Saturday, December 31, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggidy Jig

We arrived in Celina Wednesday afternoon and soon Dan came home from work. He has been doing short days. We were both relieved to see him looking better and doing well. We waited for Brandon to come home and then took them to JTs, their favorite restaurant, for dinner. I was so tired I couldn't make it through the news and gave up and went to bed.

We lingered over coffee in the morning and took off before noon. We made a stop in Findlay at Jaqua Fine Guns and had lunch at Cracker Barrel. Then we drove on to Centerville and found Peter and Ethleon in amazing health for a couple in their 90s. They were so happy to see us and we them! We visited for a couple hours, said our goodbyes and left for Cincinnati.

We had a 5 o'clock reservation to meet up with my friends. Donna #3 was sick and had said she couldn't come. When Donna #1 (I'm Donna #2 based on birthdays) arrived with Jerry, she said Cookie was sick so she and Butch wouldn't be there, so the four of us had a great time catching up since this past summer. Donna's steak and Ted's steak were not as requested so they both got entire new dinners and then they comped the dinner for both of them! A nice gesture from Texas Longhorn and made the evening even better.

We took it easy Friday until it was time to go to Ted's sister Kathy's house. His brother Kevin and Barb also came. We had Skyline chili for dinner and plates of cookies! Once again, we never moved from the table and sat talking until 11:30. His sister Peg didn't get away from her grandson's birthday party early enough to stop by. We see whomever we can when in town but with so many, we just can't see them all.

Saturday we found a message from Peg asking us to lunch but it was 4:00 o'clock by then. Ted called her back and apologized but I'm sure she was plenty busy anyway. We went to Mass and then to the Bier Haus (pretzel bread, turtle soup, hot bacon slaw, potato pancakes - this German girl's dream!) for dinner. Cindy, Tim, Ann, Todd and Nick joined the four of us. We expected them to come back to the house but Brian brought Jameson to the restaurant for Cindy & Tim to take home to watch and Ann & Todd had to deliver Nick (home on leave from the Air Force) to a party in Indiana. So the four of us went home, put the pies away and waited for the ball to drop. We were all in bed by 12:05!

We took off about 8 o'clock the next morning and made it all the way to Benton, AR just south of Little Rock. After a dinner at Western Sizzler, we watched some TV and turned in early. Today we arrived home about 2:30 pm. Ted has a sore shoulder so I'm doing the unpacking. I have things to do until Friday so the decorations will probably stay put until the weekend.

It was a great trip and wonderful Christmas but we're glad to be home.

Happy New Year to all my blog friends. I hope you will continue to read along in 2012.

It well may be that we will never meet again in this lifetime
So let me say before we part
So much of me is made from what I learned from you
You'll be with me like a handprint on my heart
And now whatever way our stories end
I know you have re-written mine
By being my friend...

Beautiful lyrics from "For Good" from Wicked.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Some Christmas Photos from Kara

This is a note written by Ted for Santa to Morgan and Sam. We are going to have it matted and framed to be put out every year so the kids will always have a sample of their Poppa's writing.

Date Night and Moving On

Keeping the day after Christmas relatively free was a good idea. Everyone was tired and not having to get dressed and be somewhere was a welcome relief. Allen and I put the Barbie Dream Townhouse together while still in our PJs. Morgan was so excited. She was so good in understanding that no one had time on Christmas Day to put it together. Sam worked on his stealth planes made of Legos. The kid is going to be an engineer. Ted took this opportunity to go to Great Lakes Gun Club. His Christmas present is being made in Milwaukee and won't be ready for awhile yet. Mine is sitting out in the drive.

We planned to go see Christmas lights and to exchange two things at Coldwater Creek in the evening but Kara got to not feeling well so we ate leftovers and kept our feet up.

Tuesday after the kids' dentist appointments, we went to Coldwater Creek. They had given Kara a wrong size for me and the top I bought Kristin was too big. We were able to get the correct size for both of us and another top for me for just $20 because of the sale prices. I also bought a $240 coat for $85. The one I am wearing was a gift from Jaime, our Mexican foreign exchange student, in 1993. When you only wear it one week a year at most, it takes a long time to wear out. Actually it is still fine but a change was in order.

We all started getting ready for our "dates" as soon as we arrived home. Four of us were going to the Detroit Opera House to see Wicked. That was Allen & Kara and Sam & me, my first date with my only grandson. Grandpa, on the other hand, was taking his three granddaughters, Cassie, Ally and Morgan, to the movies to see Arthur's Christmas and to Pizza Hut for dinner. Kelly and Pat took advantage of not having to cook dinner for the family and exchanged some gifts and ate at Red Robin.

Wicked was sensational and I'm so glad I went. The Opera House is right across from Comerica Park and Ford Field. The Fox Theater is on the next block. This area of Detroit is still very nice and they have built townhomes and lofts that are quite attractive. I wish them well in bringing the city back to what it was during it's glory days.

Today we move on to Celina, OH to visit with my brother. He had a pacemaker put in and then developed pneumonia. He is still not "up to snuff" and we are anxious to see him and his family.

Tomorrow we will leave there and hopefully be able to visit with the Thomson's in Centerville. They recently celebrated their 67th anniversary. They married on the day Ted was born. When Peter retired in 1984, Ted took his place and we've been like family ever since. Last Christmas Peter was hospitalized and we were unable to see him. While I was in Florida this past summer, Ted drove up from Cincinnati and took them to lunch. They were both doing well then.

Our three nights in Cincinnati are filled. Thursday night is dinner with my two friends Donna and Cookie and their husbands. We are going to Ted's sister Kathy's house on Friday for dinner and to see his family. New Year's Eve will be spent with my sister and her family.

New Year's Day will find us heading south. We have a very busy 2012 planned and we need to get home to start it.

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called "Opportunity" and its first chapter is New Year's Day. ~ Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Wishing you all a healthy and happy new year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas 2011

Our timing was perfect. We had just pulled into the cell phone lot when Kristin called and said she was in. We drove to Arrivals to pick her up and winged our way to Troy. We stopped at Kelly's to drop off Kristin and to have lunch because Kara was not home yet. Afterwards we all went to Kara's for her delicious spaghetti dinner. That evening I wrapped the gifts I had sent directly to Kara's house.

Friday morning I resumed my bowling career. It started on the 10 alleys in the basement of St. Bonaventure School when I was about 10 years old. It ended in 2001 when I moved to Texas and was in need of a hip replacement. Ted, Kristin, Ally, Allen, Sam, Morgan and I decided to give it a whirl. Let's just say I was about 40 pins off my average. I would have done better if I had used my own ball that Ted gave me as a gift for my 19th birthday. It's in our garage on the new shelves!

Friday evening we all went to Greenfield Village's Holiday Celebration. Greenfield Village is part of the Henry Ford Museum complex in Dearborn, MI and is a great place to visit. We rode the carousel, took a wagon ride and stood around open fires and sang Christmas songs with strolling minstrels. We helped the group in the Stephen Foster house by ringing bells while they played.

A big hit was Santa Claus who was on a balcony of a big home but I don't remember whose. There were ladies in red velvet in the audience and they had direct contact with Santa. Imagine the kids' surprise when he called out "Merry Christmas, Morgan and Sam. I'm so glad you could come tonight."

We ate at the Taste of History restaurant and then went to the train exhibition that Sam loved. A friend sent an old Lionel train set with me for Sam and he's been playing with it every day. This gave him all sorts of ideas to expand his set. We watched the glass blowers make candy cane ornaments and beautiful candy cane bowls. The last sight was fireworks before leaving for home.

Christmas Eve we all attended Mass at St. Mary's of the Hills where our son-in-law Patrick lectored. It was a nice service, not too crowded and we were all able to sit together. Afterwards we went to Kelly's for a great dinner. Pat's family was there too and after dinner we left so they could have their family gift exchange. There was much to do back at the ranch in anticipation of Santa's arrival. Kristin spent the night so she would be here in the morning for the kids' Christmas.

I was up first and soon everyone was ready for what turned into a 2.5 hour present opening marathon. Morgan said she must have been on the nice list all year long.

We finished none too soon to get ready for our 2 pm guests' arrival. Kristin's friend Sheetal came as well as Kara and Allen's friend Bill. Kara fixed her traditional and wonderful Christmas meal which we all enjoyed.

All the girls played Barbies with Morgan and had a great time laughing at Awkward Family Photos on a calendar Sheetal gave Kristin. We had a great Christmas with the family.

