Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Blue Skies, Nothing But Blue Skies

It's time to take to the skies again. I'm heading to Florida this morning to spend a week with Kristin. Instead of Orlando I'm flying into Daytona Beach. When we were there after our cruise, we helped her with the design of her new kitchen. She bought an older home on a lake and has been remodeling it ever since. The kitchen of course is the biggest job.

A lot of the work is already done. I had my trip to the valley and the retirement weekend to attend before I could go so the removal of the tile floor, repair of plumbing and electric, and installation of the cabinets and microwave have all taken place. We'll be looking at granite for the countertops, purchasing a new range and checking out floor tile this week. Then there's the business of putting it all back together! We also are making cornices for the living room and covering the dining chairs. I hope we get it all done in a week's time.

Of course this means I have a week to spend with my friend Eileen too. Kristin will be working during the day so Eileen and I can work together on the house things and then run like we used to when I lived in the area.

Ted is staying home. We tried to remember the last time we spent a week apart and couldn't. I've gone to stay with Kara when the babies were born but he would bounce in and out on business so I don't think a week went by without seeing him. We are constant companions in retirement so I know he is going to be lonely and miss me this week. I'll miss him too but I'll have a lot to keep me busy. He is flying to Denver on Monday and we'll fly back home arriving within minutes of each other so he won't have too many days to fill in my absence.

Back at y'all in April!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Great Camping Weekend

The funeral luncheon scheduled at church earlier in the week was canceled so I had a few days to myself. I cleaned the linen closet and wrapped packages of the "bargains" from the valley and Mexico for my daughter and my sister-in-law and took them to the post office. I finished the ironing and kept my hair and nail appointments.

On Thursday I attended my neighborhood ladies' luncheon in Old Town Spring. They have decided that we should each choose a "pal" and just buy a gift for that person for their birthday and Christmas instead of everyone receiving a present from everyone else. So I won't need to use the rally room at Rayford for the October luncheon. We'll have enough room at any restaurant.

On Friday we left for our weekend at Rayford. There were 35-40 rigs in for Jay's retirement as the Houston area leader of the Texas Boomers. We arrived around noon and visited with those that had arrived. We chose to stay in for dinner and had crab cakes and cheese ravioli because of Lent.

Saturday started with a potluck breakfast in the rally room. Camping World was represented and several door prizes were given as well as bags that contained nice gifts for each rig in attendance . The whole day was devoted to Jay's time with the Boomers and specifically his time as Houston area leader. In the afternoon LeAnne and I went shoe shopping. When we returned, we rehearsed a skit Ted and I were performing.

Madame Boomer had asked members to send in retirement jokes that could be used at the party. She sent them to me and asked if Ted and I would put them together into a skit as part of the entertainment. LeAnne and Bob helped us with props and music and everyone seemed to enjoy it.

After a great brisket/pulled pork/sausage/turkey dinner from PitMaster, a DVD was shown of the past several years of Boomer activities. It's amazing how quickly the years have passed and it was heartwarming to see the pictures and heartbreaking to see those we have lost over the years. All in all, it was a great party.

We had decided to stay Sunday night too so I would have time to clean the RV really good. After church we had LeAnne and Jim over for breakfast and then I started on the inside. I did a good thorough cleaning. There was an ice cream social mid afternoon and we attended since we ate breakfast late and it would carry us to dinner. Only Jay & Stella went with us.

Ted questioned what we would have for dinner Sunday since we hadn't planned to stay over. I reminded him we had hot dogs and buns that were used as props in the skit and a can of Wolf chili plus some shredded cheese I had used in my breakfast casserole. Besides Jay & Stella and LeAnne & Jim, Pauline & Bernest stayed over too. So we pooled our food and had chili dogs, beans and fritos for dinner along with a bottle of Riesling that had been left behind in the rally room refrigerator.

The wind started to get cool and everyone had TV shows they wanted to watch so everyone headed back to their own RV. We will probably get a chance to say goodbye to Jay & Stella in the morning but Pauline and Bernest have to go to work and Jim & LeAnne have a 9 o'clock appt. so we probably will be gone by the time they return. We have no camping plans until the end of May. Right now we are leaning toward spending Memorial Day at Rayford and heading to Cincinnati on Tuesday, May 26. That could easily change so stay tuned.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring has Re-Sprung

Finally, after four days of rain, the sun is out, the sky is blue and the temperature is near 80. Isn't it terrible that four days of rain can cause everyone to be grumpy, yours truly included?

