Saturday, January 24, 2015

Border Impact

I made an appointment Friday to get my hair cut and Carmen did a great job.  I have used her while here for several years.  It was so windy, there was no sense having it styled.  So it was just blown dry with a brush and that's all.  She said her business is down, many folks have not returned.

When Ted picked me up we headed west to La Joya to El Rancho Charco, a beautiful venue on the Rio Grande River.  I have carried an ad around for about three years advertising wagon rides, exotic animals, waterfalls, dance bands and a restaurant.  There is going to be an outing there for the folks of Retama but it is scheduled for after we leave.  I think one Sunday we will go there with Eileen and Tom.

In the evening we attended a production right from Branson, A Tribute to George Strait.  The couple presenting and singing were terrific and the history and life of George Strait was so interesting.  A short stint by an impersonator who could mimic anyone was a bonus.  I am going to find out where he is performing because he can talk like Gomer Pyle and sing like Elvis.  We had an enjoyable evening.

Saturday we headed to the flea market to pick up a few things we knew we needed.  These included a card holder for Carol, parsley flakes in a larger bottle than available in stores, greeting cards, wild rice from Minnesota, oranges and grapefruits.  About 1/3 of the produce vendors are missing and several vendors we frequented are gone.  

Afterwards we went to Gonzales Burgers since we hadn't stopped there on Thursday.  Best burgers ever!  We sat with a couple from Chicago and had a nice visit.  They are taking their motorhome to Houston 3/1 and taking the same cruise twice because 7 days is too short!  

I was developing a headache so I came home to lie down and we decided to go to church in the morning.  After about two hours I felt better and we went next door to play Card Bingo.  Unfortunately neither of us won.

Morning church was as crowded as evening church.  Fr. Roy gave his usual interesting homily but we had a different music group.  However, we were treated to Clay Walker's song I Want To Live, Laugh and Love.  There is always a cowboy song for the week's message as far as Fr. Roy is concerned.

When we got home Ted picked up Don and met Dave at the Skeet Club to shoot.   When he came back we went to the grocery and then over to check out Pepe's on the River.  The first 5 years we came here we loved going to Pepe's for $10 all-you-can eat fish or shrimp, $10 pitchers of margaritas and a country band for dancing.  When the river flooded in 2010 Pepe's became IN the river not ON the river.  It stayed that way until this year when it reopened.

Now they are only open on Sunday, there is no food other than a food truck and lots of motorcycles.  I am not sure we are going to frequent the place much.  We passed Riverside Club when we left that reopened in 2012 and there wasn't a parking spot anywhere.  I am sure people came from Pepe's to eat.  We like that place too and have gone there frequently and will continue to do so.  We actually saw it on Fox News last year filled with women and children filling the bar waiting for the Border Patrol to pick them up.

Ted grilled a pork tenderloin for dinner and I used some of that Minnesota wild rice to make a side dish and had some cranberries too.  We seem to be averaging eating out every other day, mostly for lunch.  Neither of us are big breakfast eaters so a big lunch and light dinner isn't so bad.  Today we skipped lunch because of our schedule and had a nice dinner, just going with the flow!

Now about my title.  For the past 10 years we had to make our reservations for the following year to insure a space.  There are a dozen or so parks on our road alone and they were all booked solid every winter.  This year every park has lots of spaces available.  The border situation is hurting the area which took in $700+ million from winter Texans last year.  

There were lots of folks over in Progreso, Mexico though spending money.  Renee's bakery was filled to capacity, all 13 chairs at the nail salon were filled with folks getting pedicures and the lines back through Customs at times have been longer than ever seen before.  I guess you have a lot of folks who still feel comfortable in the area and others not so much.  The wave of newcomers each year just didn't happen.  The answer will lie in the total spent by the Winter Texans.  People vote with their feet and pocketbook.  Until the border is truly secure, I think the Rio Grande Valley will suffer.

Choices made, whether bad or good, follow you forever and affect everyone in their path one way or another.” 
― J.E.B. Spredemann







Friday, January 23, 2015

Crossing the Border

Trudy and I had made plans to go to lunch and shopping while Ted and Don did another "double."  Pistols first at the gun range, skeet second at the Skeet club.

We went to Renee's which is a spa/beauty salon/boutique and tea room.  I bought a Vera Bradley bag as a camera case and Trudy bought a dress.  We had a nice lunch, her treat to me for Ted always picking Don up to go shooting.  From there we went to Victoria's to check it out.  We both bought a few gifts and I can't believe I am Christmas shopping already!  We returned home around 5:00 and decided not to do Margarita hour next door.  Other than Don and Trudy, all our friends have moved to other parks and it isn't the same.

Thursday morning was the weekly ladies' breakfast and it was not far so I planned to drive myself and let Ted sleep.  But these wonderful women of Retama sent a FB message saying they would pick me up.  I was tickled they included me!  I am still an eggs and bacon person and it amazes me so many of the ladies do the refried beans and tortillas like I do toast!  We had been instructed not to sit with whomever we rode with so we all chose a different table.  Two new (to me) ladies sat down and we were quickly joined by another three.

Ann asked if I was going to the lunch on Monday but I admitted I had not yet signed up.  You have to keep up with this calendar while here!  She told Linda who runs these things that I was coming to the lunch and she was going to pick me up.  So I guess I'm going!  I sure haven't cooked much while here.

As soon as I returned home we left to pick up Jay and Stella and headed to Mexico.  We all had our grocery lists of needed medicines and they along with Ted were getting pedicures.  It is the only time Ted will go, even though he enjoys the results.  I had mine when I had my manicure last week so I was good, I just waited and observed.  The instruments and basins were all cleaned with bleach after each customer.  One girl was being so thorough with one lady, taking longer than anyone.  When we left I said I wanted her if we came back.  The lady tried to ask the girl her name but she didn't understand and almost looked scared that maybe she had done something wrong.  Spanish class to the rescue!  "Como se llama" I said and she smiled and answered Selena.  I was proud of myself over such a little thing.

We went to the Super store to check prices and got the analgesic cream there plus penicillin.  We moved on to my favorite, Almost Free pharmacy, to get the rest.  Someone on Retama FB had asked if anyone was going to Mexico.  She needed lots of vanilla for folks back home.  At breakfast I asked who that was and she was sitting two seats over.  I bought her six bottles of vanilla at the pharmacy along with Ted's eyedrops and Retin A cream for a friend.  I picked up a Z pack to keep on hand just in case.  Traveling like we do it isn't always easy or inexpensive to get to a doctor for a minor thing that would require an antibiotic. I just toss them when they expire and we haven't needed to use them.

