Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Two Weeks At Home

Tuesday was more of putting things away plus four loads of laundry. I don't think I sat down all day!   The shredding and filing are still sitting there though.  I put a roasting chicken in the Instant Pot for dinner and finally gave up the ghost and sat down in early evening.  The Ford dealer called and said the computer found no code so they put my car in line for the Major Engine computer readout.  The problem is there are others in front of me. In have no idea when I will get my car back.  I was looking at buying a new Ford Edge next fall but that may happen sooner than I thought!

Wednesday morning I spent the early hours of the day locating and printing all the reservations and confirmations I received for Greece and Hawaii over the last three months.  I had no printer with us so I just kept saving and/or taking screenshots until I could get a file together.  Our Greece group is meeting to finalize some transportation plans.  We need "airport to hotel" and "hotel to ship" reservations.  We all agreed to use Royal Caribbean "ship to airport" transport at the end of the cruise because they control flow off the ship. It will be in their best interest to be sure we leave early enough to catch our flights home.  For Hawaii I am good except for the Honolulu to Kona and return flight.  We are booked on United into and out of Honolulu so we need an inter-island flight.  The condos on Kona, our hotel in Honolulu and New Year's reservation at Disney's Aulani are all in order.   I have a lot of car reservations and need to cancel some.  We kept finding better prices!  Whew!  That all took awhile.

We went to the grocery and eventually I used the broth and leftover chicken from Tuesday to make chicken noodle soup in the Instant Pot.  It turned out really good.  I sautéed onions, celery and carrots in the chicken fat off the top of the saved drippings.  Then added the drippings minus the fat, some additional broth, cut up chicken, spices and a handful of noodles and set it for Soup, 4 minutes!  Voila!  Homemade chicken soup.  Very tasty.  

Another thing I did was put my stained glass table and the two new chairs on the porch.  I have the old peacock chair and table plus six cushions all ready to go out in April when the Paralyzed Veterans come to pick it up.  It turned out to fit just fine.

Thursday was Shanghai day.  I hadn't seen anyone in 3 months so it was a good afternoon filled with laughter.  We have the same problem playing cards as playing mahjongg - whose turn is it?  And I won!  Great start to getting back into playing cards.

We watched the Buddy Holly story on TV for a change of pace.  The cars in NY during the 50s looked like old time movies to us and we were in school then!  We both enjoyed it and talked of the songs that didn't get written because of his untimely death.  He was so talented as singer, musician, lyricist and producer.  Such a sad ending to such a promising life.  

On Friday Ted worked at the gun club and I stayed home and cleaned.  By dinner time I was pooped so an easy dinner of coconut shrimp in the air fryer and salad was all I could muster.  Saturday was more of the same with putting plants on the courtyard wall and removal of much pollen from the deck and furniture.  John and Irene invited us to dinner at Spring Creek BBQ and then we played cards at our house.  I came in second.  My dime purse runneth over.

The bad news of the week is my car needs $2200 of "powertrain" work.  That's what the little wrench on the display means.  It has something to do with modules in the transmission plus other stuff.  It is 8 years old with 61,000 miles.  It has never given me any trouble in all that time.  It looks brand new (no food, kids or dogs) transported.  We had the tires, new last year, rotated while in the valley, the oil changed and the inside and outside detailed.  I think the Ford Edge may have to wait until 2019 so I get some use out of my new $2200 whatevers!  

Today is Easter.  We went to Mass at 9:00 and will join Terry, Carol, Irene and John for brunch at their country club.  And maybe more cards.  My dimes are hot!

Happy Easter everyone. 

Friday, March 23, 2018

Pack Up and Out

Friday we were invited for muffins and coffee at Steve and Maresa's to look at the atlas and determine if their farm is close enough on the way north towards North Dakota to stop and stay a day or two this summer.  We learned I had chosen a campground just a bit beyond so it would be a perfect place to stop instead.  There were 4 RV hookups when they bought the place and they kept them for just this reason.

When we came back it was time to put all the furniture from under the pergola back into the coach house.  It all fits like a puzzle and we got it just right.  Ted had already been doing some outside things getting ready to leave on Saturday morning.

I went to play mahjongg and won 3 games with two games just a tile away.  I checked and can play on Wednesdays at home.  We went to Cracker Barrel for trout for me and shrimp for Ted then came back to relax before our travel day that was coming up.  