“The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.”

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hitting the Road

My bunco group celebrated their 11th Christmas together at the home of one of our newer members.

She has the most fantastic home and her decorations for the holidays are over the top. Everything was so beautiful.

She served a lovely lunch prepared by her husband after we played Christmas Jeopardy. We used our scores to determine order of choice of presents. When we left, the hostess had a filled candy jar for each of us. Ted had driven me there, waited with the hatch up on my car, and filled the entire back with groceries from the group. He then took them to the food pantry at church.

Carol drove me home, I changed clothes and we were off. We drove to Marshall, checked in to a Days Inn then went to eat. We drove to the "Winter Wonderland" display on the courthouse square afterwards. I've read about this in magazines and always wanted to come see it. They had train rides, carriage rides, a rocking horse ride, bounce house slides, ice rink and food vendors all nestled around the old court house that is all lit up with music playing. There were lots of people out enjoying themselves.

We had a reservation in Memphis but changed it to Jackson TN and drove there on Tuesday. With Ted's Hilton status we were given a room on the concierge level. Their executive lounge was across the hall. It had started to rain so we stayed in enjoying coconut shrimp and the company of the hostess in the room, Barbara. Others joined us and we had a great evening without leaving the hotel.

There was a wonderful breakfast the next morning which we imbibed in then left for Cincinnati. We stopped in Shepherdsville at the Zappo's shoe outlet that we visited this past summer. Everything was 70% off and we bought two pairs of boots and two pairs of shoes for $135, saving over $400! Merry Christmas to us!

We stopped at Sam's on the way in for goetta for Kara and found the noise cancelling headphones Patrick wanted. Their gas was $2.89 while Speedway next door was $3.39. Yikes! It pays to shop around. We filled up and drove to Karen's. We spent a quiet evening after a dinner of Ronnie's chili and a Christmas movie.

We timed our departure the next morning to pick up Kristin at the Detroit airport on our way to Kara's.

"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childhood days, recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth, and transport the traveler back to his own fireside and quiet home !"- Charles Dickens

Friday, December 16, 2011

♫ ♫ Over The River and Through The Woods ♫ ♫

One party to go and we're off! Today I don't have to be anywhere - woohoo! We are going to dinner tonight with Gerre and Barry, and I am shopping for one last gift, but my social services are caught up. I will finish the year with 32 of my required 50 hours under my belt. I've already plotted my remaining 18 in the new year.

Terry and Carol came for dinner on Tuesday. Ted grilled pork tenderloins and I made wild rice, corn, green beans, cole slaw, cranberry jello, apples and cucumbers. Can you tell I was cleaning out the refrigerator as I went? I had mint chocolate chip ice cream and was going to serve Gerre's Christmas cookies but Carol brought the rest of her apple cake from Canasta and we ate that. Seems she was using up her food too.

We never left the dinner table. Ted's family has always been what I call "table sitters." I loaded the dishwasher and stacked the excess and we sat and talked for several hours. We just don't have a lot of one on one (or two on two I guess) time with them. We all are so busy and lots of time are out of town alternately. We enjoyed our evening.

Wednesday morning I went shopping for black slacks, red sweater and flannel nightgown for my 74 year old senior. I didn't think that list was difficult but red sweaters just aren't out there. I finally found one, some charcoal slacks and a blue nightgown that was a heavy knit but I couldn't find flannel. I asked for gift receipts so hopefully she can exchange anything she wants or needs to. Merry Christmas, Dorothy, whoever you are.

Then it was more Canasta! I was in the middle again and missed winning the "middle" prize by just a few points. I'm going to be happy to take a break from Canasta for awhile. I will get to play Shang Hai as soon as we get back in January.

It was off to the Friendship Center to deliver Dorothy's gift on Thursday and then over to the pavilion to help distribute gifts to 66 families sponsored by the Women's Center. Standing on concrete for four hours is as hard as pushing dollies full of boxes and wheeling bicycles out to cars and trucks. Some people are so appreciative they hug you and cry. Others have that entitlement attitude we all have come to recognize. But we smile, wish them all a Merry Christmas and wait for the next family.

I was pretty tired when I finally got home. Ted had defrosted some Italian sausages so that and Bertolli sauce made a quick dinner accompanied by Texas garlic toast. I started up the dishwasher, crashed on the couch and pretty much stayed there until bed.

I'm going to iron today and start getting my clothes together. All the gifts we are taking are sitting on Chris' bed but they'll be gone by the time he gets here. I'll leave his sitting right in the middle of the bed! His parents' house is still for sale and now there are a few others. Maybe they will have success after the first of the year.

It should be a quiet weekend followed by our Bunco Christmas Luncheon, complete with Christmas Jeopardy, on Monday. Then it will be Adios, Amigos on Tuesday.

Christmas gift suggestions: "To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect." ~ Oren Arnold

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One Week Until Take Off

It was repair weekend as I got my hair cut and colored and went back to the prosthodontist. All this time and money to stay presentable. My bridge has been successfully removed and this morning the oral surgeon removed the roots which is all that was left. He also said I'm not a good candidate for implants so I'm feeling good about the decision to go with a partial. I wore one for years before the bridge so I can do it again.

We played Canasta Saturday night at what was a festive Christmas gathering, more so than normal. However, I'm not making any spending money at these card games but I have lots of company. There are way more losers than winners.

Gerre and Barry came over Sunday evening for dinner and we exchanged some of our Christmas gifts. They gave me a Lenox lamp that is perfect for in the bathroom through the holidays. It has a small candle and gives just enough light. Ted received a shirt that says "Tucker's Walking Buddy." He can use it in January when we keep Tucker again. I gave Gerre a Swarovski crystal bracelet I had made for her. The rest of their gifts have not yet arrived. Sure hope they are finished before we all leave town.

Monday I went across the highway to Gerre's house where the new Genealogy Group is starting up. We all talked about what we've done and what we hope to accomplish. Later in the evening Gerre came over and in no time had found my great-great-great grandfather who was born in Prussia in 1833 along with my great-great-great grandmother who was born in Hanover, Germany. I sent an e-mail to my Reunion Troops so I can update the family tree I last did for the 2005 Family Reunion. I asked for the new babies' birthdates and a few marriage dates to get that all up to date. Sometimes it is easier to get information about the dead people versus the live people. But several have responded already so I'm optimistic. I've already received a reply back from a distant cousin whose great-grandmother was a sister to my great-grandfather. Hopefully we can exchange information.

There was another round of Canasta at my sister-in-law Carol's Monday afternoon. I came in third but that doesn't pay any money. Because it is Christmas she had a lot of food for us and we had another party of sorts.

After the dentist this morning I drove by the Senior's Friendship Center to pick up a "wish list" for one of the seniors. I had received an e-mail saying they still had a large stack that had not been taken and their party is next week. So I'll be off to the shopping center tomorrow morning to buy a flannel nightgown, black slacks and a red sweater! Then - guess what? - I have to play Canasta! I miss playing Shang Hai but there's only so much time in a day.

Terry & Carol are coming over here for dinner tonight so I better go to the kitchen and start getting things ready. Ted is making pork tenderloins on his new Weber grill but I'm doing all the rest.

Don't forget "The Reason For The Season." Wish folks Merry Christmas. If they aren't celebrating Christmas, just what "holiday" are they celebrating?

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

Friday, December 9, 2011

♫ It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas ♫

I had an easy day on Monday, just an appointment to confirm a Christmas gift but I was bummed when I learned it won't be here by this weekend when I need it but it will make it before Christmas. I had a chance to get caught up with the mail, the laundry done, etc.

The next day I worked four hours at the thrift shop. This is the last day I was signed up for until January when we can request our next six months of work. I will need 12 hours I think but with being gone all of February and two weeks in April, my choices are going to be limited. I may be back at the thrift shop again.

Later in the day I kept an appointment with the prosthodontist. I have a bridge that is attached to a tooth that is in bad shape. Two regular dentists have stood around wringing their hands so Kara suggested I try this route. This Saturday he will remove the bridge and on Tuesday an oral surgeon will remove the offending tooth. He doesn't feel I'm a good candidate for implants, and at $4000 each I'm relieved, so I will have to go back to a partial. I spent so many hours in the dentist chair and dollars getting that bridge that I may cry when it comes out. It was wonderful while it lasted.

