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.

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Holidays Are Breathing Down Our Necks

After I spray painted the chair and table, I took on the door using SunShield.  This is great stuff for outside wood treatment.  

Here are two rags I used on just the wood of the door, not a big area.  It is unbelievable how dirty things get.  SunShield cleans, waxes and protects exposed wood.  Note the new color trim on the doorframe.

Ted was shooting and I was on a roll so I moved a picture down an inch because I felt it was too high.  Then I tackled the cabinet interiors of the master bath.  The stainer will take the doors and drawers out to the garage but the cabinets will be stained in place.  I wanted to wash the bottoms and sides before they started.  

Stella called and they were on their way here from Oklahoma and wanted to have dinner.  After Ted came home and cleaned up we left for the mall to meet them. We were invited to the campground Tuesday for a Veterans Day BurgerQ and we accepted.  So we talked Jay and Stella into staying at the campground at least through Wednesday.

The week started off with my Canasta group playing Shanghai instead because we were short two people.  And I won!  My dime purse barely zips.  I have been doing well but I know that will change soon enough.  Sometimes you get the cards, sometimes not.

While I was doing that, Ted took our friend Stan out for lunch.  He and Michele have been friends for many years but Stan is now living in a Memory Care Unit.  He asked Ted to take him to Chik Fila and then for a ride.  They were together almost three hours.  Stan told Ted he probably wouldn't remember the next day that he had been there but he sure did appreciate lunch, the ride and the visit.  Michele called that evening and said when she talked to Stan it was the most cohesive he had been in some time.  The visit was good medicine for Stan's mind and Ted's soul.  

Tucker came to visit us for the week and he gets really excited when he gets here.  I am glad he likes his visits because we enjoy having him.  But it wasn't long and we had to leave for our BurgerQ Veterans Day party at the campground.  Lots of Winter Texan friends are back.  The owners and social director were really glad we came.  And Stella and Jay had stayed too.  It was like old times before everyone retired and hit the road.  I had made sweet potatoes because I figured no one else would bring them.  Texans don't seem to think they are a mainstay even for Thanksgiving!  Our first year here we were appalled at that and no cranberries!  My dish was mostly empty and Mack came up to tell me  how good they were so maybe I am making converts.

The window washers came on Wednesday and did the inside and outside in no time flat.  We are clean!  Roof, bricks, driveway, walk, patio furniture and even St. Francis.  The trim and fence look great in their new paint.  Inside we still await the cabinet stainers, rug stretcher and I am trying to get the correct shade of green rugs for the bathroom but we see the end of the line.  The sad part is that most  of what we have done, most people won't notice.  Sort of like buying a mattress or washing machine!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fall Has Arrived

We are finally getting cooler temps and some rainy weather.  So our inside painting was finished but the outside was on hold until we dried out.  I have booked the first cabinet stainer for Monday of Thanksgiving week.  By then it should be the last thing needing to be done inside.  The second fellow just didn't float my boat.  He never even showed me what he would do as far as finish and color.  And he was $200 more!

I worked two days at the Children's Festival this week and was in charge of getting signed releases from all of our volunteers.  One lady called in sick so I joined her group to get 159 children from the buses to their seats for two programs and then moved them to another venue for lunch and a program by the Children's Museum.  Last thing, get them all back on the correct buses.  By day's end I had already received an email saying one lady could not make it the second day so I worked with her team once my sign in duties were done.

Michelle, Doris and I enjoying the show with the youngsters on Day 1.

When I got home I took a nap!  Ted came in later and told me the paint sample was on our eaves so I went out to see it and I liked it.  Greg the painter called to say he would be at our house at 8:00 a.m. the next day.  I was gone by then so Ted was in charge.

I was pooped!  Two days of 3300 children out and about tired me out.  The second day I did double sign in duties because Liz was unable to attend.  Then I took Maria's spot because whe was out sick.  Our group only attended two of the five venues so we were able to leave before the big rush started.  We were told our buses were moved so they could get out early but that turned out not to be true so we did a lot of walking at the end.  This group of kids was so good.  They paid attention to the programs, listened to their teachers and when they finished lunch there was not a scrap of paper to be found.  Kudos to Ponderosa Elementary.

Saturday was "put everything back where it belongs" day.  All the pictures had to be rehung.  My window seat windowsill holds lots of framed photographs.  Flower arrangements were returned to their proper places and the new towels and rugs were unwrapped and put in the bathroom.  Progress!  The painters are returning Monday to finish up outside.

