Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Last Week of 2019

We had a fairly quiet weekend after the week of activity getting here.

Sunset looking out our RV door,

I was anxious to play mahjong again but I had not even looked at the new card for 2019 that arrived at home on April 1 let alone actually played in our Newcomers group.  So Friday was my first attempt - and I won two games!  What a confidence builder!

We had a list of some meds for our friend and our daughter so we headed to Mexico.  The reports have been to not cross into Reynosa or Matamoras and Progresso was iffy.  I read about the incident in the parking lot and determined it was a local encounter of young folks so we went ahead.  If the parking lot was empty or things felt strange when we crossed the bridge, we would duck into the first pharmacy, get what we needed and come right home.

The parking lot was full, people were walking across the bridge, the streets were crowded and all appeared normal.  We stopped in Jessica’s and gave our list to Arturo and went into the restaurant for free coffee while we waited.  Later in the day it becomes free margaritas!

The coffee cup they served Ted’s coffee in!  He didn’t see it until I started laughing.

They had all we needed except for a fourth box of what our friend needed.  Also he had not given me enough to buy four.  I texted him and we agreed I would buy the three, mail them to him and float him a loan to buy the fourth box when it became available and we could bring it home before he needed it.  So that’s what we did.

Ted wanted a pedicure so I walked the entire town stopping at every pharmacy, and there are many, but could not find a fourth box of pills.  I did stop at El Disco to buy a painted glass set of salt and pepper shakers to replace the ones my niece left in her cabin in Nashville during the family reunion.  I brought them along with the 5 dozen scrambled eggs I made but she didn’t realize they were mine.

Our last stop was at Rene’s where we normally have coffee and cinnamon rolls but it was late so I chose lonches for lunch instead.  They brought us chips covered with white and yellow melted cheese while I waited and Ted ate his roll in front of me!  I am dealing with less than a pound over goal and need to make it go away.

My plate came with four (!) sandwiches.  I took the tomato, avocado and grilled onions off then made two meat and onion sandwiches for Ted and put the tomato back on mine.  Neither of us eat avocados.  They are small so two was just right!  And Ted ate breakfast and lunch in succession!

When we crossed the bridge to come home, people were being stopped on the bridge at the actual border.  In years gone by everyone could cross into the US, half a bridge length, before arriving at Customs, but no more.  We had our passports in our hands and were waved through.  I tell Ted we look like Joe and Josephine Tourist so they don’t waste time getting us out of the way.

We stopped at Dickies to return my jeans.  They had the tiny 3 inch zipper and sat too low.  They were just uncomfortable.  I got two tops and Ted a new jacket instead.  We went to church at 5:00 and came home.

Sunday Ted went shooting and I played mahjong again.  I won three games!  Getting jokers certainly helps!  I made three 8 x 8 trays of lasagna for dinner.  Two I stuck in the freezer for another time.

The only thing we did Monday was drive to the post office in Penitas to mail the two boxes of drugs - one to Texas, the other to Michigan.  We still need to get Ted’s eye drops, his analgesic back cream and my two boxes of Eliquis to stay out of the donut hole next November and December!

Tonight is New Year’s Eve.  Our plans are to go to church at 6 pm, eat out somewhere then check in on the 6 hour party at the clubhouse.  I doubt we stay until midnight, but maybe the 11 pm CST ball drop in NYC on TV will do.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Merry Christmas

The weather was warm and the holidays beautiful but Christmas attire was out of the question because I would have been very warm.  We were invited to Nile’s and Susan’s for heavy appetizers and drinks Christmas Eve.  I made deviled eggs because they are hearty and easy and they were not cheese spreads, sausage and crackers.  They have bought a house so are no longer across the street from us, just a short walk though.  

We had called church to find out Mass times and we both had 8:00 in our heads.  The lady giving out the info was not a great English speaker so just maybe she said it wrong versus us hearing wrong.  So we left the gathering and arrived to see people leaving!  This didn’t bode well.  Ted parked and I went to read the sign in front.  There had been a 6:30 Mass that was just letting out and another at 8:30!  So we went back to Walgreen’s to pick up some things and still returned in time to get a good parking spot and seat in church.  

Fr. Roy did not disappoint.  Mary and Joseph came down the aisle with the donkey, Jesus magically appeared from under Mary’s cloak, the angel of the Lord rose above the group, opening her wings to show gold lights outlining the underside and shepherds appeared from the right.  When they got to the heavenly host of angels part, two dozen children dressed in white robes and silver tinsel halos ran down the center aisle to the manger ringing bells all the way.  What fun!  When we left, the beautiful church bells were playing Christmas carols, all the grounds were dressed in colored lights and despite the temperature and palm trees, it felt like Christmas!  

Christmas Day I made sweet potatoes and raw cranberry relish to contribute to the clubhouse potluck. John and Vivienne who had been work camping next door came over to join us.  She had made a chocolate pie and vodka soaked cherries dipped in chocolate.  There were four long tables of food plus two tables of desserts.  The ham and rolls were supplied and everything else was home made.  I did not see one thing that looked store bought.  There was a great turnout and everything went very smoothly.  Kudos to the committee!

