Monday, December 24, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!!!!

I can't believe my poinsettia! I planted "Red" last year when we had to call her "Green." Nothing red on her and she was two years old. I planted her before we left in the spring and she developed some red leaves. When we got back this fall, she was all green with tiny leaves. Maybe I should call her "Red/Green"! I started to water her once a week and she developed some red leaves and they are getting bigger! Red. . . . YOU GO GIRL!!!!!! We have finally found a sofa for the Texas room. That was a real challenge because I needed a short sofa, but bigger than a loveseat. I wanted something that would seat 3 adults, but be no wider than 75 inches. I finally found it! And it is a hide-a-bed as well. Once we take the tree down, I will rearrange it a bit in the room, but the sofa fits perfectly! And I had to include a picture of my Alaska project. That's what I call the trip planning for the Alaska excursion beginning in May, 2013. I'm not really planning. We have roughed out a route, all subject to change, but we do have to plan for our ferries coming back down through the inside passage. What I am doing is just reading the guidebook we are using and highlighting important things. I'm actually almost done with that. I have made a lot of notes on what I need to check on, etc. Earlier today I made the two dishes I will take to the hall for dinner tomorrow. They are in the refrigerator ready to bake. Our dinner is at noon. Mom and I will take time in the morning to make up our relish trays we are taking. A quiet evening tonight will top off our day. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Till next time. . . Dale

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Hidalgo, Festival of Lights

There is the smallish border town of Hidalgo here in the Rio Grande Valley. When the Valley was entering into farming, an irrigation system was needed in order to keep the crops watered.  The Hidalgo Pumphouse tells the unique history of the Rio Grande Valley's development from a semi-desert region to a green and fertile valley, all due to the introduction of irrigation. The pumphouse is now a museum telling the story of how pumps where used to bring water from the Rio Grande into the manmade irrigation ditches to bring life to the desert for growing crops. We will return to Hidalgo to visit the museum sometime and will share our experience.

This little community over the last 22 years has become a big attraction for the Christmas lights and displays they put up starting in October. There are parks, government buildings, etc., which all have displays as well as private residences. We purchased tickets for dinner, a musical show, and a trolley ride to see the lights. The dinner was actually good. It was beef brisket, mashed potatoes, beans, corn, a roll, dessert, and a drink. The entertainment was a local school singing Christmas carols. They were cute, but it seemed as though the children had never sung the songs before. . . nothing past the first verse anyway. After the show, we hopped on the trolley for a tour through the town to see the lights. Our narrator did not know the route or the displays and had trouble reading her lines, continually saying she was just "winging it." Well it showed and we were sorely disappointed in her presentation. The driver of the trolley actually offered more information about the various displays. We were in an enclosed vehicle and the dirty windows did not lend to taking very good pictures. We have been to the festival before and probably saw more by riding around in our car or walking through the parks. But it was an enjoyable evening and at $10 for dinner, entertainment and a trolley ride, it was a good value.

Till next time. . .


Monday, December 17, 2012

Beautiful weather. . .

We like south Texas because of the weather. Florida weather is nice in the winter, too, and a little wetter than Texas. We like Yuma, Arizona, in the winter, too; but it does seem to have sandstorms. And this is where Mom and Dad are, so we here for the winter. The warm weather is so good for Terry because we are able to get out and walk and bike ride. It's been 14 years since his problems started and we are glad we can travel to warm areas so we can stay active. That's very important as we get older.

The days have just been beautiful here. They start out cool, just below 70 degrees then warm up to the 80's. Last week we had some cooler days, but they don't last long. There always seems to be a breeze, so we can sit under our canopy and enjoy ourselves while reading or visiting with the neighbors.

We got word last week that my cousin's wife had passed away suddenly. This is the cousin and wife who live in Houston and helped us when we were there for Terry's cancer treatment. They entertained us with dinner numerous times (gourmet cooks!) and there were normally friends of theirs present so we got to meet new people. They also helped with medical referrals and just general assistance with the way the medical community works which proved invaluable to us.

Her memorial service was last Saturday and Terry and I wanted to go, so we drove up to Houston from the valley on Friday. After her service on Saturday, we visited with Jim and some of Lillian's family before heading back home to Mission. We arrived back at 10:30. We rarely drive after dark anymore. . . not that we have to avoid it, but we do most of our shopping, etc., earlier in the day. But going up to Houston we experienced more traffic than we have in years. Houston was mayhem traffic wise. I don't know how anyone got anywhere to do anything. . . holiday shoppers, etc. What a mess. So once it got dark, traffic coming back started to thin out and it was really an easier trip.