We picked up Carol for church since Terry is out of town.  Afterwards we went to a newer restaurant that none of us had been to.  It was pretty good and a great place if you are into beer tasting.  Carol had a blonde beer, I had a glass of Reisling and Ted had his ever present Diet Coke.  It was a nice visit interspersed with whoops and hollers during the Alabama-LSU football game.

Today I am going to sand and paint my porch chair and table to finish off the maintenance outside.  I really like the new trim paint color.  Though we have several different brick colors in the neighborhood, everyone was trimmed with light paint that matched the keystone.  I think that will be changing as more folks paint their homes.  It is getting to be that time.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

If I Could Turn Back Time ~ Cher

Halloween weekend was the "fall back" weekend from CDT to CST.  I don't know why they just don't leave it alone.  This, like school being out all summer, are throwbacks to our agricultural society.  Farmers don't need the extra hour in today's automated environment and kids working on the family farm is not so prevalent anymore either.  But I digress to the powers that be.

Friday night we were invited to the country club since the regulars didn't expect many to be there.  I have no idea how many usually show up but there were about six couples in our group.  We had a nice time and were home by 8:30.

The stainer was due here Saturday morning 8:30-9:00.  This has been going on for three weeks.  At 8:00 the phone rang and he said he had to work and would come in the afternoon.  When he wasn't here by 4:45 I told Ted to go to church without me.  When he wasn't here by 6:00 I called and left a message.  He called me right back and said maybe he could come tomorrow.  I told him never mind.  If I can't get a cost or sample of what is to be done in 3 weeks time, I have no idea how long it would take him to actually do it.  I went online and immediately had an 11 a.m. appointment for Monday from a highly rated company.  I hopes it goes well.

Sunday was a big day in Cincinnati for Lauren Hill, a freshman at Mount St. Joseph University.  Ted's two sisters both work at what we always refer to as "the Mount."  She has a terminal brain tumor and they moved the first basketball game up hoping she would be well enough to play.  She scored the first and last points in front of a sold out crowd that came to support her.  I have never met her but I admit I cried because it was such a success and so sad at the same time.

Besides using technology to stream that game live on my computer, at the same I was watching my nephew's company do the Bengal's fireworks.  And I was here in Texas watching it all live.  Afterward I went shopping to return candles and buy a chair.  Ted went shooting and we ate "breakfast for dinner."

To start the week I did the laundry and the new stainer showed up.  I like what she had to offer but have one more appointment for Wednesday.  I just want to have something to compare.  The first one can do it in one day the week of Thanksgiving.  The painter called to say he would be by at 8 the next morning to power wash the house and then put my sample on the eaves before we buy the paint.

The house was power washed yesterday and I cleaned the patio furniture.  All that black from the roof made a mess of everything on the ground including my cement St. Francis in the shrubs!  Then all the repairs, caulking, etc. was done.   Since it rained last night and rain is expected today, the bedroom and bath inside will be painted. I moved everything off the window seat and furniture tops in preparation.  Ted slept in the guest room rather than get up by 7:30 this morning.  He was up late watching the election results.  No sense losing beauty sleep over a little painting going on.

The second stainer is coming today and I will make my choice between the two.  It appears all this stuff just might be done by Thanksgiving as planned.  Then I have to decide how much Christmas decorating I want to do.  Probably not much!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Someone's In the Kitchen with Dinah!

Friday night was the big football game between the two local high schools.  Ted received a call from John asking if he wanted to attend so off they went for a boys' night out.  Ted can watch 5 year olds play  football and enjoy it.  I on the other hand tolerate football 5 days a week at this time of year and was content to stay home with my popcorn and complete control of the remote.

On Saturday Ted worked a political shoot at the gun club.  He had a chance to give our Congressman his two cents worth.  Well, actually, he said maybe about a penny's worth due to a lack of time.  We went to church then had a lovely dinner at Landry's overlooking the lake with Terry and Carol.  For living in the same area, we have a hard time seeing one another often enough.  

On Sunday Ted had a chance to do his own shooting after all his working at the gun club.  He enjoys meeting and helping the event shooters but he enjoys his own shooting  more so.  I stayed home and got my Christmas card list in order among other things.  My cards arrived printed and ready to go last week.  I made chicken soup from scratch for dinner, a favorite of Ted's.  I got tired of waiting for the weather to cool.