On the way home Jay wanted to eat at Luby's but Stella nixed that.  Then she suggested Gonzales Burgers and he nixed that.  Ted suggested Cheddars since we all like that and we figured mid-afternoon was a good time.  Wrong!  We had to wait about 10 minutes to be seated.  This restaurant is always packed!  I wasn't really hungry so only ate my bowl of soup and took my half sandwich home.  We left about 3:30 and finally there was no one waiting.  The hostess said 3:30 to 4:15 is about the only lull they have but not on weekends.  The food is good, plentiful and very reasonably priced.  There is the answer to success.

Tom and Eileen are due in one day next week.  Their spot is occupied until 2/1 so they need a spot for 1-3 nights depending on their arrival.  There is a place for sale and I wrote a private message on FB to the owner.  He called and agreed to let them park on his spot but he has someone coming in 2/1 so it will be a day of musical coaches as everyone settles in for February.

Our beautiful weather is giving in to windy and cooler for two days and then the next week looks really good!








Tuesday, January 20, 2015

SUNSHINE and 85!

It's been a long time coming but yesterday it arrived.  No rain, plenty of sunshine and 85 degrees.  Perfect!  I know rain is coming two days this week but I was basking in the perfect combination.


Folks finally getting to enjoy the pool.  It was kept heated the whole time!


Monday was Ted's day.  He met the "gun people" at someone's port home to attend a gun safety talk by a Border Patrol agent.  When they finished everyone went to the gun range for instructions from the agent because he is the trainer for the Border Patrol.  Ted said he helped him improve his accuracy.  Ted seldom shoots a pistol but he has them and does on occasion.

This is a port home that has a carport for your RV.  


There are four accommodations areas in Bentsen Palms.  Regular homes in Tanglewood, port homes as part of Retama Village where we are in a coach house spot 


and then the regular RV park next door. And there are one bedroom casitas within the RV park for those without an RV.

I spent the day doing a bit of cleaning and worked on my Swedish weaving.  I am 17 rows away from being done.  Then I have to learn to tie the fringe on both ends!

We went to a Mexican restaurant for the Couple's Lunch.  We met two more couples but we didn't like the food.  For one, they didn't bring what we ordered and then claimed the kitchen changed the special and two, what they brought we didn't like, greasy and drowning in melted cheese.  We didn't like Mambo's next door last year and we don't like Koko's this year!

I did a load of laundry when we got back and then put together a bag of things needed for Shanghai.  In the evening we hosted a game during Game Night.  Four others joined us and we have a start to getting a regular group going.  Bruce was the big winner even though it was his first time playing and Ted was last!  I liked that it turned out like that.











Saturday, January 17, 2015

Such A Sad Day

On Friday we had our unit washed and waxed then we went to a Skymed luncheon.  We invited Dave, Karen, Dulce and Berndt to join us as our guests.  There was a huge crowd, a nice lunch and new info on what our insurance policy covers.  I have left a message with the company because I want more info on some of these benefits.  "Certain circumstances" is a bit ambiguous to me when you are talkng about a legal document.

We were home mid-afternoon when I received an email from our church.  One of our beloved and gifted deacons had died in a tragic accident.  Ted and I are devastated.  I feel so badly for his wife and children especially, but also for our entire church community. It will take a long while for us to come to grips with this horrific event.

We returned home and eventually went next door to see a comedy team.  The wife was under the weather so the husband performed on his own and did a good job.  He took our minds off our sadness for a couple of hours.

There was an RV show going on in Mercedes so we headed that way on Saturday.  The weather has been great for a couple of days now.  After the show we ate at Olive Garden then headed to church.  Fr. Roy was in rare form and had us in stitches as soon as he stepped on the altar.  It lifted our spirits to be in church with laughter surrounding us.

Later that evening, we went next door again to hear Mario sing.  Ted said we saw him several years ago when he first came here to perform but I didn't remember him.  It was an enjoyable two hours and spending it with Trudy and Don made it even better.  Mario said he was friends with Mickey Gilly and talked about the movie Urban Cowboy.  He said he knew everything about that movie.  During intermission I told him about our friend Tommy and how he ended up playing the wedding photographer in the movie.  NOW maybe he knows everything about it.


Sunday was shooting and football for Ted.  For me it was banking, reading and swedish weaving with a peek or two at football.  I must say the last 5 minutes of the Seattle/Green Bay game were exciting.  I have no horse in either of these races so it was just something to pass time for me.  There was a talent show next door and Karen had offered her season tickets at Victoria Palms to us because David has the flu but we declined.  Playoffs you know!  Staying home was a welcome choice.






Saturday, January 10, 2015

Making the Best of It

This weather has been the pits!  I know many have it a lot worse but cold and rainy is not fun when it is supposed to be sunny and 70!

Friday we did laundry, then got fuel, shopped for a coat for me and bought groceries.  That was about it.  We are warm and dry but getting cabin fever.  Everyone is expressing the same thing.  We are used to being out and about.  Having a potluck with the grill going is not possible on the patio right now.  And I watch the energy being wasted on heating the pool and hot tub that no one can use.

Saturday morning was a couples' breakfast and it was good to be in so many folks' company.  No one really wanted to leave the clubhouse but the clean up crew wanted to get things back in order.  Ted went for another fill up of our propane.  The furnace is running constantly.  He ran into the lady that has Mark's mailbox key and she said we received mail yesterday.  It is a check so we will stop by the bank and deposit it.

We decided to go to the boot maker to order the custom boots I am having made.  Seems cheaper than bunion surgery!  Since we were already that far east we traveled on to the Premium Outlets.  I bought a new Coach purse, a pair of Lee jeans and two more sweatshirts since I have been wearing the same 3 or 4 everyday we have been here!  Ted bought a pair of jeans too.  As we left, Ted pulled into Whataburger to use the bathroom and ordered a coffee.  When he went to pay they told him there is no charge to seniors for coffee!  Good to know.

We hurried home and boiled spaghetti for when we returned and then left for church.  Fr. Roy is real upset with those "damn terrorists."   He said their dark evil will never extinguish the light of Christ.  We returned to the park and completed our Skyline chili for dinner.  Then we went next door to the RV park for card bingo.  I won over $50!  