We were up by 7:00 Saturday and ready to head out by 8:30.  We gave a few hugs and left with me following Ted.  We made it several miles down the expressway and Ted called to say his Drain Water Separator light had come on.  This happened when we left Sikeston, MO last year!  We knew what needed to be done but finding a place to pull in with truck and trailer is a bit tricky.  We decided to go north on 281 and pull into Flying J which was on our way.  Ted went around the back, I parked in front.  I saw a Flying J Road Service Assistance truck so I called the phone number.  The tech said he would be right over.  I called Coach Net to get authorization only to learn their records show our contract was up!  I will be checking this with my records when I get home!  With our mail forwarding I guess anything can fall through the cracks.  

The tech, who is used to semis, didn't know quite what to do so I read from the manual about the petcock being on the frame rail, next to the transmission, under the driver's seat that needs to be drained of 60-75 ml of water until fuel flows.  Ted had gotten a cup from inside so the tech slid under (that's the part that Ted can't do) and turned the petcock (what I can't do) and drained the module.  We asked what we owed him and he said nothing because he really didn't do any repair but we could give him $20 if we wanted!  So we did.  From now on, before any trip, the truck is going up on the lift and getting that module drained while the trailer isn't attached!

Having a problem while driving an RV where you get parked safely, get back on the road in under an hour for $20, you have a WIN!  I stopped at the Border Patrol checkpoint at Fulfurrias where I was waved through without even one question and then one stop at the rest area.  I enjoyed the bluebonnets and primrose blooming all along the way.

We got set up in the campground in Victoria by 3:00 and left to find the church.  Once we did that we went to Mumphord's BBQ.  We were warned about the outside appearance but were told not to let it deter us. The recommendation was right on!  I had turkey but Ted had ribs, brisket and sausage which we declared all excellent.  

We had enough time to stop at the store for Dawn and Pledge that I needed before heading back to the church.  Despite the long Palm Sunday service we were out before 6:45.  We stopped by Dairy Queen for an ice cream before coming home for the evening.

We were up and on our way by 8:30 Sunday morning and had an easy drive into Houston.  The further north we went, the bigger the blankets of wild flowers got.  So pretty!  Once in Houston we entered the I-610 circle from the SW, proceeded north then east to pick up I-45 north.  Just as the two 6 lane highways merge I heard a boom and my car went into limp mode.  I was losing speed and just barely moved to the far right lane when it stopped.  I put on my flashers and called Ted who was ahead of me.  I told him to continue on and get the trailer dropped at the campground and I would stay in touch.  I called Coach Net to see if they could at least send someone even though I knew I would have to pay.  She was more concerned with getting me to a safe place and said she was calling 911.  Just then I saw a wrecker making its way to me.  The man stopped traffic to get pulled up behind me, helped me to his truck to be safe and loaded the car on.  I asked him to take me to the nearest Ford dealer.  Houston has a Safe Clear law and if you are blocking traffic, and I was, they will safely tow you 20 miles for $167, you have no choice.  I frankly was delighted to be rescued.  

Because it was Sunday we could not get onto the first dealer's property so he took me to the next one closer to my home.  They too were closed but their Quick Lane oil change business was open and said we could drop the car there and to call Service first thing Monday and they would come over to get it.  

Once off the wrecker bed, the car started, went in gear and moved forward and reverse.  He said sometimes the transport will get just enough fuel to start the motor but he was of the opinion it was something to do with the fuel pump, maybe a belt or hose.  We shall see.  The good news was I checked our auto insurance and we have $150 towing coverage!  It is just hard to believe we have had no trouble with either vehicle and then pow!, both of them one right after the other.

I called Ted who had dropped the trailer and set it up. He left immediately to come get me.  His brother told us to come by and take their Lexus to use.  So we stopped there to do that.  I also gave my sister-in-law the eye drops we had brought back for her.

Finally we made it to the campground and packed the truck and Lexus and moved stuff home.  Monday Ted emptied the refrigerator and cleaned it.  We leave it open to totally dry out.  The bathroom was next and then normal dusting, vacuuming and floors.  We had until Tuesday to move the trailer to storage but did it Monday evening.

I had been working non stop on all the mail and paperwork waiting for me.  I did my sister-in-law's taxes.  Because she has to file a Schedule D, the free filings are not free.  First one I tried was $26, the second $46!  I just went to .gov, filled out her forms, printed them and sent them with an addressed envelope to her to sign and send.  Then I did ours and we have an $800 refund instead of having to pay, welcome news.  I went through all the mail, sent a wedding RSVP, ordered the gift, got checks ready for deposit, sent a birthday card to my brother, emailed our window washer's name to my friend who had requested it and now I have a huge stack of filing and one for shredding.