Monday I had to deliver a tray of lasagna to church for a funeral.  I made just enough extra to make an 8 x 8 pan for our dinner too.  Once I delivered it to church I went to have my nails done.  I hate when my nails get too long and it had been a month since my last appointment.  I got the new girl and she wasn't what I would call speedy.

Tuesday was a Thrift Shop work day for me.  They are building on, which has screwed up the parking in the area. I was about 5 minutes late and told them I had to walk from Nacogdoches because of the parking.  It's hard to get fired as a volunteer.

Before I left home I made a batch of my cole slaw dressing because we were going to the campground to see Tommy, Susan, Jay and Stella for dinner and a visit.   Ted was up early and put an 8# brisket in the smoker.  After my four hour shift I came home and prepared baked beans.

The roof cleaners were here from 10-2:30 and it looks terrific. Walking down the street you can see the big difference between our roof and the neighbors on either side.  There is a sign in our yard now so maybe they will get some more business around here.

We went to the campground with brisket, beans, cole slaw and drinks.  First thing I noticed was Tommy's new toy - a drone with a camera.  He was playing with it today and took this photo.  It looks like a small helicopter with a tiny camera.  That is their Allegro Bus in the middle of the photo.

Dinner was great with cake, pie and ice cream for dessert furnished by Stella and Susan.  No one left hungry!

Merry, my neighbor, and I started on a project that will remain a secret for awhile.  Then in the evening I went to Happy Hour and stayed until 8:30.  Ted was in Dallas so I didn't have to cook today.  There are plenty of leftovers.

I was able to join my ladies Shanghai Group that I seldom get to play with.  They keep me on the roster and I respond immediately to let them know if I can play.  And today I won!  This is the $5 group so it was a nice pot!

No big plans for the Halloween weekend other than church on Saturday and then "falling back" on the clock.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Making A Little Progress on the Economy

Well, I donated $5 to the economy via bunco.  That was followed by two hours repair time on Ted's computer.  And that was just Monday!  The roofer did his thing Tuesday and it was determined we should have the roof cleaned.  Black streaks are a common occurrence on Houston roofs but I thought power washing would remove granules.  Apparently there is a low power wash that uses a solution that removes the algae causing the streaks.  He said removing that helps the roof because the algae holds in moisture against the shingles.  So the roof cleaner is coming next Tuesday!  After he left the plumber came and replaced the float system on both toilets.  The second one was spraying out of places it shouldn't so to avoid a second service call I just had him replace both.

I have made two trips to Sherwin Williams getting paint samples.  They told me to download an app that allowed me to take a photo of the brick and my bedroom rug then the computer picks up the colors predominant in the photo.  Of course with our brick that was a lot of shades. I was off on my first set so I went back with the new numbers off the computer and have selected a color that is darker than what we have now but hopefully will look good.  I was in the right ballpark with the bedroom paint.

My packages have been arriving since I shop mostly on line.  I also had to order a wedding present in the middle of all this purchasing.  Slowly the small changes are taking place in the house.

I met Gerre today to shop and have lunch.  I bought a new waste can and tissue holder for the bathroom, some candles that are not a good color and need to go back, some red wine glasses, a few Christmas gifts and a couple blouses.  When I arrived home Ted had his truck hood up. Two dead batteries!  Loving this trickle down stuff!

The painter will start once I give him my color choices and the roof cleaning is done.  Now I don't know who to have power wash the house - the roof cleaner or the painter whose bid includes it.  But will the painter power wash the walks and drive or do I need to have the window washer do that like he normally does when the painting is done?

The cabinet stainer is coming a week from Saturday.  Since he speaks a little English and I speak even less Spanish I am not exactly sure where this is going!  

Before we moved here we averaged 3.8 years per house.  Any decorating I did was to an empty house, most of them new.   I had no idea what to do about our bedroom furniture when we ordered carpeting.  No one ever told me they moved the furniture!  Same with the painter.  Who knew?

Nothing much going on this weekend but next week sure looks busy.  Eventually this will all get done and I will stop thinking about it.  However, I do feel a need to start throwing some stuff away!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Reagan's Trickle Down Economics

Here is how it works. You call the following small business owners to get things done around the house and you single handedly restore the economy!