Sunday was cleaning, catching up with my sister by phone, tortellini soup for dinner and Ted shooting.  Not too exciting.

But today the sun is out and it is in the mid 60s!  At least it is heading in the right direction.  Here is our spot with double drive and coach house.  


We went to the HitchHiker luncheon today and old friend Bill was there but Judy is under the weather.  They are parked right down the road from us and next to the park Jay is going into.  Speaking of Jay, they were on their way here when they got the call that his uncle died in East Texas.  So they headed that way and won't be here now until Friday.  

Ted is washing his truck and I am alternating between arguing with my lawn service and finding the closest Enterprise so he can rent a car.  He needs to make a trip to Corpus Christi to see a new customer tomorrow.  He will be going into the McAllen newspaper at some point but that is local.  

I pre-paid my lawn service through January and tried to send a photo of the check to two different emails I was given.  Both came back as invalid.  They said they would send me an email so I could reply and that never came either.  I finally called, got voicemail and told them I have checks proving I have  paid through January and I am not paying the bill they just sent for December. 

We spent one hour at Enterprise waiting for a car!  People were returning them and they were going out as quickly as they turned them around.  It was crazy!  I drove the car home and Ted drove the truck stopping at HEB for drinks and snacks to take to Tom's who had the guys to his coach house to watch the Ohio State game.  Ted was the only Ohio fan!

Ted drove to Corpus Christi for the start up of the press run and then drove back.  I took the truck to the nail salon!  I miss having my own car.

The ladies potluck was Wednesday afternoon and we went next door to Margarita hour to visit with Don and Trudy.  They stopped by earlier in the week to tell us they have rented a spot here for next year.  That means all our friends will have left there by next year.

Today I joined 20+ ladies for the weekly breakfast.  The weather guessers are saying the weather will warm up and dry out starting tomorrow.  Today is warmer and dry, though overcast.  Keep your fingers crossed!



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Not a Great Start

The weather on Sunday and Monday didn't improve but we did take a walk next door to visit Don and Trudy.  They are only one of two of our friend couples still in the RV park.  They are going to look over here next year too.  We also attended computer school to learn how to navigate the website to stay on top of things.

Our biggest problem has been the electric.  Our rig has a built in surge protector.  If voltage drops or peaks, it shuts the electric down to protect us.  It kept shutting off and our readings said low voltage.  We had an electrician out twice and they said the electric post was fine.  We tried the 30 amp instead of 50 and it did it less but we still needed to get it fixed.  Mark, the owner, told us to do whatever needed to be done.

On Tuesday Ted called AEP, the electric company, and then went shooting at the range.  The fellow arrived and pulled the meter and we could hear the crackling.  It was obvious where a part was burned and was causing the problem.  That's when the fun began!

AEP said only the meter was theirs.  The post belonged to Rhodes Enterprises or the HOA or the lot owner.  Great!  I finally determined that Mark owns the post, Rhodes should have spare parts, AEP needed to shut off the electric and we needed the electrician back to change the part they needed to get from Rhodes!  Whew!  I called Ted to come back because this was getting complicated.

AEP turned off the electric, the electrician came back then left to get the part, returned and fixed it.  Now it got to be even more fun.  Ted called AEP to come restore the power.  We waited a couple hours and at 3 he called back.  THEN we were told the city had to inspect it but no permit had been pulled so our request was just sitting there.  So Ted called the electrician who was probably sorry he had ever met us.  He said he would go right then to pull the permit so the city would inspect it!

By now it is the end of the work day and we know nothing else is going to get done and we have no electric.  If it wasn't for his CPAP machine we would have been OK on 12 volt and propane.  Ted finally asked Kathy next door if their post would support both of us, one in 50 amp and the other in 30.  She said no problem.  We turned off the water heater and kept the fireplace off and had no issues through the evening and night.

The inspector came the next day and we waited and waited for AEP to come and restore power.  By the end of the day I was on the phone with the city saying they sent a clearance to AEP and AEP saying they never received it!  The next morning at 7:45 the original AEP guy showed up and said he thought we were going to call back that same afternoon two days ago.  I told him we did and what had transpired.  He said we didn't need a permit, inspection or the green card the inspector gave us!!

It is all fixed and we unplugged from Kathy's and into our own.  I wrote Mark and told him what happened so he has a record to reconcile any charges.  They felt bad we had to go through this.  It would  have been much worse if Kathy hadn't been agreeable or her post wouldn't have been able to support both RVs on it.


I went to Spanish class that is being taught by Marisa who is in a Mobile Suites just like ours.  She and I were picked up by Beverly and Carolyn to go to the breakfast Thursday morning with 30 other women.  We had to speak Spanish in introducing ourselves and others as part of our 10 minutes a day practice!  Fun times.  I am third on the left holding my coffee cup.



Last night we went to a Victoria Palms dance featuring a 17 piece orchestra.  All our old Bentsen Palms friends were there, 5 other couples.  We had not seen them since July in Michigan at Dave's 70th birthday party.



Stella texted me this morning to let us know they have hail at Inks Lake and aren't coming until Monday.  With no road crews around, it is best to stay off Texas highways in this crazy weather.

Now if we can just get the temperature up to normal.  Enough of this jet stream dipping all the way down to the Gulf.



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Cold and Dreary

Wednesday dawned cold and drizzly but the temperature had stayed in the 40s so the icy roads they had warned of did not materialize.  We hit the road by 8 am for our final destination for the next two months, Mission, TX.

It was an uneventful trip with just two restroom stops and we arrived in weather that was rainy, windy and cold.  As soon as we arrived, Niles, from the spot two doors from us, came down to help Ted back the trailer in.  There were garbage cans out, a repair truck across the street, palm trees and the bushes that divide our two drives to dodge.  Niles is a former truck driver and talked Ted back into our spot in no time.  This is a sample spot, not ours and not our rig.  But they are spacious and some folks have a studio set up in their coach house.  We do not have access to ours.  It is filled with the owners stuff.


I just wanted him to get it set up level so I could go inside.  Poor Ted had to deal with the utilities and came in cold and wet later on.  We both had a hot drink and then settled in before Ted decided to go get our propane tank filled because it appears we will be using the furnace for a few days yet.

Our favorite church was only having an 11 pm Mass followed by a potluck party so we chose to go to the Basilica for a bi-lingual Mass at 5:30.  It was decorated as beautifully as last year.  




