown proper is surrounded by water: Winyah Bay and the Black, Pee Dee, Waccamaw and Sampit rivers. It’s the third oldest town in South Carolina, behind Charleston and Beaufort. Half the nation’s rice once was grown

in Georgetown County, which created enormous wealth—and accompanying architectural additions—before crop production died out in the early 20th century. Downtown Georgetown The Hammock Coast has several coastal communities: Georgetown, which is the county seat; Pawleys Island, a barrier island known as the oldest beach resort on the East Coast; and Litchfield Beach, Murrells Inlet and Garden City, all hugging US 17. The communities have multiple beach access points. Even in high summer, the Hammock Coast is markedly different from the hubbub of Myrtle Beach to the north. “We’re very different than both of our more commercial neighbors,” says Mark Stevens, director of tourism development at the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce. “The beach communities of South Carolina’s Hammock Coast and historic Georgetown are quiet, familyfriendly places that have welcomed discerning



a few outside. Fried chicken is served daily, with pork chops and spareribs on offer, all served up in a nostalgic atmosphere that will remind you, perhaps, of your own aunt’s old-fashioned cooking. The most unique shop downtown is the Purr & Pour Cat Café. Yes, there are adoptable cats roaming all over the storefront, lounging in the west windows when the afternoon sun warms up the windowsill and just generally catting around in their charming feline way. If you’re allergic or would rather not hang out with the kitties, there’s a no-cat-zone gift shop with tables where you can watch the feline festivities from behind a glass wall. “Purr & Pour is revolutionizing the cat adoption process in Georgetown County by fostering shelter cats in a comfortable, home-like storefront,” says founder Patricia Devine-Harms. “We enrich the lives of cats and humans by providing a safe space to build positive connections and increase adoptions.” There are usually 12 to15 cats onsite and several take advantage of the giant “hamster wheel” exercise toy, running flat

Top, Fighting Stallions. Left, Pegasus. Photos courtesy of Brookgreen Gardens. Right photo courtesy of Patricia Devine-Harms.

visitors since the 1700s. We don’t have the crowds of either Myrtle Beach or Charleston, but we do have lots of charm and Southern hospitality.” In Georgetown’s downtown area, step out of your car and the enticing aromas from the restaurants will have you on the move and the sound of seagulls in the harbor will remind you of the area’s maritime origins. Nestled in the Sampit River harbor, the downtown Harborwalk features three blocks of dockside shops and restaurants. Both working river boats and private craft dock there. Street-side, Georgetown offers a lively variety of stores and restaurants. You can shop at Waterfront Books, which has new and used tomes. Bluebird Vintage focuses on mid-century and modern home furnishings, art and accessories, and has a retro vibe. Muddy Bay Outfitters carries a range of outdoor apparel and shoes for men and women. Check out The Ship’s Booty for nautically themed items, including mermaid décor. Food choices abound, from the casual dinerstyle Thomas Cafe to Southern coastal dining at The River Room and soul food and Southern cooking at Aunny’s Country Kitchen. Aunny’s is the most colloquial of the dining options, and cozy, with fewer than a dozen tables inside and

Bike trail on Pawleys Island: Photo courtesy of Chris Rogers/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and SC Hammock Coast.

out within the rotating circle. One cat has learned he can take a running leap into a plastic kiddie pool and send it skidding across the tile floor while he sits calmly inside and enjoys the ride. The café also offers respite and educational outings for veterans groups, school tours and nonprofits. If you’re a museum lover, there are several nearby. The Kaminski House Museum is a preserved example of Georgian architecture, a Lowcountry “single house” style with docents managing tours. The Rice Museum, naturally, exhibits all aspects of rice cultivation in the county and includes the Clocktower/Old Market and Kaminski Hardware buildings, both dating from 1842. Swing Up the Coast Head north up US 17 toward Pawleys Island to find one of the largest beach access areas in the county. Shopping areas include Hammock Shops Village and Island Shops, with gifts, beach items and local crafts. Up the road is Litchfield Beach. At its north end is the start of the “Bike the Neck” paved trail that extends 17 miles up to Murrells Inlet. You can park at five locations along US 17, access the trail and ride to your heart’s content. Bring your own bike or rent from Cyclopedia in Litchfield Landings on Pawleys Island. Further north, two impressive outdoor options beckon—one more feral and natural, the other more sculpted and tame. Both are spectacular. Near Murrells Inlet is the Huntington Beach State Park on the ocean side and Brookgreen Gardens on the land side. Huntington Beach State Park boasts more than 121 acres of low country ecosystems and is worldrenowned for birdwatching. Camping is an option and the park is dog friendly. Brookgreen Gardens in Murrell’s Inlet is a 9,000+ acre botanical garden that includes the Low Country Zoo. The garden is said to contain the largest and most comprehensive collection of American figurative sculpture in the country. The sculptures range from small and moveable to several that are large and imposing. “Pegasus,” “Dionysus” and “Don Quixote” are