I've seen bluebonnets, Indian paintbrush, primrose, petunias, pansies, snapdragons, redbud trees, pear trees, all in bloom. It just didn't look quite right in 50 degree, wet, cold and gloomy weather.

After church and a trip to Walgreen's yesterday we stayed home. Ted left for Fort Worth this morning and I played bunco with my group at 10 a.m. When I left around 12:30 the beautiful sunshine was back and was so very welcome.

Nothing much else going on but this quote from the Robert Browning poem Pippa Passes came to mind:

The year's at the spring,

And day's at the morn;

Morning's at seven;

The hill-side's dew-pearled;

The lark's on the wing;

The snail's on the thorn;

God's in his Heaven -

All's right with the world!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

This and That

Here's the picture the Kraft people took at Borderfest of me and the Kool-Aid pitcher. I didn't think it was a real person but it was!

For those of you worrying about us smuggling drugs, let me clarify that it is OK to bring non-narcotic drugs sold without prescriptions in Mexico across the border. My daughter was worried about having to come bail us out of jail on one side of the river or the other. We declare them at customs and there is no problem.

Ted got up early Wednesday to take the truck to be washed and waxed. He arrived to no one being there. Eventually one fellow came who didn't speak English. Since Ted's Spanish isn't as good as mine; i.e., I can use my hands to talk much better, he gave up and came back to the park.

We pulled out about 10:30 and headed to Victoria. We have found this town almost maddening to navigate. There were three maps of the city on three different campground ads and they all were different! There is a circle freeway that was referred to as 463, 483 and 77. One map indicated it is a proposed road (it is finished). Then there is 77, 77 business, 59 and 59 business. We eventually made our way to north of town to the park. Since there was no fuel north of us until Hallettsville we decided to unhitch to fuel up and eat dinner out.

There is no recession in Victoria! We went to Texas Roadhouse and there wasn't an empty table in the whole place on a Wednesday night. And they stayed full the whole time we were there.

We woke up to drizzle and left the park about 8:30 Thursday morning. The further we went, the harder it rained and the colder it got. We tried a new way, 77 straight north to Giddings and east on 290. There is a bridge under construction the other way we go and it was very close between the concrete barriers. We decided not to mess with that again. We pulled into the storage place about 12:15 so it was just as quick a way to come. My Expedition was parked in our spot so I backed it out, Ted parked the RV and we loaded up our things and headed home.

Friday was absolutely miserable and I never ventured out. I don't think it got much above 50 and it rained all day. Saturday morning the rain stopped and Ted was able to shoot skeet before it started again. He came home and we went to Sam's to get a new phone set. Our phones are six years old and giving us trouble. We got one with three handsets working off one base so we're back in business.

We heard from our daughter who attended Anne's funeral in Cincinnati. She was so proud of her Irish heritage and she also always wore a hat to match her outfit. So she was buried in a green blazer with her hat sitting in the casket. Her flowers were belles of Ireland and the ribbons were white with shamrocks. The hat was placed on the casket as it was rolled down the aisle for Mass. There was no visitation and no graveside service at her request. What she did request was a shot of Jack Daniels for everyone at her wake and that's just what they did. I can't begin to tell you how much she will be missed.

I have a pot of tortellini soup cooking for dinner. It's still cold and wet outside and just a good soup night. We are staying in and hoping for better weather. The bluebonnets are blooming all along 242 but you wouldn't know it was spring by the temperature. Maybe we left the valley too early!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

In Memory of Anna Mae Keehan Sullivan

We received word today that Ted's Aunt Anne passed away last night. She was 97 but as spritely as someone 20 years younger. Her chief complaint was that she couldn't Charleston like she used to. I'm sure she's cutting a rug on Heaven's Dance Floor right now.

We tried all morning to find decent priced or frequent flyer tickets from Houston to Cincinnati but had no luck. There are very few seats available and those are $900-$1100 each. Ted's cousin told him not to worry about not being able to make it to Cincinnati. She realizes we are 8 hours away from home with the RV and the time and money involved is too much to ask. We are saddened that we will not be there to see everyone and to honor Anne's memory which she so richly deserves.

Yesterday we attended the HitchHiker Owners Winter Texan Luncheon. We learned HitchHiker is going to resume production after a 6 month hiatus and the national rally will be held in the fall. That's all good news and if the politicians will send us our money back, we could buy a new RV and truck!