It has been cool here, way below average, but that didn't stop us from enjoying a trip downtown with the Day Trekkers to visit the Sam Houston Heritage Museum. There were 22 ladies in all. We visited four of the homes: Kellum-Noble House, Nichols-Rice-Cherry House (of Rice University fame), San Felipe Cottage and the Statiti House where I took a few pictures.

I remember kitchens like this from when I was a little girl. We had this type of stove and there was no such thing as cabinets under the sink at that time. We even had the same black and white tile floor. I scrubbed it every Saturday on my hands and knees.

This original chandelier intrigued me. It is fashioned as a basket. The push button light switches are still used in this house.

Another thing we had in the house where I grew up was a sewing machine like this one. Instead of electricity, it was powered by pushing the treadle with your foot. No wonder I never learned to sew!

And of course I would never pass up an opportunity to take a picture of an antique bar of soap from Procter & Gamble where I worked from 1963-1981. Some full time, some part time depending on the babies coming.

Afterwards we had lunch in River Oaks and the food was fantastic. I had vegetable lasagna that was outstanding. Everyone raved about the food.

December 8 is a day we go to church in honor of the Virgin Mary so we started our day off at 9 o'clock Mass. The school children do all the readings and singing so it is very enjoyable to witness that. Right before noon I walked two doors down to Wanda's to our neighborhood Christmas party and luncheon. Fourteen of us gathered for our Stealing Gift Exchange and a great meal prepared by my wonderful neighbor. Everyone kept stealing my gift but I ended up with a cute ceramic Santa Claus that you can put a tea light in so I was happy.

I had to hurry home to get ready for the Junior Forum Holiday Party and dinner. I picked Peg up at 6:30 and we rode together. It's nice to see everyone in party clothes instead of the blue/white or blue/beige of our work uniforms. It was very festive, a great meal and a fun round of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Our table was "six geese a laying" and we had to pop up and use our acting skills to lay eggs! We were voted funniest table.

Peg helped me load one half of the gifts brought by everyone into my car. One half went to Interfaith and my half went to Northwest Assistance Ministries this morning.

I met Kathryn at 8 o'clock and we delivered our toys and were back home by 9:30. We took time out to pose with the hula hoop for the newsletter.

She and I had a great conversation on giving, not just through the holidays but all year long.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fun, More Fun, Then Rain

We reported for duty Friday morning to help Madame Boomer take all the stuff into the rally hall. Feeding over 100 people three times in two days takes lots and lots of "stuff"! I also took the opportunity to decorate my table and one for Patrice. She didn't get to come because 10 minutes before they were to leave, a tree fell on their trailer and truck parked in front of their house. Talk about bad timing. Another one of the group had their RV broken into while in storage so they rented a cabin for the weekend. Their TVs were ripped off the walls as well as cabinets. It makes me so mad to hear of such senseless destruction of others' things.

Afterwards, Stella, Susan and I went to Wal-Mart so they could get their gift exchange presents. I didn't do much when we got back except prepare my hot dogs, chili, buns and shredded cheese for the informal get together Friday night. It's a smaller crowd because some people are still arriving and need to get set up before it gets too dark.

A Boomer donated lots of little gifts and I won a desk vacuum called Henry. It will clean your keyboard and all the crevices on your electronics that you can't reach otherwise. I can't wait to try it out.

There was food galore but we put a pretty good dent in all of it. I was in charge of that clean-up committee but our people are so neat they don't leave much for us to do except put the chairs back in place at the tables.

There was a big breakfast Saturday morning and I sure wish I knew who made the apple french toast casserole. It was yummy. Sandy asked me to call the table numbers which I gladly did. When breakfast was over, the fellows held their annual Texas Hold Em tournament and Ted won. His name will now go on the trophy and we get to keep it until next year.

Rick and Brenda came over to visit with us and some other folks and everyone was glad to see them. They weren't staying for dinner so once they left I got ready for the BIG party. Here is Don, our sound man, dressed as the Grinch ... and then he met Santa! They had to distribute all these gifts.

Every table appointed a person to choose four presents and distribute them at their table. Then everyone chose a number. Madame Boomer called different directions to various tables, various numbers until Carla eventually stole my mini-chopper from me! Bah humbug!

We had quite a crowd, delightful dinner companions and a feast fit for a king.

When the party was over we went to Tommy & Susan's motorhome for some dessert before calling it a night. This morning we went to Mass at 8 o'clock. We came home and got buttoned up to leave. But before we did that, I donated a pint of blood at the Gulf Coast Bloodmobile that the Boomers had arranged to be at the campground in honor of Barb and Bev, both of whom died recently. When I was finished, we headed home in the rain.

One more great Christmas weekend with the Texas Boomers. Our schedule next year is such that we probably won't make more than two of their outings. But I know they will always welcome us when we can make it.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas is Just Around the Corner

Gerre & Barry came by Sunday evening to get Tucker and he was so glad to see them. All this moving around probably confused him to no end. Monday morning I was still looking for him out of habit. Gerre brought me a beautiful silver slide as a thank you present.

My jury duty was cancelled so I had the day to get some things done. I have half my Christmas cards ready and a few gifts wrapped. I also took down my Fall things on the porch and put out the Christmas ones. While I was in the attic I got down what I am going to use on the table I am decorating at the Boomers Christmas rally.

We had glass doors installed on the guest bathroom tub so we stayed close to home on Tuesday. The ceramic towel rack had to be removed and set in about an inch and a half so that necessitated the tile guy coming before the doors could be installed. While waiting, I made a cake and chicken salad sandwiches for a funeral on Wednesday. Later on Ted went shooting and I met Gerre for dinner then went to the funeral home for a prayer service for my friend Jean.

Most of the funerals I cook and serve for, I don't personally know the people. But this time it was a friend of mine from Senior Pals at church. She was one of the first people I met when we moved to Texas. Rose and I were able to slip out to receive Communion during Jean's funeral Mass but spent the rest of the time preparing the luncheon. Afterwards I had a nail appointment and completely forgot to go to Happy Hour.

Ted took our trailer to the campground Thursday morning while I attended the Continental Breakfast at 10 o'clock then moved on to the Thank You luncheon at church at 11:30. I was careful not to eat too much at either place. The first grade mothers fixed lunch for the "funeral ladies" as we are called. The children sang Christmas songs and we were each given a cardboard house filled with cookies made by all the first grade mothers. It was such a nice show of appreciation.

I stopped home, picked up the rest of my things and drove to the campground where several folks had already arrived. There are over 50 rigs coming in for the Texas Boomers Christmas Rally. After some visiting, about 40 of us went to the Mexican restaurant across the street for dinner. I only ordered two soft tacos because I felt like I had been eating all day.

Today we have to prepare the rally hall for the weekend festivities. The tables will be decorated by individuals so most of the work is bringing the food items into the kitchen. Tonight is a gathering with casual food and the start of a fun weekend. I'll take pictures and publish again after the weekend, otherwise these get too long.

Christmas is not a date. It is a state of mind. ~ Mary Ellen Chase

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Camping

We arrived at Rayford late Wednesday morning and Brenda & Rick had already arrived. We set up and visited with them along with Jay & Stella until Mike & Patrice arrived. We then all went to a restaurant that was new to me. It was a sports bar but had very good food.

The day was beautiful and we sat outside the rest of the afternoon until it was time for Rick & Brenda to leave. Later on we went to the rally hall to play bingo. Ted won $20, Jay won $6 and his grandson won $75. And I missed Survivor! I'll watch it on Catch Up when we get home.

I was up bright and early Thursday to get my cranberry jello salad made and my sweet potatoes peeled before I left to meet Jennifer for the 5K Run Thru The Woods. It was cooler than last year but not unpleasant.

We had our best time ever - 40 minutes. We were moving at a good clip. Ted picked me up afterwards and we came back to the park and I popped the potatoes in the oven.

Jay & Stella's daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons were here for dinner as well as a couple who appeared to be friends of Patrice & Mike. That made our table of 12 the largest group overall.

There was plenty of turkey, ham, dressing, potatoes, etc., etc., for all. I took some extra turkey after everyone had eaten and we had sandwiches the next day. Clean up is so easy when you only have your own plates, silverware and two serving dishes that are empty. After a 4 a.m. wake up, a 5K race and a big dinner, next on the agenda was a 2.5 hour nap. By late in the afternoon everyone was starting to stir and we sat outside some more.

Candy Bar Bingo was scheduled for Friday morning but Tommy & Susan came by and all thoughts of bingo went out the window. We were so glad to see them because it has been awhile. However, they will be with us next weekend at the Boomer rally. We had a really nice visit and I'm so glad they came by.