three stellar works. The impressive “Fighting Stallions” greets visitors and gives you a jolt of drama of the unique sights to come. Admission tickets last for seven days. The hidden gem in this attraction? The “Trail Beyond the Garden Wall” that eases beyond the manicured gardens of the main section and has a viewing deck and labyrinth garden on its loop. There are two restaurants on site, offering light/ lunch fare. Lauren Joseph, director of marketing at Brookgreen, says she enjoys attending the Nights of a Thousand Candles celebration, held Thanksgiving weekend through early January. “It’s our biggest event and also my favorite event of our year,” she shares. “It’s become a wonderful tradition for families and friends to come and experience each year. It’s also fun because we always have a lot of marriage proposals happen every year and the entire crowd gets into the excitement of those events.” For the celebration, the gardens are illuminated with more than 2,700 candles and millions of sparkling lights. Starting near dusk, you can see the gardens in a new way, listen to holiday music and sip warm cider. “South Carolina’s Hammock Coast is one of the most beautiful regions in the country,” Stevens asserts. “It’s made up of pristine beaches, stunning tidal marshes and rivers, and vast areas of preserved forests. As our moniker implies, our area is a place known for relaxation and rejuvenation.” To learn more, go to HammockCoastSC.com November ‘22


Ocali Country Days at the Silver River Museum

November 12-13 9am-4pm

A weekend festival at the Silver Springs State Park highlighting Florida life in the 1800s: • Pioneer cabin tours • Craft demonstrations • Sugar cane syrup production • Tram tours through state park • Silver River Museum scavenger hunts • Food • Live Music • Vendors

Admission $8.00 per person (children 5 and under free)

(352) 236-5401


1445 Northeast 58th Avenue, Ocala, FL



Exploring Our History The Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center is a program of Marion County Public Schools. The Pioneer Village at the center has several examples of early Florida architecture, which will be showcased during the annual Ocali Country Days festival, when our rich history comes to life. Photo by Bruce Ackerman Pictured from left, Marion County Public Schools employee Elvin Hache and Scott Mitchell, director of the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center.


Pioneer Cabins Through the Years By Scott Mitchell | Photography by Bruce Ackerman


rchitectural styles in Florida are as diverse as the ethnic groups and nationalities who have settled here. Traveling around the state, we encounter art deco, Mediterranean revival, craftsman, modern and many other styles of architecture. If one looks back to the early 1800s, into the infancy of Florida as a new U.S. Territory, that architectural diversity is predated with simple, functional cabins. If you are cutting the trees to build your home by hand, large and fancy accommodations are not at the top of your list. The basic qualities could be Dee Dee Ritch and Robert Wilson with Tember in the MacIvey Cabin summarized as well-built, dry, cool in summer and warm in winter. As families grew and lumber, glass windows and metal roofing. prospered, the design and size of their homes The Silver River Museum’s Pioneer Village changed, but always remained functional. includes several examples of authentic and replica A first cabin built by a new arrival would pioneer homes that date from the 1830s to the typically be simple and small. As years passed, early 1900s. additions may have been added or larger homes constructed. Separate kitchen buildings and Barefoot Willy’s Cabin outhouses would be replaced by indoor facilities. Hand-hewn logs, simple shutters and wood This modest “single pen” cabin is replica of a shingle roofs may have been changed to sawn small pioneer home dating to the 1830s. During the Florida Territorial Period (18211845), small cabins were built using round or hewn pine logs and hand-split wooden shake shingles. The logs cut to clear farm fields were often used to build the cabin. A small loft provides sleeping space and meals can be cooked over a small indoor hearth, or outdoors. A primitive “mud cat” fireplace and chimney is built from wood and clay, and designed to be pulled away from the house in case of fire. This cabin was built by a team led by the very talented (and often barefooted) craftsman Willy the Losen.

