Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year a day early. We usually conk out early, so I won't have a chance to wish everyone a Happy New Year at midnight tonight.

Mom is cooking a smoked turkey and I am making some goodies to take over, so we will have a great dinner and afterwards we will play cards. Should be lots of fun. Last time we ended the evening in a draw, both couples winning the same.

Yesterday the temperature climbed into the mid-60's which was great because there was no wind and the sun was out, so it was actually warm enough to be out in shirtsleeves. We went to the mall in the morning and walked and then did some shopping for a new TV for the bedroom. Haven't found anything yet.

Today the temperature is supposed to get up to 78. Whoo hoo! I can't wait. That will mean that Neal will want out to sit most of the afternoon. He loves getting out and laying in the drive. I have a cushion I put out for him and he lays on it. He gets excited when other dogs come to visit. Most in the neighborhood now know Neal and know that he cannot walk much, so they will come up and they greet each other. Neal loves having other dogs (and cats) around, and it is good for him to have that interaction.

A lot of people come around to look at our canopy. It is good looking, if I do say so myself. It is so nice to have a dry place to sit if it's raining. And a dry place to park the car. We do have a problem with the noise when we run our air conditioners. They vent straight up and the air echos against the roof of the canopy. So we are experimenting with ways to deaden that noise. We only have one close neighbor and he says it doesn't bother them, but we don't care to hear the noise when outside. We shouldn't have to run our AC's as much with the canopy, so it won't be a big problem, but we will figure something out.

The sun is shining and no breeze yet. . . that is a bit odd for the valley, but it may start up later. A great day coming up!

Till next time. . .


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Keepin' Dry!

Well, I am glad we got our canopy up when we did, because since Christmas we have had steady misting, drizzle, and almost rain. Fortunately, everything under the canopy is dry, which means Neal can go out to the "doggie" yard and do his business without getting wet. It has been cold also--cold for south Texas that is. Yesterday it was in the mid-50's, today 50 seems to be the high.

We decided to go out to Penitas to mail a package to our friend, The Texan, and went to Wal-Mart too. I asked Mom if they needed anything and she said they were probably going to go out as well because they were getting cabin fever and just wanted to get out and do something.

Apparently that is what everyone here was thinking because we saw a half dozen people from our park. . . and that was just the ones we knew! It sure it hard to get motivated to do anything with this weather. We just want to take naps. Hahahaha. Oh well, I guess that doesn't really matter. We can if we want to! This is winter in the Rio Grande Valley. In a couple weeks it will all be behind us and we will be sitting by the pool.

Till next time. . .


Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to All!

Today we unwrapped our presents early and talked with both the kids. We visited with Mom and Dad and got to listen in on their conversation with my sister. We gathered at the hall around noon and had dinner with others from the park. The turkey and ham were delicious as were all the trimmings.

Mom and Dad have been coming down here for over 20 years. We are newbies!

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

We're home!

The workers were back today at 8 a.m. and worked quickly to attach all the facia, gutters, and downspouts. They worked nonstop to get finished. Mario was back with his three little boys and they again worked tirelessly, one painting welds and two moving tools and fetching screws, etc., for the workers. I asked Mario if he paid his little boys. He just grinned and said yes, but I asked him if I could give them something for helping. He said yes and just before they all finished and left, I asked the boys to come over. I told them I appreciated them coming to help their dad on our building, especially because it was their Christmas vacation. I was impressed with how hard they all worked and then gave them each $20 for their help and to make their Christmas extra special. They all thanked me and wished me a Merry Christmas. It was so nice to see young boys neatly dressed, working without whining and staying busy all day, never complaining about the work or wanting to go home. I hope the work ethic Mario has instilled continues with them as they mature.

The last thing they did was to make two "X" shaped cable tension braces. They work to steady the structure. We had a lot of neighbors suggesting they thought it was moving a little too much. We had 35 mph winds and two workmen on top walking around. Well, duh. By the time they were down and the braces in place, very little movement was discernible.

