Monday, December 24, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012 Christmas Eve

Awaiting Baby Jesus at Basilica San Juan
Don and I drove  9 hours from Orlando to Buloxi Mississippi and stayed at a Casino Hotel there for the night. After a nice Senior buffett breakfast at a nearby Casino, we drove another 9 hours to SanAntonio, Texas and stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn - enjoyed the manager's special dinner and nice breakfast. Mary investigated the evening Riverwalk Lights - chilly night since a cold front (from Canada of Course) came through that afternoon.
Tuesday, December 12/12
After a hearty breakfast at the hotel we drove the 4 hours to Trophy Gardens in Alamo and set up for our winter stay.
Since we have been here, Mary has been teaching her exercise class for 3 monings, Don is back playing Masters Slow Pitch in McAllen in the competitive league, we bike and golf and swam etc.
Mary went to see "Beauty and the Beast" play at the Sharyland High School in Mission, donated blood, cleaned the trailer outside and inside and set-up an awning.
Tonight we will go to the Candlelight Christmas Service in the Clubhouse and tomorrow we will join lots of other folks here for our Christmas lunch in the Clubhouse. Merry Christmas to all.
Friday, December 7, 2012  Katie's Birthday - Magic Kingdom - Disney, Orlando Florida
Got up early to make it to the front gates of Magic Kingdom before opening to see the Disney Characters arrive  on the Train. Katie got her Birthday Button at the Town Hall and all day the staff wished her "Happy Birthday" which she loved. On entering the Magic Kingdom, we hurried off to Fantasyland, which had just opened some new attractions and we visited the "Beauty and the Beast" area, then on to "It's a Small World", a 3 D show and more rides. We dined outside the Sky Cafe for lunch, Jacob fell asleep on the peoplemover ride in Tomorrowland and Hannah enjoyed a nap at the same time while Diana, Tom and Katie snuck off to Space Mountain and Oma minded the sleeping children. A picture with Santa was tried but Jacob doesn't seem to like Santa yet. But he did like some other Disney characters.
We lasted all day until 7PM with our last stop at the Child Care Center to feed the kiddies and got a beautiful Disney balloon on the way out for Jacob. Opa Don opted out of the Disney adventure and spent the day back at the Resort.
In our stay in Orlando area we also visited Disney Downtown for some shopping and an evening stop at the Disney town of Celebration - which had hourly snow falls - from soap blowers on the lampposts.
Don and I left Orlando on Sunday morning and Tom, Diana, Katie, Jacob and Hannah moved accommodation to a fancy resort hotel beside Universal Studios where Tom will be attending a conference from Monday to Friday and then flying home to Virginia. They did Universal Studios for a few days and then Diana and Katie drove back with the kiddies to Chesapeake on Tuesday. Katie stayed in Chesapeake until that Sunday and then flew home to Buffalo and drove back into Canada.

update to Florida

Monday, December 3, 2012
Crab Trap Xmas Tree in Duck
Now located at Summer Bay Resort in Orlando Florida
Don and I survived our Dr Oz 3 day detox/cleanse and enjoyed the rest of last week in Duck NC. Diana visited with Jacob and Hannah on Friday, Nov 30 - her birthday. We visited Duck Donuts, had lunch at The Blue Point and went swimming with the kiddies in the big resort pool.
Diana and Jacob @ Busch Gardens
Saturday morning we packed up and drove back to Chesapeake. Katie arrived at Tom and Diana's last night. Saturday afternoon, all of us but Don went to see the beautiful Christmas light displays at Busch Gardens. We stayed till after dark and then returned home to get packed for our Orlando trip on Sunday.
Sunday was a 12 hour drive to warmer weather  - destination of Summer Bay Resort in Orlando Florida. We rented a 2 bedroom unit that is on the 4th floor of one of their buildings. It is a lovely place with lots of pools and things to do. Tom and Diana and kids will join us here on Wednesday to do Disney and Universal Studios later in the week.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Saturday, November 24, 2012
Photographer session at 8 AM on the home turf and it all worked out better. Christmas card worthy.
Ate more turkey, pumpkin and the TV played more Football games but the kids are fun to be with. Hannah hums and smiles and is rolling all over. Jacob keeps busy and can work an iphone better than I will ever - and he is 18 months old. At night we watched the TV documentary on "The Dust Bowl".

Sunday, November 25, 2012  (Our 34th wedding anniversary)
Poor Jacob and Tom are not up to top form today - darn cold. Don and I moved on down the road to Duck, NC - only an hour away. We checked into Barrier Island Station - reserved through a certificate from Sky Auction a few months ago. We have a lovely 3 bedroom unit on the top (3rd) floor with a view of the ocean. This resort is showing it's age but is nice and quiet since it is off season and has a nice indoor pool and access to the beach. The picture above is taken from our balcony.

Monday, November 26, 2012    Duck NC
Quiet day at the resort. Don and I started a 3 day Dr Oz Detox Cleanse - just blender drinks of fruits and vegetables. We went for a lovely walk on the beach - not a cloud in the sky. Picked up some nice shells. I did the 45 minute water exercise class in the recreation centre. After lunch we walked into Duck to explore. It is a pretty little tourist town that has a 3/4 mile boardwalk on the inland waterway side. They have a crab trap Christmas tree that is supposed to be lighted on the weekend.
Thursday, November 22, 2012
Thanksgiving Day
Had a lovely day with the Chesapeake Marsdens. Some neighbours had an outdoor funnel cake party at 11 AM and we had our delicious turkey dinner around 2:30 with the Pugh family from next door. I made some pumpkin pies from the farm picked Halloween pumpkin.