We returned to the RV and had a few hours until our very good friends that we had not seen in some time, Jay and Stella, came to visit.  I prepared a plate of sausage, cheese, crackers and some candy and cookies.  We had such a nice visit for a few hours before we called it a night.  It was so good to see them and I know we will see them some more.  

The day after Christmas was the off site ladies breakfast.  I was to pick up three ladies, actually got four, and joined another group at the Griffin Grille.  I ended up taking five home!  They are glad my Expedition is back!

Just to be sure I didn’t sit down too long, we received a text from Niles:  3 o’clock wall tour, 4:00 o’clock leftover Christmas food and drinks on the patio.

This is a wall being built on private property with private funds and will be 3.5 miles long.  It borders sugar cane fields that were a perfect place for illegals to hide as soon as they came off the Rio Grande River.  There has been very few crossings since 24 hour guards are on the worksite and sensors turn on lights if tripped.  

This is how they are staged in preparation for placement.

Then they are “picked up” by this heavy equipment.  The horizontal bars are the lifters, not part of the fence.

Then they are set in these troughs and set in concrete.

The ground between the river and fence has already been hydro seeded, gets watered on a consistent basis and trees are being planted.  The other side will continue to be planted in sugar cane.  It is a massive undertaking but it pushes crossings into fewer areas and allows the Border Patrol to more easily apprehend them.  

Upon our return I took a big platter and did just what Niles said.  I put small remaining amounts of cheese, sausage, cookies, fruit cake and candy, plus a basket of crackers together and headed to their patio.  We all had to share a memory from days gone by.  We shared our story of riding the bus in Strasberg, France and almost getting caught without a ticket.  

Breakfast, House Tour, Lunch

I agreed to take Esther (age 8o something) to the Newcomers December meeting that was a continental breakfast at the country club, house tours to see five decorated homes, then back to the country club for lunch.  There was a sing along, a visit from Santa with a small gift for all and a raffle.  I only took a few photos because I had my phone set up with the addresses and kept forgetting to take it in with me.

Friday our granddaughter and her in-laws arrived for the weekend.  Because we needed to take the RV to the campground to get loaded up, we moved it a day early so we could give them the house since there were five of them plus the baby.

They arrived at 5:15 and we had to leave for a dinner at 5:30.  We warned them of this and they were fine because they were all tired from the long trip from Michigan.  We gave them a few instructions on using things and left for dinner at Irene’s plus an evening of cards.  I was winning until the last hand, and though I got down, it was too little too late!

We spent Saturday with just the kids while the others visited their family.  Then we met at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  I don’t know who was more excited, the staff who were happy to have Mexicans ordering stuff we didn’t even recognize or our guests who were delighted to find real Mexican cuisine.

Ally joined us for church on Sunday and once the van was all loaded up, the others left for the family AirBnB that had been rented and we took our kids to breakfast/lunch then dropped them off to join the others.  We went back home, laundered the linens and took down what few decorations I had up then retreated to the RV in preparation for our Monday morning departure.

We had an uneventful travel day and made the trip to Mission in 7 hours.  We were set up in no time (thank you, Niles, for the parking assist).  We spent time unloading stuff into the coach house and settling the inside.  Our evening was quiet.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Christmas Busy!

Monday I played Canasta with just 7 other ladies since so many could not make it.  If not for making our wild card Canasta once I would have won!  We play for $1 so not much lost.  Afterwards I dropped my Christmas cards off at the post office then continued on to UPS to mail two packages.

Tuesday was my friend Irene’s big surprise birthday party at a local restaurant.  I picked up Carol and drove in the rain to the venue where there were 33 ladies present to honor her.  She turned 80, takes no meds, walks everyday, is fit and trim and attributes no alcohol, lots of water, vitamins and keeping busy to her good health.  When I took her for foot surgery the doctor said she was the healthiest 79 year old he had ever seen especially one taking no meds.

Wednesday was a funeral at church but I had my dessert all ready to go and Ted dropped it off.  I spent the rest of the day cleaning and getting dishes and things ready for the group coming for dessert, coffee and presents on Thursday.

Our group for Thursday’s annual neighborhood Christmas lunch was cut almost in half with the death of one’s mother, the fall of another, two sick, one attending a retiree luncheon, etc.  We all gathered back at my house to share an enormous amount of desserts and drinks!

Friday was deviled eggs for another funeral.  Most everyone loves deviled eggs, they are always all eaten but apparently no one likes to make them!  My Instant Pot makes short work of boiling them and they peel so easily.  I am the official deviled egg lady at church!  Ted took my two dozen eggs to church for me and then we went shopping for our 2 year old great niece Anna who would be having dinner with us.

I wrapped the presents for Terry, Carol and Anna and we left to meet them at the country club for dinner. Anna is their great granddaughter, Kelsey is their granddaughter and Kenny is their son with his wife Jana, all from Alabama.  We had a delightful visit and meal.  Family is so important around the holidays!