I have found you really have to pay attention because you never know when the priest is going to switch between English and Spanish.  The opposite language is displayed on a screen except for the Sermon.  Father just wings it between the two languages.

Afterwards we ate at Furrs Buffet since things were starting to close and the few open had long waits.  We like Furrs and eat there on occasion with Jay and Stella and it was fine after a day of travel and bad weather.  There was an open city party at the Convention Center and a dance at the RV park that Don invited us to but even with three things to choose from (four if you count seeing a movie), we just wanted to come home and relax.  I missed the ball drop in Times Square and that was only 11 pm here!

New Years Day did not get any better weatherwise.  Since our DISH satellite is not set up yet the football games Ted wanted to watch were unavailable to him.  So we went to Walmart for a few groceries.  Having the kids for a week lowered my inventory.  After dinner Ted went to the clubhouse to watch the Alabama/Ohio State game.  I went to bed at 11:00 and did not learn until the next day that Ohio had won.

Friday I went to the coffee and muffin gathering for the ladies.  Afterwards I stayed to help take down the Christmas decorations.  An hour later I returned for the Swedish Weaving class.  It was an introductory one but I am going to need help with the edging since I didn't get that far last year so I will be attending.  We are also having Introductory Spanish in January.  I don't think I will have any trouble filling my time here.

On Saturday the Welcoming Committee came to give us a packet and answer questions.  Other than needing info on how to access their website calendar, we didn't need any info.  They stayed for an hour as we got engrossed in conversation.  Everyone has been so friendly and helpful.

We went to our favorite church and saw Fr. Roy.  His three dogs were dressed in red robes and crowns in honor of the Epiphany.  There were also three human kings and a llama posing as a camel.  Never a dull moment at that church.  We stopped at CVS then tried Cheddar's for dinner.  There were people outside, in the vestibule and mobbing the hostess so we moved on.  We have a Landry's card so went next door to Saltgrass, flashed that card and were seated immediately.  I don't know what the folks waiting thought!  By the time we left, the wait was one hour.

We had a bit of sunshine, blue skies and 55 degrees.  I am hoping it continues heading to that sunny and 70 we like best.






 


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

San Antonio Visit



We were on the road at 8 am Sunday morning despite the cool temperatures and rain.  We stopped for breakfast at the Flying J just before getting on I-10.  As we moved west, the rain stopped and tiny bits of blue sky peaked out.  We had no difficulty locating our campground and the cabin the kids were staying in.  Once settled in we left to visit the Alamo and Riverwalk.  We watched the movie in the long barracks and looked at the artifacts but did not get to see the inside of the Alamo itself because the line was so long.  We were pretty sure we did not have enough time to make it through the line before closing.  Besides being the weekend between Christmas and New Years, the Alamo Bowl will be played over New Years.  The city is swamped with visitors.

The decision was made to do the boat ride the next day because it was quite chilly.  So we ate at The Republic of Texas restaurant.  We walked a bit up and down both sides of the river walk before heading back to the campground.

Monday we spent a good part of the day at the Mission of San Jose.  We saw the video about the Indian tribes that are classified as Tejanos, Mexicans who found themselves living in Texas as governments changed.  It is very well done.  From there we toured the buildings and grounds on our own.

Ally with the mission church in the background.


Ted as we approached the buildings.


Pat, Kelly and Ally in front of the famous Rose Window.


Pale reminders of the colorful designs used on the church by the Mexicans.


The current altar which included four very old statues.


Pat and Kelly walking in front of the church.


Kelly and Ally in the garden.


We moved on to El Mercado where we did a bit of shopping and had a late lunch at La Margarite.  It was so good and we left really full.  The waiter needs to work on Sweet and Unsweet.  No matter which tea we ordered, he brought the opposite!




We left there and walked to the boat ride on the river.  The kids really enjoyed that.  Eventually we walked back to the car and headed home with a stop at Walmart for some breakfast items.  

You are the first to see the initial photos I have taken with my new camera.  The learning curve continues!

We had breakfast in the RV before heading to Mission Concepion Tuesday morning.  We were just in time for a tour and Danny did a great job.  It is the first time I have heard of the blending of Christian beliefs and symbolism with Mexican beliefs and customs to teach the people who lived within the mission walls about God and Christianity.

This is the oldest stone church in the U.S. and has never been damaged so it never had to be rebuilt.  Frescoes within the church have been painstakingly restored as best as they can be.  It is the only one of the five San Antonio Missions with a double bell tower.  One of the eight original bells remains and is still in use.  Four of the five missions are still used as parish churches.  Only the Alamo is not.


The main altar featuring the Assumption of Mary.  The circle (God) above the triangle (Trinity) above the door in the previous picture is positioned so that at 6:30 pm on 8/15 (feast of the Assumption) the sun spotlights the painting.


The chapel with a partial frescoe restored.  It was a red drape with a valance pulled back to show something that is mostly green.  One can only surmise what it was in its entirety.


The kids left for Austin from there to get Cassie before continuing on to Dallas.  We did some running and returned with just enough time to cut up some cheese and sausage and get dressed before Gus and Melissa arrived.  We had a nice visit and dinner at Texas Roadhouse.  If the weather had been better I would have fixed dinner but needing to cook and eat inside gets a bit crowded.

I was able to download the latest pictures with no problems or cursing!  But there is lots more to learn.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Ahhhhhhhhhh!!!

We went to church at 9:00 on Sunday and just as Mass started,  a couple with six kids piled into the ends of the two pews in front of us.  The rest was a lesson in Trials and Tribulations for me.  The kids were quiet but climbed back and forth all over the place.  The poor baby in the carseat had toy cars run over his head, up and down his arms, etc. but remained quiet!  God love 'em all!  I survived and even know what the homily was about!

Ted had made tortellini soup for his last day at the gun club.  I had lots of my salad left from the night before so he took that plus ice cream to go with Pete's pies for the guys to have lunch.  Ted said everyone raved about the salad which I had considered nothing special.   I was just glad they enjoyed it!  

Meanwhile back at the ranch I got the house in order and started the laundry.  I went over my menus and grocery list before finally sitting down.  Monday and Tuesday would be relatively calm until Kelly and family arrived.

It was dinnertime on Tuesday when our company finished their long trek. Ted had smoked a brisket so we all sat down to eat and chat about their trip from Michigan.  We spent the rest of the evening sorting out our plans for their time here. 