MacIvey Cabin

This home, named after the fictional MacIvey family that homesteaded the Big Scrub in the Barefoot Willy’s Cabin


Godwin House

book The Land Remembered, by Patrick Smith, is constructed with authentic hand-hewn logs dating to the mid-1800s. The 1860s-style house includes a large loft and brick cooking hearth to accommodate a growing family. This is a good example of a larger second home built by a family that had more resources. Typical outbuildings would have included a corn crib, barn, outhouse and animal pens. The construction of this home was made possible with the support of the Felburn Foundation.

Hinton House

The Hinton House is an authentic structure built by J. L. Hinton near the Ocklawaha River in the 1870s. It was moved and added to around 1900 and was donated by the MacAteer Family and relocated to the Silver River Museum grounds in 2000. The original house likely had a wood shingle roof and separate kitchen building. An indoor kitchen was added later. Sawn lumber, the brick chimney, glass windows and the indoor kitchen would have made this a luxurious building it its day. The house is decorated to portray a 1930s rural farmstead.

This home is a replica of the simple house built around 1890 in what is now the Ocala National Forest, in which builder Freeman Godwin was raised. It has rough sawn pine, a metal roof and is heated by a wood-burning stove. A “dog-trot,” or breezeway, connects a separate kitchen, protecting the main house from fire and the heat of the wood-burning stove. Wooden shutters cover open windows and MacIvey Cabin mosquito netting over beds provides protection from insects. Godwin was instrumental in establishing the Pioneer Village. His sugar cane kettle and mill are located behind this house and are still used to make cane syrup every fall. You can see all of these historic houses during the Ocali Country Days Festival on November 12th and 13th. Scott Mitchell is a field archaeologist, scientific illustrator and director of the Silver River Museum & Environmental Education Center, located at 1445 NE 58th Ave., Ocala, inside the Silver River State Park. To learn more, go to silverrivermuseum.com.

Godwin House

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Explosive Memories By Dave Schlenker | Illustration by David Vallejo


oys,” Larry said from his bunk, “I think we bought the farm on this one.” Angry, soused frat boys were pounding on our dorm room door like torch-waving villagers clamoring for a witch still warm from the spell. They were out for blood. Larry, Mark and I hid in our respective beds, lights off, as if the mob would eventually think the trio who shot the bottle rocket at them had dissipated into the quiet darkness. Nothing to see here. More Jägermeister? Had those apes snagged us, we would have been pounded like Popeye during a spinach shortage. We were sophomores at the University of Central Florida. Larry and Mark were marching band members, and I was a wanna-be band member who held cymbals when needed. There were nerdier people on campus, sure, but we claimed a healthy market share. Mark and I were roommates thanks to the UCF housing pairing system—“Look! Band geeks! Throw them in Seminole Hall.” Larry joined us later, after waking up to his roommate standing over him with a knife and a grin. It was finals week when we (Mark, actually) launched the bottle rocket from the crack under the door. Larry, Mark and I were trying to study, but the frat party spilled into the hall outside our door. Eventually, Mark held up recently acquired bottle rockets and suggested we end this. The bottle rocket launched with a satisfying “swisssssssss” followed by an echoing crack. The frat boys stopped to assess damage (there was