Friend Tommy called to say they were going to be in the area Saturday to visit Susan’s aunt in hospice.  They wanted us to have lunch so we agreed to meet them at 1:00.  Susan was visibly upset and said she doubted her aunt would live through the day.  We had a nice lunch, got caught up with them and all the changes coming - Susan’s retirement, gutting the house for a redo and possibly a new motorhome down the road before saying our goodbyes.

We were going to church at 5:00 and then to play Shanghai so I got my cheeses, crackers and dishes together so we could go right over to Connie’s afterwards.  Ted forgot his glasses so we had to go home anyway so he could see to play cards.

We had a very nice spread despite Connie having a broken foot and using one of those knee scooters to get around.  And I won!  Well, actually Connie and I tied.  The leader did not get down in Game 6 so she was caught with a handful of points, Connie had 10 and I had 13.  Turns out Connie had 3 points in her hand matching my score so we split the pot.

On the way home I had a message from Susan, her aunt had indeed passed later in the day.  Such a hard blow, especially around the holidays.

Ted is leaving for Plano TX Sunday to make a business call first thing Monday morning.  He will be back in the afternoon.  This next week is less busy so I will start getting ready to load the trailer.  Also, our baby Cece and her “other side of the family” will be here Friday to stay with us until their family reunion starts.  We are looking forward to seeing them again.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

The Rest Of the Week

Since our Christmas cards had arrived, I worked on them on Friday.  Nancy stopped by to pick up her Christmas gift since she will not be at the neighborhood lunch this upcoming week and I prepared two boxes to be shipped to Michigan and Indiana.  We met Gerre and Barry for dinner and then saw A Christmas Carol, The Musical.  It was well done and because there was no intermission we were out of there at 9:40 much to Ted’s delight.

I was busy most of Saturday with the afternoon devoted to making lemon blossoms for a funeral Wednesday and some for our neighborhood dessert and present gathering here after lunch on Thursday.  We did go to church at 5:00 and then on to Cracker Barrel for dinner.  

Ted was shooting Sunday so I got the house all in order, finished the Christmas cards, finished my book and watched the Finale of Dancing With The Stars that I had missed while we were gone.  We met John and Irene at Perry’s Steakhouse at 4:00 to celebrate her birthday and to thank him for taking us to and picking us up from the airport for our Ireland trip. Since we had a 7:30 am flight to Detroit, we drove ourselves.  I won’t ask someone to get up at 5:00 am or come out late at night to save about $50.  Good flight times and longer absences play a huge role in whether we will ask for a ride to the airport.

Our dinner was terrific.  Another friend Nancy happened by and another Val was being seated with her husband.’s golf group.  It filled up really fast starting at 6:00 pm just as we were heading home.

Ted had to drive to Lufkin as soon as we got home.  He texted me when he had arrived at the Hilton and was in for the night.  

Our son-in-law’s mother who was with us at Thanksgiving and at  the dinner for Kara’s 50th birthday dinner was hospitalized with some sort of internal bleeding.  Hopefully there will be some diagnostic  tests and a plan developed early Monday morning.

Home For Awhile

Wednesday was unpacking and laundry day.  Even though I had access to a washer and dryer, I chose to just bring it home to do.  We had all the gifts we brought back to find homes for.  I have my new Kindle up and running but I haven’t synced my 300+ books from Kindle 1 to Kindle 2 and I Pad 10 Pro.   I haven’t had much time to research what is probably not a hard thing.  I downloaded a new Nelson DeMille book and have already read it.

Thursday was our Sustainer Christmas outing and we toured the West Wing, an exact replica plus other things in a private home where we live.  It is a long story so I will just show the finished product.

George was a Navy pilot and flew this plane.  It is suspended from the ceiling.  The last shot is from the second story.

The flag which gives you an idea of the first floor size where two Ferraris, a Bentley and a red vintage Cadillac convertible were housed.

A gym housed in one corner.

The second plane photo.

Walking straight ahead you enter the replica West Wing.  GWB 2 rug, Obama wallpaper, white shell moldings from same company that made the ones in the White House

Presidential seal in ceiling.

Exact replica of Resolution desk.  A famous photo has young John John playing at JFK ‘s feet.

Moi on the phone at the president’s desk.

It is all exactly replicated using many of the same vendors that provide the White House with things.

Off to the left is the Cabinet Room and the Vice President’s office.

The opposite direction has the First Lady’s office.  This photo of Jackie Kennedy hangs there.

The veranda, fountain and gardens were spectacular.

The second floor is a party room with two bowling alleys, stage, sound equipment, bar to accommodate 50 bar stools, a video game corner, two billiard tables and a hand shuffleboard.

We were allowed to tour this private residence “garage” because our Sustainer leader is friends with his neighbor and helper with all things White House.  She served as our docent.  Afterwards we passed the “house” on our way to lunch.