Pat, Kelly and Cassie met a colleague of Pat's for lunch and a visit on Christmas Eve.  Our plans to eat at 4:00 diminshed as the traffic increased, delaying their arrival back home.  So we went to the restaurant at 6:00, looked at some Christmas lights and went to church at 9:00.  It was going on 11:00 by the time we got home.  We decided to leave the gift giving until Christmas morning.  Santa was good to me.  I received a new camera, a GPS (because Ford's SYNC doesn't understand me) and a hair dryer brush.  The girls bought me make-up and sweaters.  

We spent a good part of the morning doing presents and answering phone calls and texts.  Once we finished it was time to start dinner that we planned for 3 p.m.  Our dinner was very good but by the time we finished cooking, eating and cleaning up It wasn't long before I was fast asleep on the couch and missed going to the movies with the kids.  I didn't even hear them leave.

Cassie had friends from Austin coming to get her on Friday and we had invited them for lunch so it was back to the kitchen once again.  They arrived right on time and we had a delightful visit and meal.  When they left we started taking down the few decorations I had up and prepared them to be put in the garage and attic.  Since we needed to move two cars for attic access we left them until the next day. 

We then went to the mall to return Kelly's spice rack because Pat and I had both bought her one.  We also were looking for something to put the shadowbox in but struck out.  I think Kara will have to wait until summer to get it.

Meatballs and spaghetti were on the menu for dinner.  They had been in the freezer since last week when I had prepared them for Terry and Carol.  I was relieved to have an easy meal to get together.  We were down to just the five of us with only Ally here.  My sauce and meatballs tasted even better the second time around.

We chose Hundred Step Journey from On Demand for our evenings entertainment.  I even stayed awake through the whole movie.  It was very predictable but enjoyable.  Certainly not a Must See.

Saturday was spent putting the decorations away, doing laundry, loading the RV, packing up the kids' things and eventually church.  From there we went to the mall to return the container the shadowbox did not fit in despite the dimensions given.  I also returned some slacks to Macy's.  We had for dinner  what we refer to as Fend For Yourself Day.  All the leftovers are put out along with paper plates and you build your meal then pop it in the microwave.  It cleans out the refrigerator, keeps from wasting food and saves me from cooking!

Gerre and Barry arrived close to 10 pm to pick up Tucker.  He was certainly glad to see them.  I gave her three pointsettias to take home.  She has a green thumb and will keep them blooming.  I am lucky to keep them alive through the holidays.

We left Sunday morning before Chris arrived to take up residence.  He will have to wash the sheets himself for his bed.  We left a little after 8 am so no time to do laundry before we headed to San Antonio.  After not being there for almost three months I am sure he won't mind in exchange for some private time away from the folks.



Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Up Early Every Day

I have been checking off each thing I have to do as a countdown until our oldest daughter and her family arrive.  First thing Monday morning I was up peeling sweet potatoes and getting them into the oven for a funeral at church.   I then got myself ready for my bunco group's Christmas luncheon.  We dropped off my pan of potatoes then proceeded to the most exclusive area of where we live, complete with a guard to check us in!  The amazing thing about the folks where I live is that for most, it doesn't matter where you live.  Everyone is included and welcomed.  I always joke that some may think they are in their walk in closet when they come to my patio home!

Brenda's house is overwhelming in size and decorated beautifully.  After much oohing and aawing by all, we had our gift exchange followed by a delicious lunch at tables set most elegantly.  We all had a good  time and thanked our hostess for her efforts to make our party fun.  She did a terrific job.

Ted always stays outside and loads my car with the food donations everyone brings for the food pantry and then takes it all there for us. This year he had one more job.  Brenda asked if he would open the bottle of champagne for her, which he did.  Then he went to the gun club to shoot. Last evening he loaded up my Expedition one more time with the six bags of wrapped presents and the tricycle that goes to the Women's Shelter Gift Distribution location where I am working this week.  I have a case of water to take too for the workers.  And people ask why I drive such a big car.  

I finally learned why we have a day between intake and distribution for the shelter.  I had only worked distribution in the past so didn't know what transpired before that.  Besides accepting the gifts for the families, there is Shelter Santa donations.  These donations are not strictly for Christmas but will also be used throughout the year; however, we were advised they never last that long.

A dozen or so long tables were set up and marked for Infants, Boy Clothes, Boy Toys, Ladies, etc.  It becomes a challenge on some items how to classify them.  By the end of the day we had to put baskets under the tables for overflow of toiletries, hot wheels, Barbies, socks, crayons, PJs, etc.  The next day the shelter employees boxed everything up by category to be moved to their facility for storage and use as needed.

Our busiest time was when 17 Corvettes from a club came as a caravan loaded down with gifts, an envelope of gift cards and a check for $1,000.  All of that arriving at once kept us hopping for awhile.

Our 54 family gifts had arrived by 4:30 so we left an hour earlier than expected.  

Wednesday I had an early morning dentist appointment then used the day to get caught up on my own stuff.  Thursday I was back ready to help distribute the family gifts.  I hate to admit it but two 8 hour days on concrete took its toll.  I was so tired when I got home but after dinner I proceeded to make meatballs and spaghetti sauce from scratch for our company on Friday.

I met one of my best friends for breakfast Friday morning.  It was raining but we both ventured to a new coffee shop anyway.  We spent about 2.5 hours together visiting by ourselves.  Usually we are out in a social situation and conversations and folks are all around us.  I am glad we took the time to spend time alone this holiday season.
 
We had Terry and Carol for dinner Friday night and exchanged our gifts.  One of ours was a gold ornament that says "Donna and Ted   50 years   1965-2015", our first anniversary acknowledgement that we will celebrate next year in April.  They all joined the clean plate club so dinner was a hit.


Saturday was hair appointment day, pick up of my secret project and our neighborhood dinner complete with friends who had moved to Florida that were back for a visit.  This called for a strawberry and spinach salad and now I am finished!!  No more special cooking until the kids arrive.

Here is the secret Merry and I worked on together.  Framing was done at Michael's.  Since Kelly will transport it to Michigan I was only able to email a photo to Kara and Bill.  They loved it because now all their momentos are in one place and preserved.










 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Entering the Home Stretch


Wednesday was the longest hair appointment of my life!  I am trying a new girl and she cut, colored, highlighted and styled my hair but I was gone close to five hours!  However, one of those hours was spent going and coming.  Her shop is in another town.  But in the end it looked nice and Ted really liked it so I guess it is worth the extra time.

