Monday, March 28, 2011

Banner Day for Terry!!!!!!!


Today is the day. Today Terry "GONGED OUT" of the Proton Therapy Center at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. His treatment for prostate cancer is complete. We have been here since December 27, 2010.

We have enjoyed Houston, but I hesitate to call it the "radiation vacation" as some of the wives refer to it. There is nothing about vacation and cancer that belongs in the same sentence. The reason they say this is because the proton beam radiation has fewer side effects than any of the other treatments for prostate cancer and boasts about the same results. It is a bit of a daily ordeal for the men involved, but it is one treatment that does not make you sick or cause you many of the side effects while promising to stop the cancer growth. A lot of the patients and their wives use the free time between treatments to explore Houston and eat out. We have done that, taking in the rodeo, the BBQ cookoff, the flea markets, the beaches down at Galveston and the Kemah Boardwalk. We have also joined Terry's college roommate for a tour of the Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham, famous for Blue Bell ice cream. We also have spent some quality time with my cousin and his wife, being fed luscious meals and meeting many of their friends. We have made friends at the campground, many who are cancer patients. We certainly have not been bored and have enjoyed ourselves. But there is some fatigue with the treatments and lately an afternoon nap has been the rule. Some men are here by themselves, their wives work or some choose not to come. I cannot imagine making Terry face something like this by himself. We have fared better than some, however, because we are "at home" every night. Even though our home is in Houston right now, we still go home to our bed, our recliners, etc., every night. Ah, another perk of the full-time lifestyle.

So tomorrow we say goodbye to Houston. We are headed to the Rio Grande Valley for a few days. My Dad just had knee surgery this morning and we are going down to see him and Mom. We have a lot there with a canopy, so we can stay in the shade instead of broasting in the 100*+ weather. We are staying till the weekend, then heading to Indiana for our normal round of spring doctor appointments. Will the fun never end? Haha.

Till next time. . .

Dale

Ever wonder how they do that??????

Here is how Google maps gets their information. Perhaps they were mapping the location of the Minute Maid Stadium in downtown Houston.







Wednesday, March 23, 2011

An unusual treat!!!!!

We got new neighbors today and Terry helped the guy get his television cable working. He had a broken end on it and Terry changed it out for him. It still didn't work and so a little digging around found another problem that Terry fixed. So now they have television. It's always nice to lend a hand to fellow campers who need some help.

Tonight was a beautiful evening and we were sitting out under the awning reading. Across from us is an Indian man (from the country India) and we have exchanged greetings over the course of the past several weeks. He works nights, so we never have much time to chat. I have on occasion seen him carrying a sitar to his car, and I have been curious about that. Tonight he came over and introduced himself to us. He was trained as a nuclear scientist in his native India and worked for his government traveling all over the world. He speaks 18 1/2 languages. He came to the U.S. in pursuit of the American Dream but found that he could not be employed in his field because the U.S. would not accept his degree from his homeland. So he got a job with the University of Texas Police Department and he has been there for 26 years. He is actually on the job at the Proton Therapy Center where Terry goes for treatments, but he is on the nightshift.

I finally asked him about his sitar. He has been playing for 52 years. AND, he said, "I will play for you." He went and got his "stage," which was his carpet, and then brought his sitar. It is a rather large instrument made from a special type of gourd grown in India. His is elaborately carved and has frets like a guitar, but the ones on the sitar are very different. There are 23 strings on the sitar, but he said you really only play 3 at the most and primarily one. The other strings are used for resonance. He strummed it with his right hand like a guitar with a special pick that was a wire which he wore on the end of his finger. The left hand would work the wire and in one song he played, it appeared that he made chords. Other times, he worked that one wire. He played scales for us and it appeared that all 23 strings would do scales. He is a remarkable musician and he said he is the only sitar player in Texas. He gives lessons on the weekend here in Houston. I was mesmerized by his talent and the sing-song of the sitar. I like most any instrument and especially strings. But I admire talent more and he was very good. I am excited that we had a chance to hear him play and admire the music of a foreign land.

Till next time. . .

Dale

Here is a little music clip. It is actually a movie, but it was dark out and I don't have a movie camera. But the important part is the music.
video

Monday, March 21, 2011

Galveston, oh Galveston. . .

Last weekend we were looking for something different to do, so we decided to drive down to Galveston. It's been years since we had been there and pre-Hurricane Ike which did considerable damage to the island community.