While we were gone, we had another family event. Our son and his lovely wife Megan are expecting their first child. They waited till their late 20's to marry and are very anxious to start their family. We are all excited for them and their new little bundle. It's very early in her pregnancy and on Friday (while we were driving to Houston) she began having pain. She called 911 and once at the hospital, they ended up doing emergency surgery on a "torsed ovary." A better description for us not "medically inclined" is a twisted ovary. It actually was enlarged and flipped over. At some point, there is no "saving" it and unfortunately that was Megan's case. So she went into surgery and they removed the ovary and Fallopian tube. Just before she went in for the procedure, she was able to hear the baby's heartbeat! Course, any surgery on mom at this stage is tricky for them both, but all indications are the baby and Megan are both fine and she is to be discharged today to go recuperate at home. Brandon was able to stay with her at the hospital and he has had some good practice now at playing nurse, so she should recover well in her own home. Brandon is going to be working from home this week so that should work well for them.

It's too bad we are so far away. I did think about hopping on a plane and going to help out. I think I could be a lot of help but I believe Brandon has it covered. I'm sure they will be bringing Jax home from the vet's. He took him in the other day as he was due for his yearly anyway and that way he did not have to worry about taking care of the dog and was able to concentrate totally on Megan.

Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with my cousin as he adjusts to changes in his life. We will hopefully see him again in March when we go for Terry's yearly checkup. We also continue to remember Brandon, Megan, and the new baby! Love to all!

Till next time. . .


Saturday, December 01, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

We have made a lot of progress on the Texas Room the last couple of weeks. The front room and kitchen are totally finished. Closet is finished except for some paint on the baseboard and covering on the shelves. The laundry room closet is about the same. At least we have shelves in there so I can put stuff away. Just finishing up odds and ends.

Today I put up my Christmas tree. I had bought a white one last year at the end of the season. Got a really good price on it and got some ornaments too. I put it up today and put it in the corner of the room. It really looks nice. Mom and Dad came over to see it when I was finished.

I also put a tree up outside. I always admired those all white trees for outside, so I bought one of those last year as well and got it for a really good price.

 We have been riding our bikes every day as well as walking every morning. We put lights on our bikes this year. Since it gets dark at 5:30, we don't have much time to ride after dinner. So with the lights we can ride at night. It has been lovely to ride through the parks and look at the Christmas decorations. It's also nice and cool and breezy after dark. Perfect weather to be out.

Till next time. . .


Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yesterday we went with Mom and Dad to the hall for Thanksgiving Day dinner. It was a great meal. Plenty of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, dressing, and everything else people brought to complement the meal. I took a sweet potato casserole and orzo salad, two of Terry's favorites. Mom took cranberry salad and macaroni and cheese. We had dessert as well. Whew. We were stuffed when we were done.

We relaxed the rest of the day. We both worked on cleaning things up in and around the Texas room. Terry worked on getting the DVD player in the bedroom working and I think he finally did. I know nothing about those things. I wrapped Christmas presents out in the Texas room. I also got some things ordered off Amazon and sent to their destination. We don't do a lot of Christmas shopping anymore, but do most of it on line.

We had been doing a lot of running around picking up final items to finish up the room. Right now it needs baseboards, which are mostly there, but not nailed in. And the closets need to be finished with shelves, etc. We need to trim around the bathtub and shower. I want to put a small cabinet in next to the washer/dryer and then put a counter over it so I have some place to fold clothes. But it is pretty much functional and livable now. We have some furniture in it, but are looking for a sofa yet.

Today we crashed and just relaxed. I put up a Christmas tree in the Texas room. It actually is my outside Christmas tree, but I put it up inside. It is raining here. Surprise! So I didn't put it outside just yet. South Texas really needs rain, so we actually are hoping for a good soaking. The last time we had some rain, you actually could scrape

down through the rocks and see that no water even got past the rocks. My yard is doing well, though. I have cactus planted and they seem to like it hot and dry. Red, my poinsettia from a couple years ago survived the summer down here and is putting out some red leaves. The leaves are much smaller than last year, but no matter. She will be beautiful again.

 Till next time. . . Dale

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Mission, Texas

We arrived on our lot here in Mission, Texas, yesterday about 11:30 a.m. We had awakened early and decided to get moving so we left camp at 6:30. The drive from there was a breeze, not much traffic, a little road construction around Falfurrias and a speed limit that varied at 70-75. Whew! I think that was new. Don't remember 70 mph on 2-lane roads. Phaeton Place was glad when we got here so she could be relieved of that weighted down, packed to the gills, Sport Trac!