Our neighborhood luncheon was in a treehouse on Thursday.  I knew the place had Treehouse in the name but I thought it referred to the small treehouse by the parking lot.  There is a room built around a huge tree separate from the restaurant and not visible from the road.  It will seat 20 so the dozen of us fit real well.  Despite the sadness of Wanda not being with us, we had a lovely time.  I drove a carful of ladies and when I returned I changed clothes because it had gotten so warm and then I headed to the nail salon.  As far as appearance goes, it was as good as it was going to get for the weekend.

I was expecting Isabelle on Friday afternoon but by 4:00 she had not arrived.  We were due at Irene's birthday dinner at 5:00 so I finally had to call and reschedule her until Monday afternoon.  We had a very nice dinner at the country club with lots of friends all around the dining room.  The food was good unlike the holiday dinner food I had at their other clubhouse last week.  I think they need to work on consistency.

I was up early Saturday morning getting ready for Pat, Susan and Peg to come wrap the gifts for our women's shelter family.  I staged all the gifts into stations to help facilitate the work.


When they arrived we all pitched in.



And in about two hours we were all done.  


We had to put all the wrapped gifts into plastic bags marked with our family's number so it can once again be staged at the Gift Distribution site.  I will be working both the intake day on Tuesday and on Thursday the distribution day.  

We went to church and to Chik Fila afterwards with Terry and Carol until it was time to meet Gerre and Barry.  They bought us tickets to see "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."  I was unfamiliar with the story and it turned out to be so enjoyable.  It was nice to see something with the true meaning of Christmas as its message.  

Today I will finish wrapping the last few things and go to the grocery.  I have to take a pan of sweet potatoes to a funeral at church tomorrow on the way to my bunco Christmas party.  We donate food to the church food pantry so Ted will stay at Brenda's with the hatch up, collect all the food from the arrivals, then take it right to the pantry.  We will have a gift exchange and lunch instead of playing bunco.  I hope someone will give me a ride home!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Little Breathing Room

We attended a lovely memorial service Saturday afternoon for Wanda.  There was a nice crowd and three rows of neighbors at the Baptist church.  Afterwards, coffee and cookies were served and we had a chance to extend our sympathy to Noel.  We hadn't seen him since all his family was in town.

We were home just a short while and then had to leave early for our own church.  We were helping people choose gift information from our Giving Tree and also accepting gift cards and presents from  those that stopped by last week to choose their tag.  After Mass we had to return to our duties until everyone had been helped and Paul moved the collected gifts to the storage Pod and took possession of the gift cards.  I couldn't remember where I had put our card but thankfully I found it in the last place I looked!  Another thing completed.

With that out of the way we left for Susan's with the big box containing the tricycle.  Bill, her husband, offered to put it together.  We didn't think it was any more than attaching handlebars and wheels but we didn't want to open it to find out it was more.  We aren't the best at that stuff.  I needed to spend $4 more at Academy for free shipping so bought the bell for the handle bar.  I didn't take it to Bill but felt confident we could do it!  Sunday Susan wrote "LOL, the tricycle came with a bell!"  I gave my bell to Ted with the Academy receipt and gave him another errand for Monday.

One Christmas Eve I had to put a Barbie Dream House together with no instructions and only the box photo to go on.  Logic played big time in that endeavor.  At Kristin's wedding her maid of honor and friend for over 30 years said in her toast that she loved playing at our house because with three girls we had every Barbie toy ever made.  I still have a jeep, horse trailer and one horse in the toy box in the garage.

While Ted went shooting I finished wrapping our gifts and got out what I have for our wrapping party.  We have plenty of paper but we will need boxes, bags and tape to give the mother to wrap her children's gifts.  We will wrap hers so she has Christmas surprises too.  I am waiting on two things to be delivered and need to get one gift certificate and I am done unless I can think of something for Ted.  The man only needs gun powder but he can't find any to buy.  Ammo is being bought up so quickly that all production is going to manufacturers.  Buying it separately as a component is almost impossible right now.

Monday I played cards but didn't get down twice, went out twice and ended up last!  Such is life.  I was at the home of the Alzheimer's patient that Ted takes out to lunch and for rides.  His wife has a lot on her plate right now.

I was scheduled to work four hours at the Thrift shop on Tuesday but Peg called and asked if I would use my Expedition to take the nursing home party bins to the storage office at the Forum office.  We arranged for Judy to work two of my four hours so I could help Peg.  Lots of cooperation.  Afterwards Peg treated me to lunch as a thank you.  We had fun talking about Cincinnati food since we are from there.  Goetta, Skyline chili, Graeter's ice cream, turtle soup, buckeyes, german potato salad, etc.  So many childhood memories.






 

Monday, December 1, 2014

Stamina Week

I met Peg, Pat and Susan at 10 a.m. on Monday morning.  We had to set a budget and decide what we were going to purchase for our Women's Shelter mother and two sons, ages 2 and 6.  Susan and I took the boys' lists and Pat and Peg took the mother's list.

We got the boys jackets, hoodies, tennis shoes, jeans, PJs, shirts and a few toys including a tricycle for the 2 year old.  We also bought diapers and wipes for him at Mom's request.   Mom got a comforter set, sheets, pillows, sleepshirt, underwear, makeup, socks, jacket, Skecher shoes and four shirts.  We set next Saturday morning aside to wrap the gifts.


Our Christmas luncheon for one of our three Seniors groups was Tuesday.  This called for two bags of salad and two bingo prizes.  I took a poinsettia candy dish and someone set a bag of Lindor chocolates in it.  My second prize was a set of two Christmas mugs and someone set a box of tea bags with them.  They both got picked about half way through.  Our menu was quiche, salad, rolls and red velvet cake.  A group from Cy-Fair High School performed and were spellbinding.  We all usually gather in the kitchen during the entertainment but everyone came out to sit and listen.  They sang Carols in such beautiful harmony.  Kudos to their teacher.

That night was our own Holiday Party held at the country club where we live. I took the Globetrotter Spaulding basketball I bought last summer while traveling as my toy collection gift.  Everyone looked so festive.  Normally we see each other in our rather plain uniforms.  We had a nice time but the food was horrid.  People were taking photos of their plate because it was so unappetizing looking.  It was all white and orange - a clump of mashed sweet potatoes, a pile of white and orange winter vegetables and chicken florentine rolled into a log with white sauce.  Everything was in the middle of the plate, all touching with nary a sprig of parsley to enhance presentation.  Bread pudding was dessert and was stiff enough to cut into squares.  I was missing my Talbot's Tavern of Bardstown KY bread pudding made from leftover biscuits with bourbon sauce.  The wine, salad, rolls and coffee were good and we just didn't eat much off our plates.  It is one of thousands of meals in a lifetime so no sense getting too upset over it though I heard the comment we are going back to Shirley Acres next year.