There was no way I was getting into the Black Friday shopping fray but by 3 pm the crowds were all gone so we went to Wal-Mart. I needed lots of greeting cards since my supply is about gone and we also wanted to buy our girl and boy gifts for the church Christmas tree. Ted chose a Rip Stick (sort of a fancy skateboard) and I picked up a baby with bed, clothes, bottle, pacifier, etc. We won't be at our church for two weeks so we can't pull an age tag from the tree but I'm sure they'll accept whatever we give them.

It started raining through the night and when we all left Saturday morning for Furr's Breakfast Buffet, it was raining cats and dogs. We had a very nice leisurely breakfast. We drove home afterwards to pick up the muffins for the bake sale. I grabbed the smaller pack that is for our luncheon instead of the larger package that was for the bake sale. We picked up the mail and then came back to the park.

At noon we took our mini-tool set up for the auction, the muffins for the bake sale and the bag of cut up carrots, celery, onions and potatoes that I had prepared to go into tonight's hobo stew. The rain continued all afternoon so it was a good time to watch TV, nap a bit and just take it easy.

The hobo stew was great and there was a nice crowd in the rally hall. After we ate, the auction items were raffled off but we didn't win anything. Over $500 was raised for charity and everyone agreed it was a nice sum. We head for home tomorrow and will be there for a few days before heading to the Boomer rally. Chris will get whiplash with this revolving door approach to house sitting.

Tucker has been no problem. He has taken over Ted's recliner next to me while Ted is relegated to the couch. He is definitely a lady's dog. He wants to be by me all the time.

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving.” ~ W. T. Purkiser

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving to All

Last Sunday we went to church at 9 o’clock, a time we seldom attend. I wore jeans, something I hardly ever do. So we sit down right in front of a gal I know and her entire family, all dressed up in their fine clothes. Bummer!

Ted went shooting, I put the beef stew together but not before burning my arm in a dozen small places when I dropped the floured meat into the hot grease to brown it. Those cast iron Dutch ovens get hot!

Once the stew was in the oven I went into the attic and brought down things to decorate just a small portion of the house. I did the mantle, coffee table, sofa table, sideboard and kitchen table. After this weekend I’ll do the front porch. I’ll hate myself the first of January but I’m trying not to be too big a Scrooge!

Monday was bunco and I had to arrive a bit early because Mary was borrowing a card table and I also had the bag. While she finished in the kitchen I got the tables set up with dice, paper, pencils, etc. so all was ready by 10 o’clock. We managed to get three games in this time and there weren’t a lot of duplicate scores which always causes confusion in roll offs before I can award the money.

When I got home I told Ted I didn’t have to be anywhere or do anything specific until we left on Wednesday. But I busied myself getting my lists together. The park is doing Thanksgiving for two days and it goes right into Christmas over the weekend.

I need an appetizer for the bingo game Friday night, two candy bars for Candy Bingo on another day, an auction raffle item and something home made for a bake sale. Proceeds from these two activities are for charity. There are games, crafts, hayride, movies, street party with dinner, etc. all weekend long.

We finished up the beef stew for dinner then watched Dancing with the Stars. The three finalists are all great and any of them deserve to win.

I had lots to do today around the house. I cleaned out the pantry for starters and then packed all dry foods into bags and Ted eventually took those and drinks out to the RV. I made a list of refrigerator items I needed so I don’t forget something tomorrow. I’m making sweet potatoes and jello cranberry salad for Thursday dinner.
The last thing I did was make pumpkin streusel muffins. Half will go for the bake sale at the park and half will go to my neighborhood Christmas luncheon.

Tucker is being very good and we keep telling him he is going camping tomorrow. He just looks at us.

Camping is nature’s way of promoting the motel business ~ Dave Barry

P.S. Not the way we do it!
P.P.S. Congratulations to J. R. Martinez on his Dancing With The Stars win. What an inspiration he is to us all.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Little Breathing Room This Week

I finally won at Canasta! Third place, but it was a win. I needed that to salve my battered ego with being low the Saturday before. I won't be going back to Jennifer's anytime soon, she's finished hosting, but I am doing the 5K Run Thru The Woods with her on Thanksgiving morning.

I had an eye doctor appointment Thursday morning and then I picked up Gerre for the Newcomers Luncheon. It was a nice lunch with a great speaker on wine. I thought this wouldn't be real interesting to me but she was very good. I learned a few things and wouldn't hesitate to use her shop if and when I needed to purchase wine for a specific meal or person.

There were money prizes, centerpieces and wine gifts given away. Eight women were at our table and three of the ladies won four of the prizes. Guess who one of the five that didn't win was? Me! Gerre won a great gift basket from the wine shop and one lady won TWO of the money prizes.

Friday Rebecca came to clean and I prepared all my bunco packets through March 2013. We've all picked our hostess months so I printed out that sheet and attached all the scoring sheets needed. That way, when the bunco bag is passed to the next hostess, she just takes the next packet with her name highlighted and she has everything she needs. This group runs like a clock and I love all the women who make it work.

Then I wrote our Christmas letter. I caught so much flack this past year over not including our usual letter in my cards last Christmas. Apparently at this age, if you do something differently, they assume you are dead or dying. So I worked on the letter and was able to include several photos from throughout the year.

Last night was the Lighting of the Doves and the arrival of Santa Claus along the waterway. We went with Gerre and Barry to walk through the festival. It has become more and more a Children's Festival but they were so much fun to watch. They have snow hills for sledding, snow for playing in, bounce houses and something new was huge clear balls the kids are put into and rolled onto water to bounce around. I wanted to try it! The kids were making ornaments, having their faces painted and having a good time. We watched two ice carvers make a sleigh that they filled with presents carved from ice and a big Santa Claus to stand next to it. Santa came down the waterway and once he passed us we left for dinner so we wouldn't get caught in a rush.

We went to Chili's where Barry bought our dinner as a thank you for watching Tucker this week while they are gone. That certainly wasn't necessary but was appreciated.

Today we went to church early because I am going to climb into the attic to get down the few Christmas things I'm going to use. We will be gone the next two weekends and by then it is December 4 and I need to be finished or it won't get done at all.

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~ Roy L. Smith

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Canasta, Canasta and almost more Canasta

Saturday we subbed in the Couple's Canasta Group, once again at Jennifer's house. But this is a bigger group and we played four tables. I had absolutely terrible cards all night and came out low. Unfortunately they stopped paying for low. Wouldn't you know it? Just when I finally moved out of the middle but in the wrong direction? If you don't have a wild card Canasta all four hands, you are toast. I only had one!

Ted went shooting on Sunday and I was glad to stay home and worked on Christmas shopping from the luxury of my PJs in the office chair in front of the computer. I hate to shop so Amazon and I have a love affair going on. I have everyone done but my oldest daughter and her husband. Ted and I don't buy for each other anymore. If we want something, we buy it ourselves. I guess most married people get to that point.

I was supposed to play Canasta on Monday with one of my regular groups but the hostess became ill while making preparations so it was called off about two hours before we were to meet. I was actually on my way home from the doctor when I got the call on my SYNC system. Love it! That gave me free time and I slept a lot of the afternoon. I had been a bit under the weather and I think I needed the rest.

Yesterday I worked four more hours at the thrift store. It is hard work when you are sorting clothes. Hanging and tagging them isn't so bad. A lady came in with a whole SUV filled with toys and larger size women's clothes. The toys will go quickly and we never have enough big size clothes so we were glad to get them. Another lady, whose mother had passed away, brought in all her clothes in a bit bigger size too. So it was a productive day. Just as I was leaving the rain started and Grace made me a plastic bag raincoat. It worked!

The rain stopped so Ted got to go shooting and I took care of some of that "paperwork" I am always complaining about. The end of the year brings so much stuff you need to hang on too coupled with a zillion catalogues to clutter up the mailbox.

Today is ... you guessed it ... Canasta. And you know where? Jennifer's! I'm not sure how she got stuck doing three different Canastas in a row and I'm not sure she knows either. Today's games really should have been on the Thursday that is Thanksgiving so it had to be moved. Wish me luck! Or at least a good partner!

Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but of playing a poor hand well. ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Battle with the Calendar

Monday I was knee deep in laundry and had to meet Kate around noon to pick up Christmas gifts she had made. I got back on track at home because the rest of the week was BUSY!