none) and noticed the trail of smoke leading to our room. The dorm’s resident advisor eventually entered our room with his own key and, basically, told us not to shoot bottle rockets at people. The ruckus quelled. And then we laughed. Hard. This is one of many stories Larry and I—35 years later—recalled this summer in Cleveland, where I attended his retirement ceremony from the U.S. Coast Guard. At 54, with orthopedic shoes, I have vowed to reconnect with good people. When Larry invited me to the ceremony—after decades of not seeing him—I jumped. Larry and Mark occupy a special place for me not only because they were roommates with explosives, but because they were—and are— two of the nicest humans I’ve even known. I flew to Cleveland with partial facial paralysis thanks to a recent bout with shingles. The photos of the two of us—the right side of my face unable to smile—do not reveal how happy I was to see Larry. How proud I was of him, not just from his decades of USCG service, but also as a beloved family man who, like me, had a daughter heading to another state to make dad proud. My visit with Larry and his family was one of 2022’s highlights. We are planning a spring family getaway that will include Mark and his family. Make a point to reconnect with good people. Larry is the same old Larry—funny, humble, a great storyteller. Same with Mark. Seek out old friends. Visit, have a beer, savor and revel in explosive memories. November ‘22



Being a caregiver takes a special kind of commitment. We know your strength is super, but you’re still human.

F I N D S U P P O R T F O R Y O U R S T R E N G T H.

A A R P. O R G / C A R E G I V I N G 1 - 8 7 7 - 3 3 3 - 5 8 8 5

5 Good Conversation It stimulates the mind and gives me comfort. I think I’m the last person in the world who enjoys a good long chat on the phone!


Great Coffee & a Great Cause I can’t function without my coffee and love the blend from Dignity Roasters, a local a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to helping those in need earn what they need. Order it by the bag or stop by their new café. (dignityroasters.com)

Nick Steele



Fresh Ideas My work allows me a daily opportunity to do what I love best: indulge my creativity, learn something new and tell great stories.


Nick is a journalist and creative consultant who is a regular contributor to multiple media outlets, including Ocala Style. In his off-hours, he enjoys volunteering, hiking Paynes Prairie and taking off on travel adventures.


Hot Showers, Handmade Soap & Plush Towels There’s nothing better than starting and ending the day with the comforts of Lauren Ralph Lauren Sanders Quick Dry Antimicrobial Bath Sheets and handmade soaps like Eucalyptus & Spearmint or Black Raspberry Vanilla from Oneness Essentials. (onenesssoapbiz.com) Kindness and Empathy It seems pretty simple, right? But it’s worth saying, especially when there is so much anger, divisiveness and casually unkind behavior in the world. A real smile, a sincere gesture, an open heart and an attempt at understanding each other are so incredibly important. People who are kind and empathetic are more satisfied with their lives and have better physical and mental health and stronger relationships.


Music In all its wonderful life-affirming iterations!


My Instagram Feed From new pieces by my favorite artists and posts from faraway friends to funny cat videos, I need my daily fix.


Thrift Store Finds

I get a charge discovering some unique items like a piece of handmade pottery, which I collect.

Discover the unsearchable Discover the forest

Find a trail near you at DiscoverTheForest.org

Single Malt vs. Blended Scotch What’s the difference, you ask? Allow us to explain. By Nick Wineriter


rder a scotch and water in any pub and you will more than likely receive a blended whisky. But the true connoisseur will ask for a single malt scotch, neat, or with a dram or two of water. For most scotch drinkers, single malts are the superiors of all scotch whiskies. A simple explanation for a complicated subject is that all scotches are whisky but not all whiskies

are scotch. In short, scotch is a whisky that comes from Scotland. Each region of Scotland produces its own scotch, and each scotch has its own distinctive flavor and character that is unique to that region. Single malts are distilled from a mixture of water, yeast and peat-malted barley. A bottle of single malt scotch will always come from a single distillery.

Blended scotches combine a single malt with grain whiskies (barley, corn and malted barley). Most blended scotches come from various distilleries and contain about 35 to 50 percent single malt scotch. A single malt’s distinctive flavors and attributes basically come about from each distiller’s unique combination of barley, water and peat. Every distillery has its own water source and supply of barley. During the malting process, peat is added to the fire, which results in the smoky flavor. Water sources contain different amounts of peat, granite and heather, which helps give each single malt its own uniqueness and flavor. There are five basic steps in the making of single malts: malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation and maturation. Rather than a discourse on how all this happens, let’s jump ahead to bottling. At the end of the process, the distilled spirit is transferred into oak casks for proper maturation. The alcohol level at this point is about 120 proof (60 percent alcohol), but through the process of oxidation the alcohol content is considerably lowered. And, before bottling, most single malts are diluted with water to lower the alcohol content to an even more palatable level, which is usually at 86 proof (43 percent). While some casks are bourbon-cured, some of the finest single malts come from sherry-cured casks. Matured scotch reaches its fullest potential in about 12 years. There are four main regions of Scotland that produce single malts: the Highlands, Lowlands, Speyside and Islay-Campbeltown areas. Each region produces its own distinctive f lavors and characteristics.