When the evening was over, Judy and I separated the toys as equally as we could for the two organizations they were going to.  Jill was heading one place, Judy and I another.  She and I did that the next morning.




During dinner, Jean said she wanted to work at the nursing home Thursday but the roster was filled.  She has an elderly neighbor living there and hoped to encourage her to join the party.  I gave up my spot so she could attend and the next day ran the two packs of sugar free cookies I had already purchased to her house.  

I was so busy this week it was a relief to not have to go.  The other reason was I had just received word that my neighbor Wanda had passed away and I didn't know the arrangements.  I am glad she is no longer suffering but will miss her terribly.  Our neighborhood Christmas luncheon next week won't be so festive I'm afraid.  When I came home in the daylight the next day, the beautiful Christmas wreath Merry had made for Wanda's nursing home door was hanging on the front gate.  That was all it took for the tears to start.  The last thing she told us when we last visited her was "I love you two."  

Friday was the Board of Directors/Executive Committee holiday brunch.  It was held at the office which was turned into a beautiful banquet hall.  The tables were lovely and the food wonderful - cream of fresh vegetable soup, salad, chicken salad croissants and many, many homemade cookies, candy and petit fours.  We had our regular meeting and already started on next year's business by electing a  Nominating Committee.

I took the afternoon to get my eyebrows touched up.  It has been over four years since I had them done and they needed a little filling in.  Emily had me finished in half an hour.

In the evening we met Gerre, Barry, Jennifer and Gene for dinner before attending A Christmas Carol, the Broadway Musical.  It was a nice production of a familiar story but with most of the dialogue done in song lyrics as many musicals are.  Unfortunately, two young boys had mic trouble all night and we hardly heard any of their singing.  Thís was opening night and I am sure the next performances will find the problem fixed.

Today we will attend Wanda's memorial service.  She has already been buried in Livingston at a private service for the family.  It is such a hard time of year to lose someone.  Then again, no time is good, is it?




Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Am Ready!

We had a nice meal and visits with friends for our Thanksgiving dinner.  There are a lot of people who eat out on holidays.  The dining room and food at the country club were festive and we enjoyed it.  However, it is a bummer the next day with no leftovers!  Afterwards we went back to Terry and Carol's to watch football and play cards.  Carol had made a pecan pie but we chose to bring our pieces home.

Friday Ted ventured out for one shopping item and I stayed home because Isabelle was coming to clean.  She hadn't given me a time with the holiday so I just waited.  Other than Ted's one trip we stayed out of the fray!

I put my decorations up for Christmas but as predicted there aren't many and they are not elaborate.  We have a Charlie Brown Christmas tree with my stable beneath it.  I set several pointsettias around too.  The stable always comes out but is usually on the kitchen sideboard.  To avoid storing my everyday things, I chose to keep the sideboard intact.  Same goes for the mantel.  I used my train and pointsettias on the hearth.  Add a wreath and a snowman out front and I am done!.






The kids head to Dallas the weekend after Christmas and we will depart as soon after as we can get the decorations put away and the RV packed.  Chris doesn't want to look at Christmas things until March and I don't want to come home to them either.

After church on Saturday, the four of us went to Fuddrucker's for burgers and to watch the Alabama and Auburn football game.  We stayed until half time then headed home.  It was a roller coaster game but I went to bed before it was over.  Terry and Carol's grandson goes to Alabama so I know they stayed up and were thrilled with the win.

Ted went shooting Sunday and I used the time to wrap gifts.  I then realized I had everything ordered but very little had actually arrived!  After wrapping four, I moved on to the Christmas cards.  I designed them and had them printed at Shutterfly.  It depicts what this year has been mostly about.  They are ready for stamps now.

I have a busy week coming up.  There are three "work days" for Junior Forum and two parties plus a couple of personal appointments.  I will catch y'all next week!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Lull Before the Storm

I Christmas shopped, in my jammies, in front of my computer on Saturday.  I hate to shop but this way is bearable.  And I love free shipping!  My daughter said on the phone they wanted a new garage door opener, one with the extra keypad, and before I finished talking to her, I had arranged for her to receive an email from Sears saying one was at their mall awaiting pick up.  Instant gratification!  Love getting the sons-in-law things they really want or need.  Now the other son-in-law can help install it on Thanksgiving Day.  We call him MacGuyver because he can fix anything!

We went to church and then watched football ALL night!  I actually read and looked up now and then to comment.  When we watched the Texans on the Panama cruise my friend asked me if I understood the game when everyone whooped at a play. I told her "Yes, I understand it ... I just don't care."  I'm not even a "sunshine soldier."  We went to Gerre's Sunday because she was hosting the neighborhood get together for the Texans-Bengals game.  It was one of those games I couldn't lose since Cincinnati is my hometown!

The Bengals won but no one had to listen to me gloating because I was sitting outside by the pool enjoying the sun and 80 degree temperature.  We came home to more football.  I also had to get the bathroom ready for the workers that showed up at 8 a.m. on Monday.  It took them less than six hours to sand and stain the cabinets.


While they worked I did laundry and more Christmas shopping.  I had most of it done except for one granddaughter who had not yet sent me a list.  Her sister sent two typewritten pages!  

After dinner we watched Ferguson, MO burn which we all knew was coming.  I just don't understand how people think burning down their own neighborhood advances their cause.  I am not a racist but I'm not stupid either.  For safety, I wouldn't have been anywhere near that area last night knowing what was coming.  

Tuesday I was on the phone a lot getting all my last minute appointments made.  My calendar is so marked up I had to get a clean piece of paper to attach to it.  I did more Christmas shopping and I am very close to being done.  We did bow out of a group dinner when Ted saw the meal selections.  Two years ago he was told he could order something else but the restaurant said no that night.  We ended up spending over $100 for two dinners neither of us enjoyed.  We don't want to ruin the efficiency of the kitchen in getting over 40 dinners out to everyone else.  