The first order of business here is to finish the Texas room. Not a lot to do yet, but finishing takes more time. I think Terry is going to ask our builder John for some help in order to get it done. Until then, I really can't unload too much into the room as I would just have to find a home for it while they are sawing and hammering. Everything in the room is coating with a thin film of dust. I think it is mostly construction dust. I will try to do some cleaning today.

I was finishing uploading pictures and have a few from our trip down from Red Bay on the Natchez Trace. We travel this every year and never get tired of it. I love to drive it. It is relaxing and scenic. We saw a lot of deer and some wild turkey this year.

The first picture is the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. The "Tenn-Tom" was built back in the 70's connecting the Tombigbee and the Tennessee Rivers to make a navigable waterway to the gulf. When we first visited Terry's family after our wedding in 1971, we toured the waterway construction sites and I have pictures of the building process from then.

In April 2011, tornadoes ripped through Mississippi and closed the Trace temporarily until tree debris could be cleared. I have pictures of that. There are other parts of the Trace with older storm damage that you can pick out as you travel the trail.


The lake in the pictures is Ross Barnett Reservoir which is close to Jackson, Mississippi. This lake has a lot of stump fields you can see from the road. There is at least one campground which we have tried to get into before, but it requires reservations well in advance as they allow seasonal camping. Bummer.

We are going to be busy today with cleaning things up and getting Phaeton Place all set up for the next four months. But the weather is great! Mom and Dad were already here and fixed us supper last evening. In other news, I WON AT BINGO LAST NIGHT!
Till next time. . . Dale

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Back in time. . .

Yesterday Gary, Jo, Terry and I left and headed to Baton Rouge. First stop was the waterfront near LSU Stadium, then Cabela's which is just plain fun for all of us. Gary is a charter fishing captain for Lewis and Harp and we use a lot of camping/rv/food items from the store. Terry found himself a new hat and I found some great sandals on sale. SCORE!

Then we were off in search of antebellum mansions to tour and dinner to eat. We found food first and that was at B & C Seafood Market and Cajun Restaurant in Vacherie. What an interesting place. The owners are definitely Cajun, reflected in their speech. One had to listen closely to understand them as it's a lot different from the typical southern drawl. The owner is an alligator hunter and he had several stuffed specimens and photo albums you could peruse. Around the walls in the building were old pictures of various landmarks in the area as well as other points of interest. This is a very interesting part of Louisiana, along the "Old River Road" where antebellum mansions were plentiful due to the Mississippi River being the main means of moving their crops to places worldwide. Most of the plantations we saw yesterday grew/grow sugar cane, while others further north produced more cotton. We had a lively waitress who provided us with great service and our food was very good. After dinner, we browsed through the market which provided all kinds of seafood, turtle and alligator.

The first look at the storied past along the River Road was actually a Jesuit retreat, Manresa House of Retreats instead of an antebellum home. It was quite impressive, however, and we stopped to take a few pictures. We passed several plantations which we will visit another time. There just isn't enough time in one day to see very many. We passed Poche and Laura plantations. We passed numerous other historic houses in various states of disrepair. It is just impossible to maintain all these beautiful old homes and that is sad, but a reality. The historic societies do their best to preserve those that best represent the life and culture of the time. I would think that Louisiana probably has the most antebellum homes, many along River Road and others up north near and around St. Francisville. All within a few hours of each other, so if you want a great look into life back in time, try visiting some of these.

We settled on visiting Oak Alley. What a grand place. It is the quintessential of antebellum homes, built between 1837-1839, and has been restored to its splendor of years past. It actually was lived in and fairly well maintained for all but about 12 years of its history and is now open for tours and bookings and weddings, etc. The furnishings while not original to the families are all period pieces and it looks like someone lives there now. The docents describe the home and the families that lived there while dressed in period costumes. The grounds are well maintained and since this was a working farm, there were a dozen slave cabins to house those people who worked the land. They are in the process of rebuilding those cabins and two are done, but they were not open to visitation. We enjoyed the tour and especially looking down the "oak alley," the live oak trees planted nearly 300 years ago which frame the lane from the Mississippi River to the front door. The view is magnificent, but with the levee at the river's edge, it is impossible to see the river from the home. You can see the tops of some ships passing by, but the river view is gone. That is not totally a bad thing, however, because without it, the home would be in danger of damage from floods.

On our way back to Zachary, we passed by Nottaway Plantation (1859) and as we drove around it, we saw a wedding in progress! What a lovely place for a wedding. Jo and I decided it is on our list for the next time we come to visit! We also passed by a large cemetery. Cemeteries are very different down here than what we see up north.

It was a great day with great cousins and fun activities. Today we are leaving and will be heading to Texas with a mandatory pitstop at Kinder and the Coushatta Casino. Woot!

Till next time. . .