The Highland malts, such as Glenmorangie, Clynelish and Pulteney, have a richer, flowery scent and flavor compared to the Lowland malts. Glenmorangie is one of the more popular Highland malts produced today. The fairer Lowland malts are considerably lighter in f lavor and appearance and are generally used for blends. Some examples of these lighter scotches include Rosebank, Glenkinchie and Bladnoch. The smokiest, heaviest, full-bodied single malts, such as Bunnahubhain, Laphroig and Bowmore, hail from the IslayCampbeltown region. Other than Laphroig, these malts are somewhat rare and are often difficult to find in the United States. Finally, we have the Speyside malts, which were once considered part of the Highland malts. Many scotch connoisseurs consider these the aristocrats of single malts. This region of Scotland produces some of the world’s finest scotch whisky. The most popular and well-known Speyside malts are Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and The Macallan. The Macallan is aged in Oloroso sherry casks for 12, 18 or 25 years. It has a slight vanilla scent and leaves a pleasant aftertaste. Paul James, owner — Paul James of James Two Brothers Distillers in Ocala, makes a single malt, but he cannot, by law, call it scotch. To legally call it scotch, it has to be distilled and bottled in Scotland. “The real tell that exclusivity is the key ingredient comes out in the restriction of naming. That scotch is only from Scotland says it all,” James explains.

The real tell that exclusivity is the key ingredient comes out in the restriction of naming. That scotch is only from Scotland says it all.

Having worked in the hospitality industry for a number of years as a bartender, I believe that to truly appreciate a great single malt it should be savored in a snifter or similar type of glassware, preferably neat, or with just a dash of spring water, which helps bring out the bouquet. Before rolling the scotch around in your mouth, sniff the bouquet and take in all of its various scents, then sit back and enjoy. “It is finally the taste and the aroma that determine what is good,” offers James. “And while dogmatic repetition and methodologies may yield consistent results, it is the care and the slight variations that occur in small batches of single malt that characterize the liberated and purely natural malted grain f lavors.” Savoring single malt scotch whisky can be a rich and rewarding experience—especially when shared with good food and good friends. As we approach the holidays, keep your favorite scotch drinker in mind and surprise him or her with a really great bottle.




Shop ‘til Your Leaves Drop If holiday shopping is on your mind, check out these local garden and plant stores for inspiration. By Belea T. Keeney Illustration by Jordan Shapot


Photo by John Jernigan

or the plant lovers on your holiday shopping list, there are delightful garden and plant shops in our area that offer specialty plant breeds, funky and locally crafted yard décor, and all kinds of supplies for gardening needs. Kenny’s Place Nursery is a unique destination because it supports a program for disabled adults. The mission statement reads: “To create a positive, caring and accepting environment for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Kenny’s Place serves the intellectually disabled adults of Marion County. We offer our members various skills training in horticulture, laundry, cooking, arts and crafts.” Kenny’s Place doesn’t charge members a fee and the educational services are offered free of charge. Nursery sales help support the programs and provide vocational training. The nursery offers landscape plants, houseplants, annuals and perennials in a charming, rusticfeeling shop.