We tried to get new I-phones Wednesday but I am not allowed until August.  I couldn't buy it for 99 cents.  I couldn't buy it for $19 a month.  I could have a Droid but nothing else.  The fellow even called Corporate and they said no.  I told them all or nothing at all so he had to undue everything he had done on Ted's phone to return it to us.  I don't understand, but it is what it is!  I may tell Verizon to shove it and change carriers.

On our way home we stopped at the nursing home to visit Wanda.  Her spirits are amazing.  She remembers Ted picked her up off the garage floor but then talked about Stan from church but we go to different churches so we don't know him.  She insisted we did.  She was getting drowsy so we left so she could nap.

We are leaving for dinner at the country club and then to Terry and Carol's afterwards.  Happy Thanksgiving!





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More Projects

Monday was my bunco group at Judy's.  We made all the plans for our Christmas luncheon before starting play.  I didn't win anything but that's OK.  I came home and made arrangements for the carpet stretcher, leather couch cleaner and the carpet cleaner to come on Tuesday. 

The couch cleaner came first.  He was a jolly black man that was very accommodating,  I didn't see the back of his hat that said Obama until he was leaving!  He cleaned both couches and then switched them so I am now using the one that hasn't been used as much.  We discussed my area rug and he said he could take it in for cleaning.  I was hesitant because of having people over Thursday but we took up the rug and the wood floor underneath was fine.  I thought perhaps their would be a shadow from the rug but there is none.  It will be back in two weeks.  

As soon as he left, the carpet stretchers came.  I found out either company could have done all of it.  Live and learn.  My bedroom doorway and the closet doorway in one of the guest rooms had some buckling.  It took them no time to stretch the carpet and get rid of those lumps.  I had made a chicken pot pie so I popped it in the oven and we had a quick dinner.

I took Wednesday to hit the nail salon.  The parties are starting and the first one is Friday.  After nails I stopped at the grocery store to pick up some things for the Shanghai group I offered to host on Thursday because the original hostess opted out.  I also had to make lemon squares for a funeral Friday.

Nine ladies came to play cards on Thursday.  While we were doing that, Ted took Stan for another ride since he was eating lunch when he went to pick him up.  I am sure he forgot that Ted was coming.  So they rode to Brenham to the Blue Bell ice cream factory.  They skipped the tour and went right to the ice cream tasting where they were both given two different flavors at no charge.  You get a free one on the tour and the second is $1 but no one ever asked for any money!  I told Ted it was a reward for being nice to Stan.  He took him to the store where he bought several items.  Ted reported this to the attendant when he took him back to the care unit in case he had something he shouldn't.  

I made lemon squares for the ladies but most were left so I took them to the funeral without having to make another pan.  I was glad about that.  While at church I also bought the missals Ted and Bill use during Mass.  The Catholic Church runs on three cycles.  Each cycle starts on the first Sunday of Advent which is four Sundays before Christmas so it is fast approaching.  They now have all three books.  After that it was off to the hair salon.  

Tonight was our first holiday party at Jody and Dave's.  She sets the most beautiful refreshment tables.  Lovely dishes, scarves, bows, etc. graced all the stations she had set with delicious food.  Then there was the bar with something for everyone.  They made sure there was a bottle of Riesling for me and Diet Coke for Ted.  Jody even sent the rest of the bottle home with me so it didn't get wasted.  I am the only one that drinks such sweet wine.

Really rough weather is predicted for tomorrow.  The holiday lighting ceremony in our area has been postponed until Sunday.  We have no plans other than church so I hope we don't get blown away!




Thursday, November 13, 2014

Here Comes Thanksgiving

Time just keeps passing more quickly each year.  When I remember back to something, I am amazed to realize it was years ago that something occurred but it seems like yesterday.  I am sure I am not  alone.

My luck at cards ran out Wednesday night when neither Ted nor I won.  In the third hand where you need three sets of three of a kind, I was dealt five pairs and a joker.  Slam dunk right?  I just needed to get two cards of any of the five pairs I had and along with that joker I was down.  I did not draw nor did anyone throw away any of those cards.  I was caught for 110 points holding the exact same hand I was dealt.  It was the kiss of death and I never pulled out. Ted didn't get down in the first two rounds and suffered along with me.  But dinner was good and the company even better so losing some dimes is no big deal.

Kristin and Larry had to put down their dog Shep that night.  She was 14 but had a mass on her liver and couldn't stand, walk or control her bladder.  That is always such a sad choice to make.  She will be missed.

Thursday was our neighborhood luncheon for the ladies, Ted went with the men on Wednesday.  It was bittersweet because our greatest neighbor is in hospice care and she was sorely missed.  We had to decide what to do about Christmas since Wanda insists she is going to have us.  We reserved a restaurant and will address where to have dessert as the time gets closer.  

Merry and I made two stops concerning the surprise we are working on before heading home.  Isabelle came that day so we are totally clean inside and out!  Ted went to see if he could put the hog that is tearing up the sporting clay course to rest but he never showed up.  When it got dark he came back home.  The next morning all the corn was gone so obviously this hog is patient.

It was off to three places with Merry on Friday to finish our project.  I am torn about one thing but have time to make a decision!  Maybe I should leave well enough alone.  While at JCP an elderly lady fell on the up escalator and was tumbling around like in a clothes dryer.  Merry ran to her aid but the lady got cut up pretty badly from the metal strips.  They were at the top before more help arrived.  I picked up Mary's purse, looked for the woman's shoes and husband and got a chair from a dressing room.  At first the lady didn't want 911 but the bleeding wouldn't stop and Merry told them she may have hurt more than just the cuts so they called.  After Merry washed the blood from her hands we left just as the EMTs arrived.  It was scary for all of us.

I visited Wanda on Saturday.  She sits in her lift chair and watches TV and naps frequently.   She was happy to see Kara's wedding photos.  I offered to stay awhile so her husband could leave but she said she wanted to take a nap.  She is the world's greatest friend and neighbor and my heart is breaking.  In the evening we went to church and went out for a bite.  

Sunday was cold and rainy.  Ted went to shoot but they could never stay on the range long enough.  He gave up and came home.  I put a chuck roast in the crockpot and just stayed home.  Tucker was supposed to go home but the ship couldn't dock for 2.5 hours due to fog so they will come get him tomorrow.  Not a problem for us.  Hopefully this cold mess will move out and our 70 and sunny will return.  At least I hope so. Last winter was colder than normal and I don't want a repeat of that.