For dinner I cleaned out the refrigerator. We had steak, chicken, pork tenderloin, hot dogs, meatballs and spaghetti, tuna casserole, nachoes, sliced tomatoes and Stella baked some potato skins. Sort of a goofy meal but we all had plenty to eat. For dessert Stella made pina colada ice cream drinks that were really good.

Today they came to wash and wax our RV and Jay's. Five guys spent two hours scrambling all over both of them. They did a great job. Tomorrow Ted is having the truck washed and waxed before we leave. Then he'll be happy. He has accomplished his goals ... get the RV and truck washed and waxed and our Texas sign refinished. It doesn't take a lot to please him!

This afternoon we drove to the fruit market and bought more tomatoes, grapefruits and oranges. Tonight we are going to Hooters for our last dinner since Judy has never been to one. I offered to serve her a beer wearing a low cut tank top but everyone thought there would be a lot lost in the short shorts department! Stella made soup and cornbread for lunch so I'm not going to be hungry at five so I'll probably just get an appetizer. But we'll have a great send off dinner. We hope to come to the valley next year for a month.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Wrap Up Weekend

We received requests for some meds and a special purse from Progreso so we made another trip over to Mexico. This is the city monument as you walk off the bridge.

We went to the same pharmacy to get the requested meds and I bought some Amoxycillin and Septra to keep on hand while we're traveling in case a need arises. Last year I had to call my doctor in Texas for a Septra prescription when I developed a UTI. I hope we don't need to use any of them. It will be worth the $9 to be able to flush them away in a year.

The purse created quite a story. I found a big one as requested by my sister-in-law for $20 but wanted to walk a few blocks to see if any others were available. After several blocks on either side we came upon a man with smaller versions on his arm. I told him "necessito un muy grande." My version of "I need a bigger one" - probably close but probably not quite accurate. He understood though and motioned for me to follow him. He took me back to the same girl and said the purse was $28. I told him I already had a price of $20 and the girl nodded agreeing with me. He dropped to $22 and Ted said $20. He said $21 and Ted said $20. Ted gave him $20 but he kept arguing. So I put the purse down and Ted reached to take his $20 back. The man didn't want that so he sort of relented and I took the purse. He kept following us saying he needed $1 and then 50 cents as "commission." We all just kept going and finally he told Ted he was a "cheep-a-skate." This sent us into gales of laughter. We walked across the bridge and this time stopped for the two for $2 banana splits. They were made in one half of a hot dog styrofoam container and were just enough.

We came back to the RV for lunch and then headed west to the Los Ebanos Ferry. This is a hand pulled ferry that takes three cars and however many foot passengers are there. It only takes a few minutes to get to the other side and we didn't even disembark, just rode the ferry back. We told Jay and Stella they had taken a "Mexican cruise" and I had a picture to prove it.

We came home for dinner and we all sat outside with Tom & Judy and neighbor Ivan until it got dark and the wind picked up. Cheep-a-skate and I called it a night.

Saturday there was a parkwide garage sale. Ted and I walked all around. He bought a sander he needs to use on some rolls of paper that got wet up in Fort Worth and I bought two brand new pairs of shoes for Kelly for $2. They were $2 and $1 but the lady told me to just give her $2. Another good buy!

We had skipped breakfast so we could eat at Gonzales, a favorite winter Texas burger place. They are open from 11-2 six days a week and only serve hamburgers that are six inches across! I couldn't begin to eat a whole one but everyone else finished theirs. We arrived at 10:50 and didn't get our burgers for almost an hour. This place is POPULAR and BUSY and certainly well worth the visit.

In the afternoon we went to find the Chevrolet museum located in the Knapp Chevrolet dealership ... except it is now Gillman which caused some consternation. Then we found the cars had been moved and we went in search of them. We found them but the museum is not open yet. Ted, who always thinks it is easier to seek forgiveness than permission, tried the side door and just walked in. We met Mr. Cooley who owned Knapp and owns the cars. There were several Corvettes, an El Camino and a 29 Chevrolet there but most are still in storage as they prepare the display space. Mr. Cooley was quite a character and we talked for a long time. We promised him we would come back next year.

We returned to the park and prepared to leave for the Chicken House Opry. They served a brisket sandwich, beans and drink before the show. I really enjoyed it because they had skits, comediennes, cowboy poets as well as music and singing. Ted was all excited because one performer did T for Texas a Jimmie Rodgers song and then sang another song mentioning Jimmie Rodgers. I knew he would talk to him at intermission and he did. I really enjoyed the evening.