Cleaning Crew to clean house
Roofer to repair, replace, paint flashings around vents, pipes, etc. as maintenance on the roof
Painter to paint house trim, fence, bedroom, bathroom
Cabinet stainer to work in master bath
Plumber to fix "innards" of the master bath toilet that is leaking 
Order new picture, sconces and chair to spruce some rooms up a bit
Order new towels and rugs for the master bath
Order replacement flowers for master bath arrangement
Buy new pillows for family room
Buy mums for outside wheelbarrow
Have sleeves hemmed on the NCL robe Ted bought me for my birthday on the cruise ship.  I swear an orangutan would find them too long.  The material is too thick for me to cut the six inches off before hemming so off they go to the seamstress.

Now doesn't everyone feel better about the economy?   I'm not sure Ted does.

Our constant coming and going makes it difficult to get jobs around the house done either by ourselves or someone we hire.  The house is 11.5 years old and just needs some TLC.  We only have about 10 weeks before we leave again and both Thanksgiving and Christmas are in that timeframe so I don't expect things to settle down anytime soon.

I spent most of the week at home coordinating our undertakings but I did play Canasta on Monday afternoon.  I came in last and got my $1 back!  We met Jay and Stella for dinner on Wednesday when they arrived back in Texas.  Friday night was dinner and our season ticket play night.  We saw Crimes of the Heart and it was very good.  Neither of us knew the storyline so it was totally new to us.

While I was busy stimulating the economy Ted worked two fund raiser shoots at the gun club.  The Pregnancy Center was on Thursday and 4H on Saturday.  We went to church Saturday evening and Ted will do his own shooting on Sunday.

I will carry on in his absence.  The stores will be open!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Few More Photos From Others

I have taken some photos from Facebook to share with you.  Also, Ted used my I-Pad a bit too.  I still  have not downloaded my camera.

Our stop at the icon of Puerto Vallarta.  This was one of the most fun days.  What a swell group of people.

Our trip on the Tarcoles River in Puerteranes, Costa Rica.  I am still starstruck at our driver and his fearlessness at coaxing these animals right up next to our boat which only sat a few feet out of the water.  We could pet them if we were so inclined.  We weren't!

Ted with the monkeys.

Ted and John (waving) at the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal.  This was taken by the ship's photographer.

The monkey in our cabin.  Our room steward was great.

A square in Carteghena.

The altar at St. Peter Claver, SJ church.  Our tour guide who wasn't really well versed in facts said SJ was for St. Jesus.  On the way out I quietly told her SJ stands for Society of Jesus and indicates Peter Claver was a Jesuit priest.  Her response?  "Really?  I learned something new."  So much for being correctly informed.

A wall in the courtyard of the museum.

The pool and slide on the ship.

A cargo ship passing us on Gatun Lake as we proceeded to the second set of locks.

One of the tugboats that holds ships against the wall while water is released from a lock so the current doesn't move them around in the lock.

It was a great trip.  Columbia and South America were a new country and continent for us.  That leaves lots more to see.  My To Do List still exceeds my Been There, Done That List.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

Starting A New Adventure

We were up at O Dark Thirty on 9/25 for a 7:30 flight to Los Angeles.  Terry picked us up, God bless him, at 5:30 am and delivered us in plenty of time to the airport.  For some reason I was once again not allowed to register online so we had to go to the counter.  Surprisingly we were given TSA Pre Check and bypassed the long security line for a less thorough inspection.  No pat down for me!  I have no idea why.

Our flight was uneventful and way more comfortable than our last flights on KLM.   The exit row was empty and we were allowed to move to those seats.  We arrived a half hour early which added to the time we had to wait for our transfer bus.  I called Gerre and told her where we were so they had their hotel shuttle bus drop them off to join us.  We had coffee and split a bagel since we were given nothing on the plane for a 3.5 hour trip.  We could buy M&Ms or chips though.  For breakfast!

Eventually the bus to the port arrived and in a half hour we were able to board our ship.  First up was lunch because it was now mid afternoon and that half bagel was not going too far.  We familiarized ourselves with the ship, met at the Sky High bar for the sail away, then left to get dressed for dinner.  We have two tables for the 14 of us and we are changing seats to mix it up.

We forced ourselves to attend the nightly show because we knew if we went back to our cabin we would conk out.  We gained two hours flying out and another hour this morning when we woke up.  The show was three different acts that will have longer performances later on.  It was sort of a preview. We headed to bed afterwards.