I worked my four hour shift at the Thrift Store and then stopped off at Rayford to see Jay & Stella's new Landmark 5th wheel. It is VERY nice inside and has all the bells and whistles. They recently returned from a few weeks in the Rio Grande Valley and we hadn't seen them since they left us in Michigan last July.

I had a dentist appointment early Wednesday and we are going to finally address a tooth that is in bad shape. The problem is a bridge is attached to it. I think this is going to be a long (and expensive) process. I now have an appointment with a prosthodontist the last week in November. That is the day after I am to report for jury duty so I hope I really don't have to serve, or if I do, for no more than one day!

From the dentist I went to the Junior Forum office for lunch and to practice our Book Smart play. First practice I played Dwayne the nasty cowboy. I know my lines but really need to study up exits, entrances and what is said before I speak. Most of us are in the same situation. Those that have done this in the past were able to move us along. The second go round I worked the music/sound effects. Kathy and I made a few notations to keep me on cue, like Cotton Eye Joe has to play through the entire ball until the clock strikes 12. (This is a cowboy version of Cinderella.) I think by the first week in January, everyone will be right on target.

Ted was in Fort Worth so I took the opportunity to go to Happy Hour at the country club for the first time in six months. The lady who handles this is undergoing chemo right now and the reminder didn't go out until yesterday so only two other gals showed up. But we stayed until 9 o'clock just talking. When 12-16 people are there you can't do that so it was enjoyable.

I drove to meet my neighbor ladies for lunch Thursday afternoon. They were all going shopping afterwards but I had a hair appointment and had to get on my way. I think when your hair gets to be more than about seven colors, the hair police can come after you so it was time to do something about all those roots showing! I arrived home just in time for the Glass fellow to come and measure for sliding shower doors in the guest bath. It has a shower curtain now and I want to get rid of that. We talked of redoing the whole bathroom but decided against it. We don't want to overdo the house in today's market.

This morning was the Children's Festival for the Title One schools. Our group of four had nine buses of children to unload, one of which was a special needs bus. We had this bus park where it could get out first because those children were leaving first and would not be eating lunch at the park. Jeannie led the group and I brought up the rear. Once we moved a row of chairs to accommodate the wheelchairs, we went back to help with the other eight busloads. The hardest part was keeping the schools from getting mixed into one another. Our school was going to the left, the one walking beside us was going to the right. We had to be sure the students didn't mingle and get into the wrong group. Once we got them settled we could relax. At one point the Special Needs teacher was up and I checked with her. She was getting another teacher to help her with a bathroom stop for a wheelchair bound student. She said they were fine and there was a chaperon with the other children.

Once the two stage shows were over we took them out first but another school came up the center aisle and we were back trying to keep this group separate. One of the autistic boys apparently doesn't like to be touched and was fussing when I put my arm out to stop them from mixing with the other school. The aide came up to him and he continued on with the group. It certainly wasn't a hard day but we were there a long time.

I think I might order a pizza tonight and put my feet up. It's been an interesting week.

You have got to keep autistic children engaged with the world. You cannot let them tune out. ~ Temple Grandin

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Monkey Bars and Such

Well here is a picture of the much better looking garage. The front and right side now have a high shelf installed with the "monkey bars" below. These bars can be moved in 10 different increments for height and width. Then there are several different hooks that can be snapped on and slid back and forth to accommodate whatever you have to hang. It's very versatile. I consolidated and straightened stuff on the shelves on the left and hopefully we can keep this semblance of order for awhile. Ted straightened up his work room some so my "order gene" will be calm for awhile Ted hopes.

I finally won at cards. The big Shang Hai group meets at a restaurant on the first Tuesday and I was home so I could join them. Not only did I win some money (I came in second), I also had a Shang Hai which is the ultimate in this game. It is sort of like Gin in that you have to be able to lay your whole hand down in the configuration called for in that round using all 12 cards. I probably won't be available to play with them again until March.

Wednesday we were up early to take the trailer to have the stud and lug nut put on the wheel. It was broke off by the fellows up in Kentucky and they couldn't find one the right size so we've had 7 instead of 8 on one wheel. That would normally only take 5 minutes at the shop but Ted noticed a busted shock. One was found in Houston and we had to wait for it to be delivered. We were able to get the trailer fixed, put it away and get to the doctor for our annual check up by 1 pm. Everything checked out with me and I had my blood drawn. Same with Ted except he had to give a urine sample too for some reason. We'll hear from our doctor in a day or two about all the results.

I was asked to work at Change Over for the thrift shop where I work for Junior Forum. I had no idea of the number of boxes of Christmas stuff acquired through the year and set aside for this pre-Thanksgiving sale. Lauren, Jill and I did nothing all night but break down boxes. We filled an entire dumpster with ones not good enough to save and a shed with good ones. They started their big sale the next day and I was assured all the Christmas items would be gone long before Thanksgiving. We were served sandwiches and salad while we worked and it was a fun atmosphere though everyone was working very hard. I bought two gold stars to match one I have at home for my mantel this Christmas.

I'm not sure how Ted does it but he can wake himself up when he needs to without an alarm clock. At 7:15 he came out of the bedroom and was ready to get things together for our camping trip with the Boomers this weekend. We had to make soup for Friday night, pastries and juice for Saturday breakfast and Ted's pulled pork was all done for Saturday night. So we didn't need to take much beyond that in the way of food. Coffee and such stay in the trailer. We gathered a few clothes, left a note for Chris, hitched up and were on our way around 10 o'clock.

We received a call from our doctor on my cell (he always calls himself, not his staff) to tell me our tests were all good. He said to tell Ted his bloodwork was beautiful. He is always amazed at Ted's numbers. Dr. C told us to keep on doing whatever it is we're doing but officially he is required to tell us to exercise and lose weight. Point taken!

It took about four hours to arrive at the campground. We were the second to arrive and got set up. This is a beautifully wooded campground and we will enjoy being with the Boomers again. Soon others started arriving and we visited awhile and made arrangements to go to Bodacious BBQ for dinner. Then I took a nap, probably due to the muscle relaxant the doctor gave me for a kink in my neck.

After a good dinner we sat around a propane fire, the only kind allowed due to the burn ban in effect. It got pretty chilly so we didn't stay out too long. Ted didn't get a nap so we were in bed by 10.

We drove to Canton Trade Days on Friday and followed the traffic to a sea of cars parked in a field. Then we ventured into the mix. OMG this place is bigger than huge and it's hard to figure out where you are, where you've been and how to get where you want to go. We spent about five hours there and were both whipped. I bought very little but it wasn't due to lack of availability. We simply don't need anything. But it was fun looking.

Dinner that night was soup and sandwich night. We made Tortellini Soup which was a big hit since the whole pot was gone. I tried three different kinds and they were all excellent. The fellows headed to the firepit and the gals sat inside talking. Before we had come to dinner, one of the ladies caught her thumb in the awning support and ended up being taken to the hospital. They were not back yet when we went in. The next morning she came to breakfast all bandaged up with a broken thumb and was told to see an orthopedic doctor on Monday.

Everyone took off for Canton but we decided one day was enough. We went to the state park to check out the campground, rode into town to check on church for tomorrow, filled up with fuel and drove around the town a bit.

Eventually the shoppers started trickling back in and groups gathered around the campfire and at other RVs. Mudslides were served, the fire became known as "Don's Hot Rocks" and things just got funnier and funnier from there on in. If laughing is good for the soul, we're all in much better shape this week! What a great time.

Dinner was potluck and there was a great variety of all different foods. Afterwards I played Skipbo with the ladies and Ted headed to the fire pit. When I went looking for him he was already inside watching the LSU/Alabama game.

We went to the cathedral for Mass early Sunday morning, then prepared to leave. We got on the road about 10:30 and everyone else was already gone except the few staying over until Monday. We had the RV put away and were home by 2:30. We are signed up for the Christmas rally so we'll see these folks again shortly!

Laughter is an instant vacation. ~ Milton Berle

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's Coming in Twos

If you've read my blog long enough you know about two separate instances where we were stuck on I-40 in Tennessee for several hours. Both times semis hauling beer were involved in accidents. Last weekend we were at a home where wooden trays were set on fire sitting on top of stove burners that accidentally were bumped and turned on. Yesterday I was ironing and was just ready to start the last pair of slacks and the iron started hissing and sparking and flames shot out of the iron near the cord. I immediately unplugged it and it stopped but the handle was all black. Strangely, the cord showed no damage. But I threw it away and will get a new iron. Weird!