I also called our insurance and filed a claim for my towing.  No problem.  When I contacted Coach Net about our expired membership I was informed the billing was emailed to - wait for it - trogers! who promptly replied he didn't get an email bill (in October 2016!).  Some things just aren't worth arguing about!  

My car is being looked at today.  They were able to drive it from the oil change area to the Service area so we are thinking it is not the motor or transmission.  Ted said maybe the catalytic converter!  

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Last Week of the 2018 Season

There will be a lot of "lasts for this year" this week.  We already did our last trip to Mexico.  Saturday we attended our last Mass with Fr. Roy.  Because it was St. Paddy's Day we were greeted with bagpipes, Danny Boy and When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.  The gospel was the reading of raising Lazarus from the dead.  After a terrific sermon on the end of life to a very captive audience of senior citizens, Fr. Roy chose Brooks and Dunn's I Believe to complete his message.  One of the lines is "you can't tell me it ends in a slow ride in a hearse."  Very thought provoking!  Our departing song was Happy Trails To You to say goodbye to the winter Texans, most of whom will leave this week to be home for Easter, us included.  We will certainly miss this part of our months in the valley.

Sunday afternoon was more of the same.  Skeet for Ted, laundry for me.  I said goodbye to my laundromat amigos.  They know me as the Sunday morning gringo!  Everyone there has been friendly and helpful.  I must admit I am looking forward to my own washer and dryer at home though!

When I returned, I played mahjongg. The "veteran" players from next door came over and I played with three of them and won two games. They all pronounced me totally ready to play with anyone.  Two were surprised I had only learned last year.  Now I need to join a group back home.

I had a pork loin in the crockpot so we had pulled pork for dinner then watched TV.  The programs ran late because of the March Madness games.  

Richard was scheduled at 3 pm Monday to wash and wax the RV.  We have it done every year to help protect the finish.  Lord knows Ted has to wash the front each time we travel to get the bugs off but the wax helps keep the rest easy to keep clean with minimal effort.  It is still 38 feet on two sides and almost 9 feet across the front and back so just wiping it down takes quite a bit of time.  But Richard came before lunch.  Ah Mañana!  Whenever!  It actually turned out better because it was a bit cloudy and later on the sun came out. I was held hostage inside while they washed it.

It was a delightful afternoon and we sat out under the pergola for awhile.  

Eventually we had dinner and a quick trip to Dairy Queen.  We ran into Jack and Margaret who had come because he needed a burger and she wanted ice cream!  We had a nice chat with them before coming home for the evening.

We took my car to the detailer on Tuesday morning after Ted went to the gun range.  We were invited to Niles and Sue's on Wednesday so I sent Ted off to the grocery when I went to play mahjongg.  Dinner was to be at the clubhouse courtesy of the Landscape Company Tuesday night so I didn't have to concern myself with that.  While I was at the clubhouse Ted switched cars so they could detail his truck and when I finished I went to hold a table out on the patio.  We had a nice dinner of fish, tater tots and really good cole slaw.  The only problem was they ran out of cooked food and the last people had to wait a long time until the pans were refilled.  Afterwards we went to pick up Ted's truck.  All vehicles are cleaned and waxed!

I offered to make baked beans for dinner at Sue and Niles.  Mine calls for chopped green pepper and onions and half cooked bacon.  I got that all ready to go and about 2:00 I sautéed the peppers and onions in the bacon grease and then put in all the other ingredients, mixed it up, put the half cooked cut up bacon on top and popped it in the convection oven.  Then we both left to get much needed haircuts.  When we returned we took our beans and drinks down the street for a burger, slaw, green beans, baked beans and chocolate square cookies dinner!  It was another "last neighbor dinner" for this year.

Thursday Sue and I went to the Mexican flea market at the foot of the bridge into Reynosa.  That is a city most of us will not go to because it is dangerous.  That and Matamoras both have highways from Mexico's interior leading into the city and the drug cartel is a problem.  I thought Sue was going to jump out of the car because we had to drive to the last street before going across the bridge.  I assured her I was not going to go into Mexico.  She said I was much braver than she is!  

We were looking for an Air Fryer for her.  We looked around and found several.  One was a nice clean stall, the gentleman spoke perfect English, the appliance was still packed in its box surrounded by styrofoam and had a direction/cookbook.  She bought it for $20.  It was a JCP brand and she looked it up in their catalogue on the way back.  It was originally $100, on sale for $60 plus shipping and tax.  Good buy!

We stopped for a "last Thursday lunch" at Olive Garden.  Coming from out in the country in Minnesota this was only her second visit to an Olive Garden!  We will miss our time together but we may see each other this summer.  We have offers to stop at several of our Retama friends who live north and west.  Just have to decide where we are going!  Glacier National Park is a good possibility.