I had a Canadian visitor from Pleasant Valley who I wanted to tell to leave this morning. It's not unusual to be the talk of the park when you put something like this up. But today Mario and his men were stringing the cable tensioners. It's not anything you should be standing underneath. And this man seemed detemined to talk to one of the workman, a man who does not speak English. He was attempting to talk and when the man didn't answer, he continued following him and touching his arm, etc. Normally one of the little boys would have come to the Mexican's rescue, but none was available, so I walked over and explained that Angel didn't speak English and asked if there was something I could help him with. He rudely said, "Why? I'm not holding up progress or anything, am I?" I was quite taken aback by this nasty demeanor especially because I was not confrontational. I thought I might suggest he step back as well because no one should be standing under the cable tensioners. I told him no he was not, but that Angel would not respond because he doesn't speak English. The man then asked if the building was mine and I said yes. He then asked me if I was rich. I just looked at him. He said I didn't have to tell him but that he was Canadian and if he had put up such a building, he would be rich. Then he launched into something about the Canadians in the space program. . . . It kind of went like that until he said he had to get back. He seemed to have some problems, mental and physical. . . some sort of tremors. From the way he digressed, I'm not sure what his problem was, but I am glad he chose to leave when he did. I was about ready to ask him to leave.

While Mario was working on the cable tensioners, he was using a woven wire to place around the cable end. This woven wire would grab the wire and when tension was applied, it holds the cable end firmly in place. Terry had never seen this and it is very neat looking. The finished building is quite impressive, we think, and very neat underneath and outside. We are very pleased. The workers finished at 2 p.m. and we were back "home" by 4 p.m.

I had made lasagne this morning, so Mom baked it at her house and when we took a break from setting everything back up, we had supper with Mom and Dad. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And the work continues. . .

Today Mario and his men were on the job before 8 a.m. They weren't here yesterday except to clean up the pad late in the day. The concrete around the posts was still curing. But that isn't to say they weren't working. When Mario arrived today he had the trusses on his trailer, already welded up with brackets, etc. It was obvious he had worked all day getting the material ready and he had all the material on his trailer except for the trim and guttering which he picked up later in the day.

We had a lot of wind yesterday and there was wind today, although not as bad. Mario said he did all the welding like he did because it would be easier to put things together in the wind. He had measured everything and made the cuts, so all his men had to do was put things together on site. Everything fit together perfectly. We were unsure if Mario's promise to finish by Christmas was going to ring true, but after today, we know it will. They will be done tomorrow.

It was interesting to watch the men work. No one sat down on the job; they all worked hard from 8 a.m. till they stopped at 6 p.m. They did take a lunch break and we gave them lawn chairs and a table on which to set the food Mario brought them. None of the workers speak any English, but they were grateful for the meager hospitality we offered.

Mario brought his three oldest sons and they were busy all day. They helped the men unload the rafters/trusses and the purlins. They were heavy, but the boys worked together with one other man and they got the job done. When the workers were hoisting the rafters up, the oldest boy was working the winch. He obviously has done this before, because he knew what he was doing. Mario was very patient with them and I could tell by watching that they liked helping their dad. Mario called the lift a "Mexican crane." It was truck winch powered by a jump start. Standing 15 feet up on the scaffolding, he did his job well. They strapped the rafter to the winch and it took little time to get the job done. But I was glad when the third one was up and in place. The purlins were a little easier. Mario fashioned a hook which they tied onto a strap. With a strap on either end of the purlin, the workers pulled the beam up to their station and bolted it in place. When the boys weren't busy offloading material, they busied themselves taking tools to men and fetching bolts.

After all the rafters and purlins/beams were in place, the workmen took their lunch break. After that, they placed and screwed all the steel roofing in place. While they were doing that, the oldest boy worked brushing all the welds where the rafters rested on the posts and then spray painted them with primer.