I've been working in the garage today because tomorrow we are having shelves installed up high to get a lot of things we seldom use out of our way. Then there will be "monkey bars" put below them. There are several types of hooks that we can purchase to use on these bars to hang folding chairs, golf clubs, bicycle, etc. Anyway, I had to back my car outside so I finally took a picture.

It is Oxford White trimmed in Pueblo Gold with beige leather interior. It has an electric hatch and electric third row seat, back-up camera that shows in the rearview mirror and the SYNC system. There are other things too but these are the most useful of the bells and whistles. We had to fill it with gas for the first time so we've been driving it a fair amount.

Thursday's Canasta went very well but I still didn't win. I think this and bunco are going to be listed as charities on my taxes this year. The ladies were all very complimentary on the food and drinks and everyone seemed to have a good time. It was good to put my feet up when it was all over.

Friday we went to vote. We can vote early here and there were 10 state amendments to vote on. We tried to hook up with Terry & Carol but we never did catch them. So we went to Sam's to get some things and came back home.

We went to church at 5 o'clock yesterday and then continued on to Jennifer and Gene's house for dinner and to play Canasta (instead of Shang Hai). There are just four couples in this group (we were substituting) so it's a more intimate get together than when there are three or four tables playing. Ted got his money back for being low and I was in the middle again.

Ted is shooting and little by little I'm getting things cleaned out and somewhat organized out in the garage. I have an "up high" pile, a "I want to hang on hooks" pile, boxes to go back on the two sets of shelves, a Paralyzed Vets pile, a pile for Ted and a full garbage can. I'd say that is some progress.

I've washed two loads of rags that I found out there and the dryer just beeped so I'll fold them and put them in a basket to keep them all in one place instead of the four places I found them in!

“I'm a tidy sort of bloke. I don't like chaos. I kept records in the record rack, tea in the tea caddy, and pot in the pot box.” ~ George Harrison

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Enjoying the Weather

It has been beautiful weather here ever since we returned 3.5 weeks ago. Fall and spring can't be beat, winters are about six weeks long and are mild but oh those summer months are killers. We still haven't received any rain to speak of and I read where the entire area is going to lose 66 million trees to the drought. We are heavily wooded and I can't help but think that maybe thinning the trees will be a good thing in the end, much like fire can be good for a forest.

Rick and Brenda came by on Monday and it was so good to see them. Last year we saw them for a very short time so we're looking forward to them being in the area for the next three months. We visited for a long time and then went to a new Five Guys for an early dinner. If going there, don't ever order a large fry, and never order two! I think there were 5 lbs. of potatoes in that bag.

Tuesday I was scheduled to work 10-2 at the thrift shop for Junior Forum. It's a long story how I came to be scheduled for four hour stints so many weeks in a row. But I do need the hours so I'm going to do them except for next week when Peggy is taking my place because it is my Shang Hai day. Standing and bending over pulling clothes out of bags for four hours is a killer on this old back. I came home so tired I took a nap, something I seldom do.

Ted went shooting and I went to play Canasta at Sue Anne's. I came in third but the scores were all really close. One game I was stuck with four pairs in my hand and couldn't get a third to lay any of them down. Frustrating.

I received my EZ Tag for my car so now the only thing I need is the Title and that transaction will all be done. We also received a letter saying we had to order our tickets to tour Versailles Palace in Paris now if we want to go in April! So I made that phone call in the morning. I keep remembering the "paperless society" they talked about when computers came on the scene. Who were they kidding? I'm awash in paper constantly it seems.

I sent Ted off to the grocery yesterday to get the things I need for Canasta here today. I also had to make a cake for a funeral at church. I have two of the four tables set up and will put the other two up this morning. My dishes are out and my drinks are chilling and my snacks are ready to go.

Rose is stopping by for the cake for the funeral. I am unable to help her this morning because of the remaining preparations here for Canasta. With 15 ladies coming at 1 o'clock, that would be pushing the envelope even for me. Ted is driving to San Antonio and back today because the World Sporting Clays competition with 2000 shooters is going on there now. He has to get out of the house anyway so he may as well do something he likes. Tomorrow looks like a free day. Yahoo!

"It is not time that we need to manage, but our attitude towards it - we all have the same amount, it is just how we use it that differs. Keep busy and keep getting results." ~ Anton Guinea

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tucker's Going Camping

Friday morning I picked up Peg and we proceeded to the Junior Forum office for the regular monthly meeting. We have to attend four a year and this is the first one I've made. I also have only worked two out of 50 hours so far because some of what I've done is support hours and those are different. I am so far behind someone is going to think I'm in first place. I am scheduled for a total of 24 between now and the first of the year so there's hope for me yet. If I can get on the schedule for Gift Distribution, I'll be ahead a little. We sign up for the second half of the year in January but we're going to be gone the whole month of February and the first two weeks in April so that puts a burden on me for the rest of the time. Somehow I'll work it out.

We attended Wind Down where Alton had my bottle of Riesling waiting. He was wondering when I was going to come back. No one likes the sweet Riesling wine but me so I have my own private bottle. There were wood trays with wine glasses sitting on top the stove burners and apparently one of the women leaned against the knob and turned it on. All of a sudden we had a tray burning and flames leaping. We got it out quickly but it was more excitement than any of us wanted. We didn't stay late and were home around 10.

Last night we went to the lake to play Shang Hai with Gerre and Barry. Their house is really coming together now that all the furniture from the old lake house is now at the new lake house. We picked up a pizza and ate out on the back porch. If the lake had water it would have added a dimension but alas, still no rain. Afterwards we taught Ted to play Shang Hai. He picked it up quickly and by Round 6 was in the lead. But he too got caught with his entire hand on the last round and it allowed me to go into first place. He said he liked it and we're scheduled to play next Saturday at Jennifer and Gene's.

Gerre & Barry had asked if we wanted to go on a 5-day cruise over Thanksgiving since our kids are not coming after all. We are scheduled for two cruises next year and said we were going to go to Rayford with friends for that weekend. They had made a reservation for Tucker at the kennel because they knew we were going to be gone but there's absolutely no reason Tucker can't come camping with us. So he is. Ted will have a dog to walk with all his friends who walk their dogs. Tucker is absolutely no problem and it will be fun to have him along.

We're going to Canton Trade Days with the Boomers, then the Thanksgiving weekend at Rayford and will attend the Boomer's Christmas rally too. I told Chris just to leave his stuff here because he is going to be in and out. He doesn't stay when we're home but there's no reason to take his stuff back and forth. He is a God send to us.

Our friends Rick and Brenda are back in town from Seattle. They were going to come today but at the last minute decided to come tomorrow. That's about the only day I have free until next Friday and they spend the weekends with their family. They will be workamping at Livingston State Park for three months so we'll see them a few times I'm sure. Livingston is a lot further away than Timber Ridge where they worked in the past.

You have to put in many, many, many tiny efforts that nobody sees or appreciates before you achieve anything worthwhile. ~ Brian Tracy

Thursday, October 20, 2011

No Pictures Yet

My kids tell me they liked it better when I worked ... they knew where I was. Between the mobility of cell phones and the RV, their first question now is "Where are you?" I have been on a merry-go-round since we got back the first of the month.

Last Friday we went to the lake and Ted loaded up my Expedition and Gerre's Lexus at the old lake house and we took it over to the new lake house. Barry had "big" gall bladder surgery and isn't able to lift. The contents we brought gave Gerre things to do the rest of the weekend in getting settled. Their big mover comes tomorrow for what is left.

After a very busy week, I was happy to stay home on Saturday and even opted not to attend church but to wait until Sunday. I had to prepare food and tables for bunco which took a good bit of the day because it was afternoon before we got home from church.

Bunco went off without a hitch except we are supposed to play 4 games, normally only play 3 but with all the talking we only got in 2! I love that the girls enjoy visiting so much. The game is just a reason to get together.

Tuesday I made egg salad for sandwiches to take to church for a funeral on Wednesday. Then we hung around waiting for the car transport to pick up my old Expedition to take it to NC. We finally got the call around 4:30 pm so we took off to deliver it to a parking lot big enough to accommodate the car hauler. We were glad it was on its way. Now I could get my new Expedition out of the garage and use it.

With 25.9 miles on the odometer I drove to my friend's to play Shang Hai. This is only my second time playing and I came in second. I was first until the last hand when I just couldn't get down and was caught with all my cards still in my hand. That sometimes happens.