Monday, March 12, 2018

Two Weeks and Counting

When it gets this close to departure time I start getting anxious.  Things are piling up in my To Do column - our mail, taxes, end of fiscal year volunteer wrap ups, print out and organize our September cruise and Hawaii vacation info and receipts.  We go to a nearby campground for two nights to give us time to empty the trailer, then clean it inside and out before returning it to storage.  Then we get to tackle all the stuff we have taken home that needs to be put away!  We leave most things in the RV but the clothes closet, pantry, refrigerator and freezer need to be emptied and then there are Ted's "toys" and what I have purchased while gone!  It amazes me how a 38 foot trailer partial contents can mess up a whole house!

Sunday Ted went shooting and I played mahjongg.  We had such a good time because we were all slap happy for some reason and every mistake just got funnier and funnier.  Ted ordered a pizza for dinner so we wouldn't have clean up before going up to the pool patio to see the show.

Rainie, from Thunder Bay, ON is a Patsy Cline legend singer and puts on a great show.  It was very hot all day (record high of 101) but the wind whipped up cooling it off and I thought we would all be blown away!  Rainie was a trooper and didn't let the wind bother her too much!  She did have to stay put at the big mic and not walk among the audience to insure the wind didn't drown her out.  It was certainly enjoyable.

On Monday we had dentist appointments to have our teeth cleaned at 9:00 a.m. in Progreso so we were up and out by 8 a.m.  All I know is it is really dark at 7:15 CDT!   We were taken right away and heading to the pedicure place in no time,  Ted has two pedicures a year.  One when we arrive and one right before we leave.  Don't ask!  I don't know.  The guy spent a lot of time taking care of him.  

From there we stopped for coffee at Rene's and also bought the last of the meds on our list.  We were finished with our last trip to Mexico for this year.  Since we were so close we went to Premium Outlets for a few things I wanted to look at.  I found what I wanted and we were on our way in record time.  It was going on 3:00 so we stayed in the rest of the afternoon, had dinner and then watched TV.

Ted went clay bird shooting Tuesday morning and I cleaned up a bit while talking to Kara on the phone.  She is so like me and wants to get these plane tickets for Hawaii put to bed.  I have told everyone to make their own reservations because it would be like herding cats for someone other than a professional to navigate those waters.  I know there is plenty of time but told her to do whatever she is comfortable with.

In the afternoon I played mahjongg and Ted ran to Sam's and HEB.  We are doing pretty good with getting the freezer empty, so-so on the fridge and the pantry looks like we haven't used a thing.  I did have rice when Vicki rushed over Sunday asking for some to put her hearing aid in since she dropped it somewhere wet!  Today we asked if it worked and she said not the first day but it did the second.  So happy we could help and that it worked!  

We had dinner and watched TV.  It is so nice to have some new episodes instead of all the repeats!

I picked up Marisa at 9:00 on Wednesday morning to go to the beauty school for a facial.  It has been years since I had one but I agreed to go.  I was glad to hear that I should continue doing whatever I am because my skin is in great condition for someone my age.  Marisa was sold some creams but my lady declared I should just continue with my own products.  You can only expect so much out of a jar I suspect!  We had nice chats coming and going and she invited us to stay on their farm as we pass through Nebraska this summer.  We just might do that!

We had made plans for Karen and me to go shopping while Ted, Dave and Glenn shot skeet.  After they were finished we were to meet them at Cheddar's.  Our first stop was Dillard's, then Macy's and last stop TJ Maxx as we made our way west to Cheddar's.  I bought a dress to wear to Morgan's Confirmation, 3 tops and a pair of shoes.  Karen bought two dresses.  Not a shopping marathon but enough to keep us happy.

After a nice dinner we parted company with Karen and Dave heading to Llano Grande to the east and we came home west to Retama!  The March Madness screwed up our normal TV programming so we had to make do with Me TV for the evening.

Mimi lives across the street and hosts a Muffins with Mimi morning each year and it was held on Friday.  There were about 40 ladies present and everyone had a good time eating all the delicious muffins Mimi made.  The amazing thing is Mimi has to eat gluten free and is still one of the best bakers in our Village.

We played our usual games of mahjongg in the afternoon but ladies from next door joined us so we had a bigger crowd.  I won one game.  I was close a couple of times and in left field on occasion.  Sometimes the tiles just don't come together.  