There were signs of the hurricane, but we had been told that "nothing's there anymore" and "only one or two restaurants open." Wow. What lies! Or perhaps just misinformation. There were not a lot of people there, but that is okay with us because we don't typically like crowds.

While driving in and crossing the bridge into Galveston, nothing really looked destroyed. In fact, there was evidence of buildings abandoned or in some state of disrepair and a few tarps here and there. But if you didn't know a hurricane had visited, you would not have suspected it. We past by a couple beautiful homes, including the Moody Mansion. We found the Strand, the shopping district as old as the city and found a good place to park. We walked up and down the street stopping in the various shops and enjoying mild weather and sunshine. We looked for the Jamacian restaurant we had eaten at before, but it is no longer there. It was a great place with a lot of atmosphere, but there was still a good selection of restaurants. The area was clean and even though the buildings are old, they appear to be maintained and evidence of hurricane damage was not easily visible.

That was not the rule out on Seawall Drive, however. I don't mean to say that Seawall Drive was trashy--it was not. But one could see areas where buildings once stood and other areas in various stages of debris removal. There is no doubt that the city has worked long and hard at cleaning up and renovating what could be salvaged. We drove most of the length of the Seawall Drive and found a place to pull out onto the beach. We parked and walked out to the water. This was the most disappointing. You surely remember the oil rig disaster of last year. Well, that continues to affect the beaches here. The water looked terrible, it was very rough and choppy with large waves. The water was dark and oily; and as we walked on the sand, the black streaks confirmed that it was oil and not just dirt churned up by the rough water. There were hundreds of people in the water, which had to be cold. I am surprised they were allowed in it, but I guess there is no stopping spring breakers. I would not have let my family into that oily mess. A couple homes we saw appeared to be too close to the water. These homes have been condemned since the hurricane and will be demolished. They actually were further up on the land, but the storm has changed the beach and brought the water closer to the road.

We drove back up the Seawall Drive and saw the famous statue arising from the sand over the seawall. Traffic was heavy and I didn't see it in time to snap a picture, so I will provide a link to it. It was placed in memory of the many lives lost during the 1900 hurricane.

We stopped at Gaido's, an old established restaurant on the ocean. We had great food and a great time. When we left there we continued down the road. We saw a hotel that was built out on a pier and it was partially destroyed by Ike. This hotel has been in the news recently because apparently the demolition crew has been dropping large chunks of concrete and debris in the water which has created hazards for people. They were working on it as we drove by and they have large nets up now to catch debris. They are going to completely remove the hotel and the pier will revert back to a fishing/observation pier.

We had an enjoyable day and were glad to know that Galveston is alive and well and continuing its recovery efforts.

Till next time. . .

Dale

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Rodeo, part II

Well I decided to do the rodeo in a couple posts. There is a lot to see and even though we don't take in the entire grounds and activities, we still enjoy the venue and the excitement that abounds in the area.

We have eaten in the food area. This is a huge area with tents and the food vendors are all in these large tents with picnic tables down one side. We have seen it quite full and fairly empty at other times. There is just about anything available to eat from crawfish, shrimp, BBQ, smoked turkey legs, etc., and lots of difference sides. There are Cajun food vendors as well as standard fair. There were some outside vendors as well. Several Dippin' Dots vendors. . . that must be a big hit in the area.

The grounds include the old Houston Astrodome, which is just there, but not actually used in any of the activities. That seems a real shame to me. I guess it has outlived its usefulness and now would cost too much money to fix up for use again. I would love to see inside. There is also the Reliant Stadium where all the big name entertainment performs, and the Reliant Center where all the vendors are. Also the Reliant Arena is where all the rodeo events are held.

In the area around all of these massive buildings are numerous metal sculptures. They represent the cowboy way of life. Many are of horses and many are of cattle and cattle drives, depicting moments from history.

This has been a big event for Houston. I am sure preparations are underway for next year's event. A production this large would have to be planned more than a year in advance. It has something for everyone and no one who attends even a portion would be disappointed.

Till next time. . .

Dale

I know, I know. . . .

I haven't been very good at keeping up the blog lately. We have been having a lot of fun here in Houston, considering why we are here. We have managed to work around Terry's treatments and get out and enjoy the area. It turns out we will leave here not doing everything there is to do, but no matter. We will be back here every year from now on as Terry returns for checkups. Since we have our place in the valley and always go through Houston anyway, that's not going to be a problem or even be out of the way.