I came home to a real Texas beef brisket just finished being smoked in Ted's smoker. It was as good as any brisket in any restaurant we've been to. Now he has to work on ribs. I'm happy to let him cook as much as he wants.

Today Ted put on his suit and I got dressed up to attend the visitation for Barb at the Rosewood Funeral Home. Ted found Dave's funeral program in one pocket, Amy's wedding program in the other.

It was so sad to see a poster that Mike labeled "our first and only RV trip after my retirement." They were half way through their summer trip when she was taken ill and returned to M.D. Anderson in Houston. He said he'll learn to cope but the other half of the queen bed will always be empty and he'll always miss her.

Ted drove me to the country club for the Newcomers luncheon and ran some errands. It was a nice afternoon and Gerre brought me home. Tomorrow is a Junior Forum meeting, up to the dealer to get my license plates and then the Wind Down cocktail party tomorrow night. If Barry is feeling up to it, Gerre and I are going to teach the fellows how to play Shang Hai.

Back to my car -- I programmed the garage door opener in the sunvisor, set my seat to respond to my memory key, called HOME on the SYNC, asked SYNC to take me home (which it did) and figured out the vent button opens the back side windows. There's a lot of bells and whistles to learn.

One of these days I'll take a picture. Just haven't had time.

Drive carefully! Remember, it's not only a car that can be recalled by it's maker.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In Memory of Barb Ellerbrock

We lost another good friend today to that awful disease cancer. Barb actually battled breast cancer twice but her latest war with leukemia was more than she could overcome. She died this morning with her husband Mike at her side.

Barb was a good time, party loving gal. She was always ready with a kind word and a big smile. I never heard her say anything negative about anything or anyone.

I took this picture last Easter when Barb was unlucky enough to win Mr. Wonderful as a gift. This is a big joke present that has circulated for years within the Texas Boomer rallies.

Today she met THE Mr. Wonderful and I know he welcomed her home with outstretched arms. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mike and their entire family.

Rest in peace, Barb. If anyone deserves to, it is you.

Friday, October 14, 2011

On The Mend

Well I made it to Canasta, didn't sneeze or cough on anyone, and was able to play all four games. I had decent cards but came out in the middle. Since we only play for $1, winning isn't what we gather for. This is a great group of ladies and we all just have a good time.

By that evening my flu/cold headed to my chest. I started on antibiotics before it could take a strong hold and started using Nyquil Cough at night. Needless to say I didn't do much on Tuesday or Wednesday other than make a pot of taco soup. It makes life so much easier when either of us can just grab a bowl of soup when I'm not up to making a full dinner.

By Thursday I was feeling better and went to the neighborhood luncheon. October has the most birthdays and I walked into a stack of cards and gifts at my place in the restaurant. It was a second birthday celebration. Jeanette made Halloween cupcakes with candles for the birthday girls and pumpkins on the others' cupcakes. Today I need to write out thank you notes to my wonderful neighbors.

I now sound worse than I feel and I think I'm pretty far down the road to recovery. But while I was hacking and sneezing I was productive!

I have a brand new 2011 white with Arizona beige trim Expedition in the garage. It was driven home, put into the garage and has never been out yet. My 2003 is sold to my niece Vicki in North Carolina and will be picked up next week. She has three kids and is so excited to be getting a big SUV. I normally would hesitate to sell a used car to someone I know but this has been the best car and right now I know of nothing wrong with it. I hope she gets another 75,000 trouble free miles out of it. I'll post a picture of the new car when I get it out of the garage and take one.

I've also done all I can on the April France trip. Our air came with the riverboat cruise and is all in order. So only the three days on our own at the end of the cruise needed work. We now have a hotel in the Left Bank area, a group contact for train tickets to Normandy when we get within 90 days and a guide for our Normandy day trip booked and deposit made. We have three nights in Paris with the tour so we'll decide during that time what we want to do when we are on our own. We won't be alone, there are 12 in our group.

LeAnne and I burned up the keyboards back and forth with Caron in Rome about the days before our trans-Atlantic cruise next November. We want to go in several days before the cruise to see some of Italy. We have put together a package of transportation, hotel, tours and some meals that the 23 in our group can join in or not. Some are arriving later, some have been there before so hopefully they can pick and choose any or all of what we've put together to make their trip enjoyable.

If all goes as we hope, we will have transportation to our hotel from the airport, a nice hotel with buffet breakfast for the duration, three days of tours including a day in Capri, Pompeii and Naples using hydrofoils. The last day we will be transported to the ship with a stop at ruins along the way. We have stops in France, Spain, the Canary Islands, six days at sea, the Bahamas and finally Galveston. I'm really looking forward to both of these trips. Add in a month in the Rio Grande Valley in February, Morgan's 1st Communion in May, Ally's graduation in June and anything else added to our summer and you can see why Chris is looking forward to being "lord of this manor" in 2012.

We hope to go to Gerre & Barry's new lake house tonight to see it. They bought a different one than the one she and I had looked at. We left before they made the deal so we never did see it except in pictures. It looks spectacular. We'll go out to eat at a new Mexican restaurant in the area.

We have no big plans for the weekend but I have bunco here on Monday so I have some preparations to make. After I go to the store I'll make whatever food I can beforehand (washing my hands constantly!). Monday morning will be busy as I get the food out, the tables ready and myself ready. They come at 10 a.m. so I have to start early. Maybe by then I'll be all better. Let's hope so.

When an illness knocks you on your *ss, you should stay down and relax for a while before trying to get back up. ~ Candea Core-Starke

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Busy, Then Sick

I attended my first practice at Book Smart on Tuesday. First there was a light lunch followed by an introduction to the book and program. Bubba, The Cowboy Prince is a Cinderella story Texas-style. We put the story on as a play and then each second grade child receives a hard covered copy. These performances are at Title One schools which have the most at risk students. Most of the time it is the first hard covered book the child has ever owned.

I am in charge of music and sound effects and when not doing that I will be Dwayne one of two mean cowpokes. We all have to learn two parts/jobs in case of absences. We will have two more practices before presenting the play five times over the winter.

Thursday I was up and out early to the Autumn Party at Regent Care Nursing Home. I was in charge of Table 6 and had five lovely ladies gathered. They said they were the Golden Girls and we had a fun time. Our Merry Melodies did a Hit Parade through the decades of songs that mean so much to these elderly folks. During one, Ivy age 87, told me used to dance to the song with soldiers and sailors at the USO in San Francisco when she was 18. It was a huge success. I always feel good when I leave there knowing I made someone's day a little brighter.

Friday Rebecca came to clean and I worked on getting the rest of my paper work done. I'm in good shape now. But I started with a cold and by that evening I was going down hill quickly. On Saturday morning I called the hosts of a surprise birthday party we were to attend to tell them we would not be there. No one needed exposure to my germs. I slept all day and all night.

This morning I was still a little weak and chilled but made myself get up and do some things. I started feeling better and decided to make some chicken soup. If that didn't cure me, nothing was going to. Ted had bought skinny noodles from the Amish and had been after me to use them. They worked great in the soup and Ted said it is excellent. I haven't eaten any yet but it smells good.

I intend to play Canasta tomorrow as long a I'm feeling well enough to sit up for three hours. I'll take Purell to clean my hands at each round so no one gets germs from holding the cards after me. What I don't understand is that I got a flu shot somewhere in Kentucky and Ted refused to get one ... and I'm sick!

To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Me and the Mother Road

We made it home safely on Saturday about 1 pm. The day was bright and pleasant. The worst of the dead trees we saw was in the Marshall area and I was surprised at how green other areas were. I expected everything to be dead and was delighted it wasn't like that. We are still desperately in need of rain but the land has not been laid barren ... at least not yet.

Once set up, we loaded up the truck and headed to the house. We found everything in great condition and even two of my hanging plants made it through with much tender loving care I'm sure. There appears to be a bit of "brown patch" in the grass but that isn't unusual. I'll need to get some fungicide to put down. But overall both the house and yard were in great shape. Thanks to Chris and those who helped him. His parents' house has still not sold so he didn't have far to go home.

We took my car back to the campground because it carries so much more than the truck. We went to church at 6 pm, stopped for a burger and then headed for the RV. We were both in bed pretty early.