Sunday we went to the San Juan Shrine again for the English Mass. It was still a mixture of English, Spanish and Latin but we're getting good at this. There are 10 mariachi members in the band. They are all dressed in burgundy and gold and are very good.

We came home and had breakfast and then headed to Borderfest in Hidalgo.

We saw the animal show, the steel drum band, a pipe and drum corp, and a few others. We visited the Kraft booth and received one of the new fabric shopping bags, a package of jello, Ritz crackers, Oreo cookies and Capri Sun. I had my picture take with the Kool-Aid pitcher but it's not on line yet. Then we went to Colgate Palmolive and received Irish Spring, Colgate toothpaste and Irish Spring bath gel. We were given a chance to spin a wheel and I won a $20 HEB card! Stella wanted a funnel cake but changed her mind when she learned they were $6. We decided for that we could eat out. We ended up at Martha's outside our park and got home in time to watch Amazing Race. Our time is growing short.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Settled In

We've been staying a little closer to home the past few days. Wednesday we went back to the fruit market for more pineapple, watermelon, grapefruit and oranges. Then we went looking for the ropa nuevos. Ropa usadas have a mixture of clothes in a huge pile sold by the pound and ropa nuevos are mostly new clothes hung on racks, sort of a Mexican version of T J Maxx, Marshall's and Ross. We saw new Levi jackets and jeans for $3 and Haggar ($60 & $70), Lee and Docker slacks for $2. I bought 4 pairs of slacks (Dockers and Lee), a sweater, 2 blouses, a dress for Morgan, handkerchiefs for Ted, all brand new for $19. We've decided we need to come to the valley once a year to buy our clothes at the ropas and our medicine in Mexico so we will be able to afford retirement under Obama and his great giveaway programs. We stopped at Furr's Buffet for a late lunch/early dinner on the way home.

Thursday a fellow Texas Boomer came for a visit. Bob was here on business and stopped by before he headed to Laredo. At lunchtime he invited all of us to join him but we were waiting for a fellow who was to wash and wax our RV due here at 1 p.m. They left and returned before the fellow ever showed up and then he decided it was too windy and he couldn't do it so we rescheduled for next Tuesday when he will do Jay's also. Ted tackled the DTV boxes and got the second one hooked up. Now they both have boxes and we can get separate channels on each one. Thank you to Rick for the wiring set up that made it possible.

I invited Jay & Stella to share our meatballs and spaghetti for dinner and they accepted. We aren't provided a picnic table so we use the small table we travel with. However, it doesn't allow a lot of room to sit dishes on. We had our salads and garlic bread then had to take things away to serve the rest. Stella made a sugar free white chocolate pie for dessert.

Thursday is our big TV night with Survivor, CSI and ER so we all went in right at 7 pm. We're already into our second week and we have a busy weekend planned. Stay tuned for info on the Chicken Opry, Borderfest and the HitchHiker Winter Texan luncheon.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

More Days in the Valley

Monday we headed to Harlingen after the fellows took the propane tanks to get filled. All three of them took bottles and Jay thought he was carrying so much propane that he probably needed a sticker on the truck.

We went to the Iwo Jima memorial at the Marine Museum in Harlingen. This is the original working model created by Felix W. de Weldon to make the bronze memorial that is in Washington, DC. Also here is the grave of Cpl. Harlon H. Block, one of the men depicted, birthplace Weslaco, TX (here in the valley), and killed in action on Iwo Jima on 3/1/1945. He was not identified immediately but his mother kept insisting that was her son and not the person the Marines had identified. Eventually they admitted their mistake and identified Cpl. Block as one of the men raising the flag.

We came back and were able to grill out because the wind was not gusting. It's hard to keep the small propane grill lit when it is so windy.

I watched the marathon "Bachelor" finale and can only say that Jason needs to realize that since he is half of all these "failed relationships" that probably he is part of the problem!

Tuesday we drove to South Padre Island. Ted wanted to hear 12-String Tim play and Jay wanted to eat the seafood buffet at Louie's Backyard on the water. Tim plays there on Tuesday so it all worked out. We drove around the island that has had considerable growth in the past few years and strolled along the beach. Everything happens early here so we were at Louie's before 4:00 when the music started and the restaurant part opened. Tim was very good and we enjoyed his music. There is a webcam at Louie's and Ted called Kara to get on line. She and the kids were able to see us waving at them and talk to us on the phone at the same time. We've done this at the Hilton Waikoloa in Hawaii also but the time difference there makes it harder.