The next day we slept until 7:30 which put us on a good schedule.  We joined two couples for breakfast then played Trivia and Scattagories in addition to doing the ship sponsored one mile walk.  After lunch we attended a presentation on the building of the Panama Canal.  This is going to be a big treat sailing through.

We eventually joined the others for dinner and then attended the evening song and dance group performance.  We returned to our cabin afterwards since the show starts at 9:15 and ends close to 10:30.

Saturday morning we played our second game of Progressive Trivia.  We have 28 points out of 40 so far.  It is tough beating a group of USAF doctors on anatomy!  We did our walk again, looked at the photos that have been taken of us so far and just whiled away the afternoon.  We met again for dinner where Ted was presented with a small birthday cake and was sung to by the waiters who sang "Happy  Birthday dear Robert" which cracked us all up.

The show that night was a comedian who had us all laughing so hard we lost our breath.  He is terrific, using the audience as props and his quick quips are pure fun!

Today we docked in Matzalan.  Our itinerary called for Cabo San Lucas but last week's hurricane devastated that port.  Four couples joined up to rent a tour van and driver to show us around.  It was extremely hot so the A/C in the van certainly felt good as we visited the highlights.  We stopped at a jewelry store that had nice bathrooms, free beer, margaritas, pop and water but by the time we left it turned into very expensive water, etc.

Our last stop was at a restaurant right on the beach with great coconut shrimp but no tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, etc. on the menu.  What we eat at home is Tex-Mex and not eaten by real Mexicans.

It was a great day and we sailed away for Puerto Vallarto shortly after our return.

We decided to have dinner at the buffet early and see the earlier show. It was a hypnotist who was OK but I have seen the same sort of program done better.  Afterwards we listened to a Neil Diamond legend singer and then moved on to the martini bar to listen to Oldies.  It was a pretty late night considering we had to spring forward another hour as we sailed back towards the east.

Our day in Puerto Vallarta was a hoot!  Rhonda had arranged a tour guide and van for the day.  The A/C worked great, the cooler was filled with beer, pop and water.  Our driver Carlos was a terrific driver and guide.  We spent over six hours with him.  We visited old town with cobblestone streets, the Romantic District (but I don't know why it is called that), the pedestrian boardwalk along the water, Gringo Gulch and way up and out to the area where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor lived.  There are many condos and homes tucked up in the forested hillsides.

We eventually ended up way, way out at a Tequila Distillery.  By the time we left there a few folks were feeling no pain.  Ted, Gerre and I just observed except for one swallow of a nut creme flavor.  At $37 a bottle we passed on purchasing anything.

We ate lunch at Chico's next to the river where we could watch divers and zipline riders.  It was a nice lunch and we enjoyed another group meal together.

In the previous pictures the diver is ready to enter the water below the falls and he is still curled up above the water in the next.

After lunch we came back to the ship.  I am sure there were a few naps taken before dinner.

Tuesday was another day at sea. We fell one more point behind in Progressive Trivia because my five team members did not believe me when I said I Feel Pretty came from West Side Story.  They said My Fair Lady!

We played a game of Shanghai which I won because I got Shanghai catching Ted, Irene and John in Round Five.  For dinner we all went to the Brazilian Steakhouse to celebrate Ted, Gerre, Rhonda and my birthday.  It was great and we all were sung to by the waitstaff.  Twice now we have received chocolate dipped strawberries in our stateroom from the ship staff after telling them how much we are enjoying the cruise.

After dinner the show was the juggler who made it further than any juggler on America's Got Talent.  He certainly was out of the ordinary and gave an amazing performance.

Wednesday we docked in Huatulca in rain.  We spent a bit of time in our ponchos in the dock area but  the prices were more like Rodeo Drive than a small Mexican village.  We just amused ourselves around the ship playing cards, listening to music, talking with others, etc.

After dinner the singers and dancers put on an impressive show that we all really enjoyed.  Proud Mary, Sweet Caroline, Let It Go, etc. were performed.  We spent some time in a lounge listening to Elvis songs and danced a bit.  We retired earlier because we were getting up early.

Our next port was Puerto Chiapas and we rode a bus into Tapachula.  It is a town of 400,000 but not really a tourist stop.  They did not accept VISA, some would take American dollars but the bank wanted passports to change dollars to pesos.  It was a local downtown and not too much of interest.  We didn't stay long and after using free wifi for a bit, we returned to the ship.