Tomorrow they will finish up the trim, facia, and the guttering. We are so pleased with our canopy. It will be so nice to be out of the sun. Now I know we come here for the sun and the weather, but the best part is the shade. It can be 100 degrees here in the sun and a cool breeze blows in the shade. In the winter time, it is easy to be comfortable here in south Texas. And if we are ever here in the summer, the canopy will protect us from the sun. In fact, once "winter" is over in the valley, the sun will be hot and we will be enjoying our shade. We should be able to get by with less air conditioning as well.

We do seem to be the talk of the park. I'm sure everybody has their own idea of how they would do things differently. One resident spent quite a bit of time this morning watching and when I greeted him, he said, "I've got six grandsons I'd like to bring down here to show them how to work." Hah. A lot of people hire Mexican workers and they don't all work the way our crew has. I cannot say enough about Mario and his crew. We called him last Friday night, we signed our contract on Saturday, they started on Sunday, and they will be done on Thursday. They have been very professional, reliable and qualified. They arrive looking professional, with shirts emblazoned with the company name. Even though we cannot speak their language, they have been very respectful and we are glad we found them to do our building. Anyone in the valley who is looking at doing some commercial work, I would be happy to pass on contact information.

Till next time. . .


Monday, December 21, 2009

The work continues. . .

Today the workmen came back and set the posts in the ground and concreted them in. They didn't get started until about 3 p.m., so it was after dark when they finished. Terry helped them clean up and I moved the car around to shine the headlights on the lot so they could finish.

We didn't do much today except to watch the progress. We moved the motorhome Saturday so the workers would have plenty of room. We also didn't want any damage to the motorhome from all the work being done. We are parked on Mom and Dad's street, one street over from ours. We are about 4 lots down from Mom and Dad on the opposite side of the street.

Till next time. . .


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Work has started. . .

The workers arrived this morning and worked until 4:30. Their goal today was to get the holes dug for the posts that will support the superstructure. Three of the holes had to be cut through the concrete. Obviously those took the most time. They used a diamond blade on a circular saw to score the concrete and then used a hammer drill and a jack hammer to take it out. The holes were about 20 inches square and the concrete was several inches thick. They had wire in the concrete they had to cut and when they finally got to the dirt, they then used a post hold digger to go down about 4 feet. Prior to doing all that, they had to lay out the building so they would know exactly where the posts would be. We are using a commercial contractor and he has been very nice and very professional to work with.

I have pictures to post. I have, however, been dealing with a dying lcd screen on my 2-year old Gateway laptop and so I have switched to the Mac. I don't have my programs and stuff on here, and I am still in a learning curve with the Mac. I will try to figure out the picture stuff tomorrow and get some shots up.

We were very pleased with the progress today. Mario had asked if he could start today--actually a day early--and we were ready for them. They really want to get it done by Christmas and that would be great for us.

So check back tomorrow and I will have some pictures up.

Till next time. . .


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Things are looking up. . .

Well, I am feeling much better and the rain has stopped. Just getting out and spending time in the sunshine really helps.

We did do some looking over at Hidden Valley in our quest to find a builder for our canopy. We found one we liked and stopped to talk with the owner. It turns out he just had his done in March and he had a card with the builder's name. We came back and called him and Mario came out yesterday morning. Before the day was done, we had a contract. We got our building permit and the workers will start Monday morning setting posts. It will be 36' wide, covering most of both lots we have and 45' long. They will have to wait until late afternoon Tuesday or Wednesday to start with the super structure. Mario says if the weather cooperates they will be done by Christmas. Hopefully that will be the case, but even if they don't get done by then, it won't be long after. There is a vacant lot a few doors down from Mom and Dad. They know the lady who owns it and she has relatives that are coming in on the 30th. She will rent it to us for the time we need up to the 30th for a really reasonable price, so we are going to do that. It's very close to Mom and Dad and will give us the opportunity to be right there to watch the work being done.

I can't wait to be under cover. Anyone who spends time down here in south Texas knows how brutal the sun is. We don't complain because we like it sunny and warm, but motorhomes are not known for being really tight and it is expensive to keep it cool with the sun beating down on it. This will help tremendously by reducing the exposure on the coach. Also, right now when it rains, Neal has no choice but to go outside when it is wet and do his business. Since Neal always falls down, it means it is hard for him to stay very clean. So this will be good for him. And it will give us all a place to sit out in the shade and enjoy those cool Texas breezes any time during the day.