At 6:00 Niles and Sue picked us up to go out to dinner.  We had a coupon for B1G1F fish and chips.  Since it was Friday we thought it a good day to use it.  They had brisket and chicken and were  pleased with the food and the prices.  We then gave them our coupon book since we will be leaving and they are here for another six weeks.  We bought it at the Expo in January and certainly got our money's worth.  I hope they get more value out of it before leaving.  I told them to pass it on to Mark and Dortha if they wanted.  We spent the balance of the evening watching TV.

One week from today we will be hooking up and heading out. It will be good to get back home.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Making Appointments

Sunday Ted and the fellows went to Coyote to shoot sporting clays instead of skeet.  I, on the other hand, got to do laundry!  I will probably have one more trip before I get home to my own washer and dryer.  I have it down to a science now to minimize time and expense.  Three washers for whites, colors and darks, then two dryers splitting up the three for 20 minutes.  Then I pull out what is dry from both, consolidate what wasn't dried and do another 10 minutes.  Down to 1.5 hours and under $8!

I was home in time to make up a tray of sausage, cheese and crackers to take to our Mahjong party.  Rosie had invited our next door campground neighbors over for the afternoon.  There were 20 women in all and a bar full of food and drinks.  I held my own against these veteran players but didn't win.  The last thing to learn is determining what other hands are being played and what you need to do to stop them.  I still have lots to learn.  I did keep two ladies from winning by not throwing what I figured out they needed.  

On Monday Ted made dentist appointments for both of us, reserved our campground spot for our trip home, and for at home while unloading and cleaning.  He scheduled Richard to wash and wax the trailer the Monday before we leave and will have the truck and car detailed that same week.  I still need a hair appointment too.  We plan to stop in Victoria Saturday night so we can gas up my car, go to church and have dinner out.  Then we can drive through Houston Sunday morning before traffic gets too bad.  

Monday was also our ladies lunch and there were about 30 in attendance.  I rode with four other ladies and had as much fun coming and going as I did at the restaurant.  On the way home we stopped by our Activity Director for all of us to purchase our tickets for the Patsy Cline legend singer who is appearing here Sunday evening on the patio around the pool.

I was home only long enough to change shoes before heading to the nail salon and grocery.  When I returned we cut up orange, green and red peppers and onions and stir fried them with fajita meat.  I made some barrocho beans and warmed tortillas.  Who knew we would turn into locals when it came to eating?

Not too much went on Tuesday.  Ted received a call from Gary early and asked him to report to the range as safety officer for clay birds since I guess he couldn't for some reason.  While he was gone I colored my hair and then cleaned.  After lunch I played Mahjong winning one game and being a tile away on two others. 

For dinner I experimented with my Instant Pot.  A problem I constantly have is a freezer full of frozen food so nothing is available to cook for dinner.  I took a 3# frozen Butterball turkey breast roast (I had to run it under warm water to detach the pouch with gravy fixings), left the netting on, rubbed it with oil and seasonings and put it on the trivet in the Pot with two cups of broth.  I set it for 60 minutes after it pressurized.

Voila!  Perfect turkey breast.  I let it set while I dumped the gravy mixings into the broth, set the pot to Brown/Sear while I put Stove Top in the microwave.  That and applesauce was dinner.  The turkey was moist, tender and flavorful.  I took half the cooked turkey to Sue who had complained she had nothing to fix for dinner and included one of the three meat loaves I still have in the freezer for another day.  It is time to start emptying the pantry and refrigerator/freezer.  Ted and I both proclaimed the turkey attempt a success.

Wednesday we didn't do much of anything except for a nice visit with Ed and Marilyn next door.  We sort of crashed their patio where they had another couple visiting.  We laughed at some really funny stories!  

Thursday Ted went shooting at Mission and Sue and I shopped and had lunch at Zoe's Kitchen.  It was quite good!!  In the afternoon, three of us played impromptu mahjongg in the afternoon.  We had breakfast for dinner, my go to when nothing else is available (that frozen thing again).

Friday was more shooting and mahjong.  The weather hasn't been bad but the sun must be on vacation.  It is just easier to go to the clubhouse to play mahjongg than hang around outside.  It was after 5:00 when I came home so we hit McDonald's for Friday fish sandwiches.  

So many people are departing and things are starting to look empty with many rigs gone.  We only have two weeks left because we are leaving a week early.  I would rather be home than on the road on Easter.  We went to church, ate dinner at Cowboy Chicken and then played card bingo.  Next week is the St. Patrick's party so that was our last time to play until next year!  

God never ends anything on a negative; God always ends on a positive. Because what is negative about going home?” ~ Shannon Ald