Tuesday, December 30, 2014

San Antonio Visit

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

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

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

Ally with the mission church in the background.

Ted as we approached the buildings.

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

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

The current altar which included four very old statues.

Pat and Kelly walking in front of the church.

Kelly and Ally in the garden.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, December 21, 2014


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Up Early Every Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Entering the Home Stretch

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

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

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

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

When they arrived we all pitched in.

And in about two hours we were all done.  

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

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

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

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Little Breathing Room

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Monday, December 1, 2014

Stamina Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Am Ready!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Lull Before the Storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More Projects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Here Comes Thanksgiving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Holidays Are Breathing Down Our Necks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Fall Has Arrived

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, November 1, 2014

If I Could Turn Back Time ~ Cher

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Someone's In the Kitchen with Dinah!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Making A Little Progress on the Economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Reagan's Trickle Down Economics

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Few More Photos From Others

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

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

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

Ted with the monkeys.

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

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

A square in Carteghena.

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

A wall in the courtyard of the museum.

The pool and slide on the ship.

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

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

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