Ted, Stella and Jay enjoyed a great seafood buffet but I opted for a grilled chicken early bird special. We had a coupon for a piece of cake and we ordered it with four forks. It was huge and we all ate on it some but Ted finished it off.

It was just after 7:00 when we got back and it was the first time we needed the number to open the gate. Our time is passing quickly as it always does when you're having fun.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sunday, A Day of Rest

We headed to the Basilica of San Juan of the Valley for 10:30 Mass. When we arrived, there was a large sign outlining the new Mass schedule starting today! We were there at 10:03 for a Mass that would begin at 11:00 ... and it would be in Spanish. We used the time to tour around the shrine and observed a lot of rituals that we haven't seen since pre-Vatican II days in the 1950s. There were rows and rows of candles being lit, lines of people waiting to go to confession and many people with plastic jugs to fill with holy water.

Between the English phrases thrown in, the little Spanish I know and the Latin I remember, I was able to keep abreast of the Mass. I simply answered the prayers quietly in English. The cadence of many of the prayers is the same no matter the language. There was at least a dozen members of a mariachi band that played the music. It was quite a "cultural experience."

We came home, had some lunch and were snoozing during the golf tournament on TV when Stella called and asked us to go to the rally hall to play Mexican Train. We were very careful not to get into trouble. A banjo player was coming to entertain and we didn't know if we would be made to leave or pay the $3 to stay. We kept the door to the card room closed and no one bothered us. We finished up just as the ice cream social started. Ted got some ice cream and brought it home for after dinner.

After watching the Amazing Race we had a light dinner and watched a movie before heading to bed.

Across the Border

After 96 degrees on Friday, Saturday dawned cold and rainy. We had breakfast at the rally hall here in the park and then left for the Don-Wes flea and produce market. Ted wanted to have our cedar sign repainted and sanded by the guy who made it and we wanted to buy some produce. We bought lots of good things to eat.

The weather cleared so we took everything back to the RV and left for Progreso, Mexico. Jay and Stella went to the pharmacy for their prescription drugs. I forgot my Lipitor so got enough to last until I get home. We stopped at the liquor store and got a couple bottles then walked back across the bridge. We had our passports with us and after June 2009 it will be mandatory that you have a passport.

We went to Martha's Restaurant next to the park for dinner and then stopped at the rally hall to play bingo. I got in trouble for not wearing my badge. They gave me one to wear so I was Larry L. from Tennessee for the games. Then Ted banged his bingo card to remove the red windows from over the numbers and the whole crowd yelled at him. Stella and I were in hysterics laughing. We figured we would get thrown out for disrupting the games. We think we're too "immature" to fully appreciate these types of parks! Stella won $1 and that was all the winning that was done.

This Side of the Border

Friday we followed Jay's GPS which took us to the city hall of Donna, TX, not the post office. We decided their sign was probably better than the USPS one so we took our picture there.

Then we went to the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge for Jay and Stella's Senior Passes for national parks and COE camping. We watched the video, took in several displays and stood by the bird feeders for a little while but didn't see any special birds.

Then it was off to Pepe's on the River. The old one has closed down and there is a brand new one next door. No more "all you can eat catfish and shrimp" and pitchers of Margartias are now $12 but we still had a ball. Ted and I put our waltz lessons from the cruise into practice and waltzed to "Waltz Across Texas With You." I love that song and was so pleased that they played it while we were there. Since it was Friday we had the catfish and shrimp dinner. I wouldn't have asked for any more but Ted said he would have had some more shrimp if it was still all you can eat. This is the view across the Rio Grande looking at Mexico.

Then we went in search of the ropa usadas. These are warehouses filled with literally mountains of clothes. There is everything there imaginable for sale by the pound. One of Ted's RV net reviewers got a full length mink and a silver fox coat for 45 cents a pound. I was amazed that they used a construction front end loader to add clothes to the mountain. Some are new with tags, some have dry cleaner tags, others are over runs, etc.

I found a pair of Thinsulate gloves, a Docker golf shirt, lined black pants (for a friend - they were size 4), a pair of slacks with tags still on them for my daughter, a robe and two blouses. Grand total $2.25. If even just one of the items works out, it was a bargain and the most 15 minutes of fun I've had in a long time. There are other buildings with things on racks that we may find time to visit. Rumor has it they have lots from JCP and Kohl's. It will need to be a big bargain to beat my last trip.

We eventually came back to the campground tired but happy with our day's adventures.