After dinner everyone was tired due to the early start so everyone retired to their staterooms.  Ted was happy because football was on TV!  The next day was another day at sea with another round of Progressive Trivia on the 80s.  We didn't do well because the questions were very specific like "what song won best single in 1984!"

Our next stop was Costa Rica where we went on a tour as a group.  Our first stop was to see the white faced capuchin monkeys.  I was standing aside watching others feed them when one jumped on my back and another ran up my leg!

They actually were very gentle, no scratching or biting and were cute when they didn't startle the heck out of you.  From there we went on the Tarcoles River for a crocodile tour.  Talk about up close and personal.  Our driver Jimmy got out of the boat and coaxed these huge, aggressive animals to within inches of his bare legs and feet!  One was over 18 feet long and I barely got him in the photo.  

After that we had a plate lunch at a Sports Bar that was quite good.  We continued on to a resort way up high where we could get great views.  Three scarlet macaws flew past right below us.  Neat!  A stop at El Jardin gave everyone a chance to souvenir shop, get a drink and use the bathroom.  It was a full, wonderful day and a great way to celebrate my 69th birthday.

When we returned, our room attendant had made me a towel birthday cake and included a bottle of wine.  At dinner the wait staff sang to me and gave me a birthday cake to share.  Ted bought me the robe available here on the ship.  My pink Royal Hawaiian robe has passed its prime.  Great, great day.

Sunday was a sea day and also the Texan/Dallas football game day.  We all gathered in O'Sheehan's Bar to eat lunch, play cards and watch the game.  It was a good game but Dallas won.  We have all been eating together in the evening and then attending the early show.  Entertainment has been excellent for the most part.

Monday was our 10 hour trip through the Panama Canal, a west to east full crossing.  We spent most of the day in the Spinnaker lounge watching the goings on.  What an engineering marvel.  

We had dinner and then saw a terrific show featuring the songs from Jersey Boys, one of the best shows yet.  Afterwards we all went to play Name That Tune where we did just okay.  Karaoke started and Ted, Linda, Irene, Gerre, Barry and I ended up being more of a show than the singers under Tony's tutelage.  He is such a character that Ted and Barry were in tears, Gerre and I were laughing so hard we couldn't catch our breath and Linda just shook her head at Tony's antics.  Such fun with good friends!

Tuesday was spent in Carthagena, Columbia.  We took a tour visiting the monastery high on the hill, the fortress, Our Lady of Candlemas Church, St. Peter Claver Church, Old Town, the Inquisition Museum, Bolivar Square and Boca Grande area.  The hotel in the news again about the Secret Service scandal was pointed out to us.  

Ted with St. Peter Claver SJ and a Columbian-African, the people he came to minister to.

We were gone six hours, missed lunch, so ate around 4:30 as soon as we returned.  We went to the early show which was another great one.  This has been one of the most fun cruises because of the passengers' camaraderie with the performers when brought on stage.  We have really enjoyed the games, performances and the folks we have met.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were final days at sea.  We played cards, ate, attended shows, participated in games, ate some more, etc.  I spent most of Thursday in bed nursing a cold but made it to dinner, the show and to the bar to watch some of the Colts-Texan game (another loss!).

Our last day was spent packing, filling out forms, buying photos, settling accounts, etc.  I learned they called my name Wednesday morning at the Emerald sale to win a small piece of jewelry.  Bummer!  I believe we were playing cards at the time instead of attending.

Saturday morning we were up early, dressed, finished packing, had breakfast and then proceeded to the gangway area to await our debarkation tag color.  I had reserved a bus to take all of us home from the Bayport terminal.  We arrived about 11 am and I spent time doing laundry, checking emails and going through our mail.  At 5:00 we went to church then to Linda's to play Shanghai once more.  Ted and I both came in second at our respective tables.

Today I need to get busy and back into a normal routine.  There are some things that need to be done around the house and we will finally be home long enough to get them done!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Prayers Answered

We passed 9/11 with no problems thank goodness.  But we must remain vigilant.  The world is a scary place.  Just to be on the safe side I did not go to the mall after lunch with my neighbors.  

We had another new neighbor join us.  She is leasing in our neighborhood and waiting for a house to go up for sale.  Things are selling immediately around here and it is difficult to get in on the bidding quickly enough.  The house next to us sold the first day $20,000 over the asking price.  Too bad we are not looking to move right now!