The next morning it was 66 inside the trailer. I took personal responsibility for bringing this wonderful weather to Texas. People were emerging from the A/C to once again enjoy the great outdoors. It was a miserable summer here and was worse than being cooped up all winter by snow and ice I would imagine.

Ted and I both got right to work. He washed the entire rig on the outside and did the windows. I emptied out what needed to come home and cleaned the inside very well. When we were done, it was back to the storage unit and then home to put everything away. I always amaze myself that I can mess up a 2300 sq. ft. house with things from a 300 sq. ft. trailer. We had leftovers for both lunch and dinner and settled into a quiet evening.

Monday was "pay the piper" day. I spent all day getting everything back in order and tackled the stack of mail that had accumulated. All the ads and junk mail had been thrown away already, the bills had been dealt with so that made it a much easier job. There were lots of thank you notes from all the festivities we had attended over the summer and birthday cards for both of us.

At 5 o'clock we drove to Terry and Carol's and then on to a new restaurant in the area. The food is homemade Italian and is fabulous. It's the first time I've found gnocchi on a menu down here in the south. We had a great meal and a wonderful visit after almost four months.

Tuesday was my birthday and old Route 66 and I are sharing the same number for the next year. I received some nice gifts, lots of phone calls, a stack of cards and rows and rows of greetings on Facebook from family and friends. I'm so blessed to have so many great people in my life. I started the day meeting Gerre for our normal walk. She has signed us up for the 5K Run Thru The Woods on Thanksgiving Day and we need to get up to speed. It was so good to be walking with my friend again.

Ted planned to attend the World Skeet Shoot in San Antonio again but hesitated to leave me alone on my birthday. I sent him off because I really needed time to myself to get my calendar and volunteer projects all in order. I had just spent 107 days in 300 sq. ft. of space with him. A day alone would be just fine. And it was.

Today I start back in with my Junior Forum work. I'm also scheduled at the nursing home tomorrow. I think I'm in my groove again!

Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Haulin' HitchHikers

I couldn't get this picture to load when I did my rally blog so they sent it again and now it worked! Close to one-third of the attendees at the HitchHiker International Rally belong to Haulin' HitchHikers. We had a great showing.

Friday, September 30, 2011

One Mile From "Home"

I joined everyone in the hall Tuesday morning to listen to the SkyMed pitch and then offered to help clean up but there really wasn't anything to do since all that was used was paper products. Ted kept trying to improve his score on the Wii and I played some Hand and Foot with the ladies.

At 12:30 the Greasy Hat Luncheon and Red Hat Luncheon convened in opposite rooms in the building. We had a talk from the Extension Service on Seed Starting which I personally thought was a questionable topic for a group where a lot of ladies don't own a home or yard. Going to Lowe's still works for me when I want a plant!

We went to a local restaurant for dinner. I said something to Ted about this being his birthday dinner and the waitress heard me. After we ate she brought him a square of cake with a candle, took his picture and then brought him a copy of it. That was nice because nothing had been done for his birthday.

That evening we had entertainment by Keith Longbotham and his group. They were really good and everyone enjoyed the show. The gal on the fiddle was super.

Wednesday was a catered breakfast followed by a Mor-Ryde Seminar. We are talking about having this suspension put on our trailer. The roads are horrendous and it would greatly improve and protect our suspension. If we have it done, it will be next summer when we're up north.

There was an ice cream social in the afternoon followed by a talk with Mike Mitchell, CEO of NuWa. He always comes and brings everyone up to date on what is going on with the company and any new products they are rolling out. The 2012 Champagne is still the same layout we have so we are sitting tight with ours.

That evening our sub-group, Haulin' HitchHikers, had their annual meeting preceded by a potluck. Ted made pulled pork which was well received. There were very good dishes prepared. So many potlucks are heavy on salads and desserts without much "substance" food. But we had bean soup, taco soup, sausage gumbo, two kinds of meatballs, the pulled pork, cowboy beans, mac & cheese, etc. We have a lot of good cooks!

Afterwards we played bingo but didn't win anything. Good thing because last year Ted won a free yearly membership, 25% off the rally cost and $224 in cash. If either of us won anything, there may have been a revolt.

Thursday I chaired the Mexican Train competition. Later in the evening I was asked to present the certificate to the winner. In the afternoon there was a meeting on all the rallies and trips for 2012. We may make the Haulin' HitchHikers Michigan rally in August but we won't do the International. It is set for Goshen, IN the middle of October. That's too far north, too late in the season for us.

We had a catered dinner in the evening and presentation of all the awards. I DID NOT win in the photo contest. Alaska reigned supreme. The people photo that won was of a woman in Eskimo clothes, animal was a bear with a fish in its mouth and the scenery was a beautiful picture of mountains and glacier reflecting in a lake. I'll just have to keep taking photos and see if I can't get another good one for 2013. Entertainment was Johnny Counterfit who sounded like so many different male singers coupled with jokes. I stayed for about half the show but was yawning so much I gave up and went home.

We pulled out this morning around 7:45 heading to Brinkley, AR but we arrived there around 1:00 pm so continued on. We called for a reservation in Benton, AR but arrived there at 3 pm and Ted said he wanted to continue on to Texarkana to give us a shorter day on Saturday. I cancelled the Benton reservation, made one in Texarkana and called Gwen at Rayford to tell her we would be in on Saturday,

We are in the same park we stopped at on our first night out in June. We drove to town to get fuel and have dinner. To get there we had to exit I-30 at Exit 1. So we were just one mile away from Texas. I expect we'll make it there tomorrow bright and early.

“There's nothing half so pleasant as coming home again.” ~ Margaret Elizabeth Sangster

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

HitchHiker International Rally

We traveled to Lebanon, TN outside of Nashville and arrived around noon on Friday. We were the 16th rig to check in and got one of the better spots. This is an agricultural center and spots are pretty much where you can find an electric outlet and water. However, we are backed up to a fence, all in a line. We are across the parking lot from the bathhouse and the building where our activities will take place.

That evening about 30 of us went to O'Charley's for dinner. They put us in one private section of the restaurant at tables of 4 or 6 and did a great job in getting the food out quickly and the checks correct. Not an easy feat on short notice.

Saturday night we attended the Grand Ole Opry. Guests included Little Jimmie Dickens who is 90 years old. The circle of wood he is standing on is from the Ryman Auditorium stage and was put in place when the new Opry theater was opened. The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Dolly Parton were also appearing. You can see how big this theater is. We were in nose bleed heaven. The close up of Dolly is off the Jumbotron.

The whole complex was ruined last May during the floods. This year is "Country Comes Home" and many of the big stars are taking the time to play the Opry to increase attendance and revenue. There was a sell out crowd for Dolly and there are no tickets available until November so it seems to be working.

Sunday we attended church and then traveled back to the Opry area to take a luncheon cruise on the General Jackson.

It's a beautiful boat, the food was okay, the entertainment great but I felt rushed all afternoon. There never was time to just stand at the rail and watch whatever it was we passed. We could have stayed docked and it wouldn't have been any different for me. However, it was another opportunity to socialize with others from the HitchHiker rally and that's what this week is all about.

Yesterday Ted went to find a stud for the tire. When they took ours off, they broke one and couldn't find one to replace it. So we only have 7 instead of 8 on one tire. This is a pain because now we have to find a place with enough room to park the trailer so the tire can be removed and the stud and lug nut installed. It's always something! Stan's wife flew back to Texas to attend a function so he and I were going to lunch with Greg and Judy just as Ted drove in. So all five of us went to the Sunset Cafe, recommended by someone from the area. It was quite good and kept me from having to make dinner!

When we returned, Ted went over to the hall and called to tell me they needed one more player for Hand and Foot so I went over and played a game. Ted was invited to return to the shooting complex so he did and I went to the Meet and Greet. I turned in my two photos for the contest. Besides the butterfly in the animal category, I included this one of Sam and Morgan last year at Lake Huron in the people category. Wish me luck.

Ted returned before the Meet and Greet was over and stayed around while I came back to watch Dancing With The Stars.

We've had a circle outside our trailer everyday since we've been here but because of the asphalt, there is no campfire. It's getting cooler and a fire would be nice for a couple of reasons!

This morning is a continental breakfast put on by Skymed before their presentation. Ted is signed up to do coffee and doughnuts so I'll have to go wake him. More later.

"The Grand Ole Opry, to a country singer, is what Yankee Stadium is to a baseball player. Broadway to an actor. It's the top of the ladder, the top of the mountain. You don't just play the Opry; you live it." ~ Bill Anderson