The rodeo is still going on. It actually starts with behind the scenes activities for a couple weeks before it really starts. And once it starts, it goes for one day shy of three weeks. Wow. I have discovered that it is a combined effort of many different groups including FFA, 4-H and various rodeo associations as well as others. It is huge. I think one of the reasons it is so big is because they rotate animals and exhibits as the time rolls on.

We have spent two Wednesdays there. Wednesday is SENIOR CITIZEN DAY. Unfortunately (or you could say fortunately) we are now qualified and have take advantage of the $5 parking and free admission. The freebie doesn't include the rodeo proper, but I have no desire to watch that. They tell me that no animals get hurt in those activities, but I'm not convinced. We do enjoy walking around and looking at all the animals who are penned up and attended to by their owners. They are standing and laying down or munching, all in air conditioned comfort! There is also a nursery section where pregnant animals give birth under the watchful eye of veterinarians' assistants. Most of the births occur in the wee morning hours, so we get to see the newborns later. In one area, they have animals in a barn with information about the breeds, particularly animals that are found in Texas, like this longhorn. They are a gentle breed, able to go for long periods without water or food and can forage successfully on their own. I asked this handsome boy to smile for the camera.

We mostly walk around the vendor areas and buy stuff. Hey, why not. The first week I bought a tooled leather purse and last week I bought a pair of cowgirl boots. They aren't the pointy-toe type. I don't care for those. Surprisingly, did you know that boots are built for comfort? I did not know that. I figured they would really be uncomfortable, but no. They are made with more built-in support than your tennies and careful shopping can net you a pair of "Ayriat Fat Babys" which are wider, with rounded toes and crepe soles. So, under the close tutelege of my friend Pat (who owns a pair), I am now the proud owner/wearer of such a pair.

However, my boots don't match my new purse. (horrors) Does that mean a trip back is in my schedule for today?

One of the vendors displayed his works outside. He had large rocks that where engraved and some were used as wine racks, some as flagpoles, some as firepits, etc. There were beautiful, but I'm convinced they are not appropriate for carrying in the motorhome. Hah!

We also spent some time listening to the chuckwagon entertainment. These guys told a few jokes and sang some traditional cowboy tunes that were common out on the range while gathered around the chuckwagon. We thought we were going to hear some cowboy poetry, but that didn't happen. But the music and the jokes were great anyway!

The second time we went we took our friends Mike and Pat. Pat is a breast cancer survivor going through chemo treatment. They enjoy getting out and going when she feels well enough which is most of the time. She has had three treatments and has three more to go. Her next one is Friday and we are going to doggie sit for Pebbles, the little dog about whom I blogged arlier. They never know if they are going to be late from her chemo sessions, so we will take charge and they won't have to worry about her. Pat and Mike are leaving then on Monday. She is flying back to New York to their daughter's for recovery and remaining treatments and Mike is headed to the Grand Canyon National Park where he works as a shuttle bus driver. We are going to miss them but only wish them the best. We will stay in touch as her treatment progresses.

Yep, I think we are headed back to the rodeo today for Terry to get a belt and me a new purse! Yay! Might take in the butterfly house too.

Till next time. . .

Dale

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Blue Bell Creameries

Last week, Terry's college roommate, Dave and his friend Kirk, took us to Brenham, Texas, to the Blue Bell Creameries. Blue Bell ice cream is the number 3 selling ice cream in the United States and I think they only distribute to 17 states. It was a great drive out of Houston to the northwest, taking over an hour to get there.

We arrived at the creamery and signed up for the next tour. We could not take any pictures, so you won't get to see any secrets, but we had a nice tour guide and got to see them making several different flavors of ice cream. In addition to the ice cream, Blue Bell makes a lot of ice cream novelties as well, including a bomb-pop style fudgesicle and a variety of fruit bars that I will have to try.

When we left there, Dave drove us around the area to see the countryside. This area, just an hour or so outside of Houston, has none of the big city glare to it. Brenham is a small little western town with lots of antique stores and restaurants. Across the road from one of the stores we visited was a town square that had antique fire equipment. One housed two fire engines of the motorized type and the other had one of the first horse drawn steam fire engines in it. It was all glassed in and the sun was shining so it was hard to get a good picture, but you get the general idea. We visited several of the antique stores because Dave and Kirk really like them. Before we left the area, we stopped at a steakhouse and had dinner. It was great to sit and visit and we really enjoyed our time.

Till next time. . .

Dale