Friday we met Tommy and Susan for a late lunch to get caught up.  They had some difficulty with their motorhome on a trip to Colorado and told us of their Plan B to be sure they would be able to attend the wedding in Denver after getting stuck in Amarillo.  They made and cancelled several air, hotel, car reservations to be on the safe side.  It all worked out and they were able to travel on in the motorhome.  The joys of RVing.

Our card group was down to just four couples Saturday night.  After church we joined the others for an early night of Shanghai.  When we finished, the guys watched football while we gals talked about daycare since two of the others are actively investigating local businesses for their grandchildren.  Not a subject I am well versed in.

I used my time Sunday to get all the laundry done.  Then I put my shoes and jewelry together with the clothes I have ready for packing.  I printed our electronic documents and our baggage tags.  I put a roll of tape with the tags so we can tape them on when we pick them up in LAX.  I don't think paper tags would travel well with all the tossing around so we will just wait.  We do want the bags to end up in our cabin on Deck 9!

We started up the bunco group again after a two month hiatus.  We were short a player and still had three subs.  There is a spot to be filled so we are giving everyone interested a chance to play so when we offer the spot to someone the lady will know if she wants to join us.  Not everyone clicks so we do our best to get folks that will enjoy the group.  I did not win.  : (

When I came home I went to get my hair cut.  It was getting so long on my neck I actually had to use the curling iron to keep it from sticking out like two wayward clumps.  I will get it colored and highlighted before we leave next week.  I have to stay on top of things to keep the flying monkeys in check!

Tuesday I was asked to sub at Canasta in the morning at the country club.  We had lunch afterwards.  Again, I did not win.  : (.  But I came home to a new cleaning crew and they impressed the heck out of me.  The house really needed a good going over because it has not been thoroughly cleaned in so long (sorry Chris!) and getting a lick and promise from me every now and then.  My hip works great except for getting down and crawling around.  Climbing isn't advisable either.  Ted yells at me all the time when I drag chairs over to use.  It will be nice having things all clean and shiny.

I shopped for shoes for the trip since I tossed several pairs recently.  My bunion is getting more and more bothersome.  It doesn't hurt but finding shoes is getting more difficult.  Everyone I know who has had one removed say they wouldn't do it again.  Any advice?

Our monthly Newcomers luncheon, this time with a fashion show, occurred on Thursday.  I usually don't go but Irene and Carol were both models so I went and was glad I did.  There were 150 ladies in attendance and I saw lots of friends.  It rained cats and dogs all morning and made it difficult to arrive looking presentable!  I managed with an umbrella and a ride on a golf cart from the parking lot.  Irene arranged for us to sit at the models' table so we had good seats.

We had our awards meeting for Junior Forum on Friday.  I was assigned coordinating the "fruit" people.  There are also casserole and bread people.  I arranged for blueberries, mango, peaches, melons and grapes to go with the sweet breads, muffins and breakfast casseroles from the others.  I was proud to be recognized for 100 service and support hours for last year.  

The last weekend in March is going to be busy.  At the luncheon Thursday they announced a 35 year anniversary party on that Sunday for Newcomers and at my Friday meeting they announced our annual Gala being on that last Saturday in March.  Two dinner and dancing events in one weekend?  I may get some push back from Ted!  

Last night we saw Guys and Dolls at the community theater after having dinner with Gerre and Barry where Gerre and I exchanged birthday gifts. Having to take the Czech lead crystal piece out of my luggage each time at security, I didn't want to take it through one more time going to LAX!  Ted, Gerre and I will all celebrate birthdays in one week's time on the ship.

The play was terrific and the voices of the four lead stars were outstanding.  They all did an excellent job.  The weekend after we return it will be time for the next show.  They have a great line up this year.  We always miss January and July but we give those tickets away and still feel seeing the other five makes it worthwhile being a season ticket holder.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cool Front - Only Going Up To 90!

Living in the south produces some silly weather reports.  I remember FL - "clear and cold tonight, bring in your pets - 50 degrees."  We try to avoid the summer heat but travel schedules sometimes cause that to change.  I am just staying in when I can.  We did eat outside after church on Saturday with Terry and Carol.  It was actually a beautiful evening and it was fun catching up.

I spent Sunday getting ready for Canasta here on Monday.  I made the Chocolate Lasagna cake that I needed to make for Tuesday also.  It just seemed like a good idea to do a trial run with the recipe Junior Forum provided me.  