After the canopy, we will start the plans for our two "sheds." One will be a Texas room and the other will be a cart garage/workshop for Terry.

So we are going to be busy between now and Christmas. Fortunately all our gift buying and wrapping is done and we can concentrate on the new building.

Till next time. . .


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Remember when. . .

Remember when I said if it ever stops raining I will get out and take some pictures? Well, it is STILL raining. Grrrr. We have had a couple days where it cleared up, but not a whole lot of sunshine. Not sure what is going on with the weather, but at least I am glad I am not in the ice and snow. But we are now into setting records for rainfall, so who knows when this will all end.

We did get out one day last week and met with a group of RV.netters at the Paradise Roadhouse to hear 12String Tim and Sharon. They are a performing duo who have thousands of songs in their collection and have lots of props that add to their show. They are very good and our group really loves going to hear them. We didn't stay for the entire show as we had something to get back to the park for, but we will plan to see them again, perhaps several times this winter.

Several of us ended up sick after that outing, so some germ must have thought it had a good opportunity to "spread the joy" around so many unsuspecting Winter Texans. I have been battling what appears to be a sinus infection since then and I am getting better, but it hasn't been pleasant. The cough has been the worse. I cannot seem to lay down without starting to cough.

One of Mom and Dad's friends who lives just two doors down from us died over the weekend. He had bought a bicycle and was out riding. He fell off and hit his head. It's unclear if that is what killed him or if he actually had a stroke, but the result was the same. He actually seemed fine after the accident, but collapsed later and never regained consciousness. He died on Sunday. He and his wife have been in the park about the same time as my parents and they are among the longest residents here. We will miss him.

We have not given up on getting a canopy erected here and getting a building/Texas room built. But the weather has not lended itself to our looking, so we are just waiting until it breaks and we can get out. The best source is to drive around Hidden and Leisure Valley parks where a lot of new construction is going on and make some inquiries. So hopefully we will be seeing some action here later in the season.

I have been finishing up Christmas wrapping and trying to find inside jobs to do while the rain continues. That will have to do until the sun comes out!

Till next time. . .


Friday, December 04, 2009

Weather. . . .

What can I say? If it ever stops raining, I will get outside and take some pictures. We are having winter in Mission, Texas, right now. Forty-two degrees and raining. Yuck. But it could be worse. . . we come down here to get out of the snow and 42 degrees is still warm compared to what we could be experiencing.

We arrived here Sunday, one day ahead of schedule, because there was a winter storm approaching the desert southwest and promised to cover the same territory we planned to be in. I am certainly glad we tuned into the weather site. Some new friends we met in Deming said we got out at the right time because it started turning cold there. We got our coach set up on Sunday but didn't do much else. It got up to 81 and was sunny. Then Monday it got gloomy and rainy, but not too cold. Still didn't do much except visit with Mom and Dad. I got her computer back on line with our air card so she can now follow my blog and stay in contact with other family members.

Tuesday was a cool but nice sunny day, so we got out and put our solar lights in the ground and my other "bling" consisting of garden flags and name signs, etc. Having all the rain on Monday made the ground super soft and a perfect day for getting that done. Knowing how hard the ground gets, I determined correctly that it was an easy job after the rain. And now it has been raining and gloomy once again and promises the same for at least today. But no matter, it is still in the forties, we are safe and snug and keeping plenty warm with our Olympian propane catalytic heater which keep us and Neal nice and warm.

Last night I finished most of my Christmas shopping on line with just one more item to go. That certainly is much easier than past years. I took several hours to do it all, but when I think of going out and driving to the stores, I'm sure I saved a great deal of time--and saved me from the crowds.

Once this weather breaks and I get all my other little jobs done, we will get out and visit some with our Winter Texan friends, so be forewarned!

Till next time. . .