Open 8am to 4pm MondaySaturday at 7677 SE 41st Court, Ocala. Call (352) 867-1213 or go to kennysplacemarion.com Tower Hill Nursery was started mid-COVID-19 in 2021 and bills itself as “Ocala’s Hometown Nursery.” Owner Ryan Mims has years of experience in landscaping and the shop boasts vegetables, flowers, landscape plants and trees. The nursery offers full-service landscape design and installation, including hardscapes like pavers, ponds and waterfalls. Hometown service combined with expertise will get your project off to a solid start. Wander the 15 acres of plants and get inspired. Open 9 am to 3pm Thursday-Saturday at 1712 NE 36th Ave., Ocala. Call (352) 216-4263 or find them at FB.com/ towerhillnurseryocala


Bob Wines Camellia Gardens & Nursery is a specialty garden store that has expanded beyond camellias to offer more general landscape offerings, such as trees, shrubs, houseplants and annuals. A covered greenhouse holds the more tropical houseplants and yard décor items. Located in a residential area, the family’s former home is on the property. With five acres of plant choices, and a family history of camellia cultivation, the nursery offers personal service and advice and offers weekly specials. Open 9am to 4pm Monday-Friday and 9am to 3pm Saturday at 2610 SE 38th St., Ocala. Call (352) 629-5766 of go to bobwinescamelliagardens.net McGovern’s Landscape Nursery is owned by fifth-generation Marion County residents with the experience to help you with our sometimes challenging environment. (Where else can it be 75 degrees in the afternoon and 28 at night?) The nursery offers annuals, perennials, fruit trees, landscape shrubs and trees, along with

design and installation services. They also create their own potting soil and sell worm castings. Open 8am to 4pm Tuesday-Saturday at 7315 North Highway 441, Ocala. Call (352) 342-3804 or visit mlnursery.com Grumbles House Antiques & Garden Shop is a boutique and garden shop and that combination, plus its funky building in the heart of Dunnellon, makes it a destination. The boutique offers handcrafted wares by local artists, including jewelry, clothing, home décor, lighting, furniture and consignment items. The garden shop offers plants and yard décor, including fountains, birdbaths and gnomes. The venue, at 20799 Walnut St., Dunnellon. hosts monthly workshops with Master Gardeners, plus Maker’s Market days with artist vendors, entertainment and food. Nursery hours are 10am to 5pm MondaySaturday and 11am-3pm Sunday. The boutique is open 11am to 5pm MondaySaturday and 11am-3pm Sunday. Learn more at dunnellonfloridaantiques.com The Peacock Cottage is one of the county’s premier plant stores and owners Laura and Frank Perdomo offer a wealth of knowledge and expertise, along with a diverse selection of houseplants such as ferns, orchids and air plants, and local art. The store specializes in African violets and sells Dandy Pots, the unique (and necessary) watering system that avoids wetting the plant’s leaves. The cottage also offers a variety of houseplants, pots, garden décor, fairy gardens and more. Open 11am to 6pm Tuesday-Saturday at 3243 E Silver Springs Blvd., Ocala. Call (352) 624-0116 or go to dandypot.com A native Floridian and lifelong gardener, Belea spends her time off fostering cats and collecting caladiums. You can send gardening questions or column suggestions to her at belea@magnoliamediaco.com

Photo by Bruce Ackerman

The Yard Stop calls itself the “lawn and garden superstore” and it’s one of the larger shops in the area, with a full-service landscape operation in addition to a good selection of plant materials. The venue offers bulk mulch, compost and stones. A covered pavilion has a selection of annuals, perennials and shrubs, along with pots, statues, fountains, flags and more yard décor. They also serve professional landscapers and sell a wide variety of yard care equipment. Open 7am to 5pm Monday-Friday and 8am to 4pm Saturday at 4160 State Road 40, Ocala. Call (352) 368-1005 or visit yardstopinc.com

Every Minute Matters Know where to go in an emergency.

From stopping a heart attack in its track to treating a stroke at the first sign of symptoms, our team is ready for every emergency. And, with three locations in Marion County, AdventHealth makes it convenient to access expert emergency care 24/7. So when minutes matter most, you never have to delay getting the care that can save your or your loved one’s life.

EMERGENCY CARE 24/7 AdventHealth Belleview ER* 6006 SE Abshier Blvd. Belleview, FL 34420

AdventHealth Ocala 1500 SW 1st Ave. Ocala, FL 34471

AdventHealth TimberRidge ER*

To find an AdventHealth ER near you, visit TheERExperts.com * This emergency department is part of AdventHealth Ocala . This is not an urgent care center. Its services and care are billed at hospital emergency department rates.

9521 SW State Road 200 Ocala, FL 34481

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