We had a new mix of ladies to play Canasta that were learning so they stayed at one table and I didn't get to talk much to them.  I hope they liked it and come back.  AND I won!  But I sent folks home with chicken salad sandwiches, cheese cubes, artichoke dip and no one ate any cake!  I was not about to make a second one for Tuesday so I was glad I made it in a foil pan with a lid.  It was going to the Senior Bingo and Lunch with me on Tuesday!

Ted had gone to Beaumont Monday so I was alone for the night.  Even Tucker went home.  He knows when Gerre and Barry ring the bell.  I don't know how but his response is different than when anyone else rings the doorbell.  It takes me a day or two to stop looking for him.

Tuesday was an "out the door by 7:45 am" morning.  I put the cake in a pan of ice to keep it cool since it was a lot of pudding and cool whip.  My bingo prize was 4 dishcloths and 2 matching dishtowels.   I picked them up this summer somewhere along the way.  I was hostess at Table 22 which was 7 ladies and one man.  In this setting that sort of makes him George Clooney!  

We had close to 200 seniors to visit while having coffee and juice, to play bingo, to be entertained by a couple singing show tunes and then have lunch.  My friend Joanne came by to visit with me for a few minutes.  Her husband Dwight is in a nursing home and she lives in senior housing in the area.  We are always hapoy to see one another.  Once they finish their lunch and dessert, the seniors are out the door.  I took a little piece of the cake that was left to taste it and it was pretty good!  After my busy 3 days I was tired when I got home and didn't do much.  Ted fixed dinner and I cleaned up.

Ted is very busy today.  He left for the men's neighborhood lunch, then went to the bank and is now at the doctor getting a new prescription for his antacid medicine before we leave again.  At 5:30 we are due at the country club for happy hour, dinner and cards.  Tomorrow is the lady's neighborhood luncheon.  Food, food, food!

Tomorrow is 9/11.  Please pray our country suffers no attack big or small.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

I Can't Get Turned Around

I am still falling asleep around 8 pm and getting up at 4 or 5 am.  Coming west is supposed to be easier than going east but for some reason this time it isn't working.  By the time I am on track I will be heading two hours west to LAX to start another trip!  I may become best friends with the early, early breakfast crew!

I did all the laundry the first day and my clothes are laid out on the bed ready for packing.  I went through the mail and have all that in order.  I filled out my GCT questionnaire and told them I was unhappy with KLM, did not appreciate confronting a young man who had walked onto our open bus in a rest area when the driver is supposed to stay with the bus or lock it.  It wasn't their fault but the late wake up call in Prague could have caused a problem for the travelers scheduled to go to the airport with us.  Other than that the trip was terrific, the food fabulous and our Program Director excellent.  If you don't let them know about the "bumps" they can't fix them.

I received a new roster for bunco and had some work to do on that.  We have a place to fill but several people are interested so that will be taken care of soon.  Everyone has the new info and we are good   through June 2015.

I did lose a day somewhere.  Wednesday night is Happy Hour with friends and I was amazed when on Thursday morning Ted told me I couldn't go because it was the night before!  I also received an email saying Canasta is at my house on Monday.  Sure enough I have Canasta written on my calendar but no indication it was here!  Not a problem though.  I am sure I signed up and just didn't add that info to the recurring Canasta date that gets entered automatically.

Should I be getting worried?  Am I getting forgetful or running on overload?  

Thursday we went to Sam's for paper products and I got most of what I need for Canasta.  Yesterday we hit the post office with a box of new baby clothes I purchased at the thrift shop where I volunteer.  My niece in Indiana has 3 kids and will have six grandchildren under 3.5 years old by January.  Twin girls were born last week.  A boy is coming in October and another girl in January.  I told her to give out the clothes based on sex, size and season.  We get lots of baby clothes at the thrift store with tags still in them.  A $20 Nike 3T shirt was $1.99.  In our family, someone can always use these things.  Jameson and Lilly already have some things I sent previously and enjoy Aunt Donna's boxes.

After the post office we ate at Sweet Tomatoes.  We came home and I stayed up until 9 but was snoozing on the couch before then.  I made it to 5 am this morning.  We have Tucker this week and he gets confused trying to decide if he should stay in bed with Ted or follow me to the family room!

Things gear up again next week.  I have commitments to accomplish before we head out again.