Friday, November 23, 2012  Black Friday
Today we went to Virginia Beach to meet a photographer for shots of the family on the beach. It was a nice day but there was some wind on the beach and the kids weren't too happy there. Jacob did notice that walking in sand is a bit different.
Tom was happy to get an online purchase for a 60 inch TV from the Black Friday Sale from Amazon though.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Left Lakefield around 9 AM headed for the night in Scranton, Penn. Great day to travel with a stop at Duty Free @ the 1000 Island Bridge. They were having a special day of sampling and you got to spin a wheel at the checkout that gave discounts. Don got 10% off Tom's beer request and I luckily got 75% off my $20 chocolate purchase for Diana. Checked in to the Residence Inn (Marriott) by 4 PM. Spent a little time in the evening at the big mall next door. There was a Best Buy and it already had a few people stationed outside awaiting Black Friday specials?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012
After a lovely breakfast at the Inn, we drove off for Chesapeake, Virginia by way of the coast and sea tunnels to avoid Washington on this busy travel day before Thanksgiving. Another great weather travel day. Arrived at Tom and Diana's by 5 PM. Don and Tom took off at 6 PM for a AHL hockey game between Norfolk and Charlotte. I got to enjoy little Hannah and Jacob and unload the cargo we brought down to them.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

New York City Trip

NEW YORK CITY trip   October 17 to 23 2012.

Hello from the Laguadia Plaza Hotel   Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Southwest Flight
So they offered to send us to Chicago on an earlier flight today since our plane was delayed from Orlando and we would probably miss our connection in Baltimore. So we were on 2 full planes today - at the back - not together - but we got here at 5:30  - rather than a 7:45 flight out of Baltimore. We got a shuttle over to this hotel and now we are going to scout out some dinner. We would have sent a note from Chicago but we could not get an Internet connection.

Thursday, October 18/12
Empire State Bldg
Rockefeller Square
Arrived at our apartment right on time at 5 Pm and the lady was right
here and we got settled. We picked up some wine on the way to the
apartment and now having a much needed drink.
So this is what we did today:
Got up at 6 am and took the 7 am shuttle to the subway and got
squished to Manhattan and got off at Grand Central Terminal where we
had breakfast.
On to the Empire State bldg and did the audio tour with our Citypass.
On to NYC Library, Chrysler bldg, United Nations, St Patrick's
Cathedral, Radio City Music Hall, lunch, Rockefeller Square, Times
Square (saw the Nasdac window) and got half price tickets for a play
tonight - The Heiress.
Then we picked  our carry on bags at a storage place and strolled to
our apt on 21st street and my feet are very tired and sore.
Having some wine and we will be off for the theatre at 8 Pm. Going

through lots of money!
View to Ground Zero
Friday, October 20/12
Wow - I can't believe we got on. We were very tired and hungry after a
day of museums. We started off this morning around 9 am. We had
breakfast at the apt cause we picked up some groceries last night
around the corner from here. The Museum of Natural History didn't open
till 10 so we had time to check out "the Dakota" - the residence of
John Lennon - where he was shot - it is across from Central Park's
Strawberry Fields. So back to the museum for 3 hours - it is an
amazing place and we took a 90 minute tour with George -  retired
English teacher. We only had juice and a granola bar for lunch cause
all the museum food places were crammed. It was a rainy day so museums
were the place to go.
Then we crossed over Central Park to Art Museum and saw the highlights
there for and hour or so - a Brunini exhibit, a Andy Warhol Exhibit  -
not a fan, and the Egyptian area. Both museums are monster big and
busy. They were part of our Citypass package which seems to be working
out very well and we don't have to stand in lines.
From there we went back to Times Square and purchased our same day
half price show tickets, beat it down to the Nasdaq corner and left
there around 5:25 to go to dinner off Broadway in a little French
Restaurant  - really good. then to see an off Broadway play called
"The Fantastiks" which was okay but not sensational. Then Subway home.
We bought a 7 day subway pass for $29 on our way in to Manhattan and
that seems to be paying off cause we were on it 3 times today and 2
times yesterday.
Tomorrow to Wall Street and Ground Zero etc.
That is the report for today. NYC is crowded and it doesn't seem like
the city sleeps  - the streets are crowded and the traffic is crazy.

Saturday,  October 19/12
So this is what we did today in Manhattan:
We started out a little after 9 am for the HighLine walkway - a raised
walkway that used to be a raised railway line to downtown Manhattan
and the meat packing area there.
We got off at the Chelsea Market  - are make of the old Nabisco
factory into shops.
From there we walked over to Washington Square - saw the Arch and the
Mews and the expensive town homes there.
Back on our way with the subway to 9/11 Memorial. We saw ground Zero
and when through St Paul's Chapel across the way that was not damaged
when the towers collapsed.
On to Wall Street and the Bull Statue which was surrounded by many
police officers who were waiting for a protest group moving down Wall
We went over to the Staten Island Ferry and took a free round trip for
the next hour - it was a beautiful sunny day to cruise the harbor and
pass by the Statue of Liberty.
From there we strolled uptown - by the Courthouses, Chinatown, Little
Italy, New York University.
We stopped for a lovely dinner at "the Outback" and made it back to
the apartment by 5:30  - tired again. No Broadway show tickets tonight
- thought we would leave the tickets for the crowds at Times Square.

Central Park
Ellis Island Immigration Museum
Just to let you know we have kept
Susan in Central Park
ourselves busy on Sunday and Monday.
So on Sunday:
We started out on the subway around 9 am and headed down to Battery
Park to catch a ferry over to The Statue of Liberty - long lines but
we hung in there and made it over. It was a bright sunny day so very
pleasant to be outside. We took the 30 minute audio tour and learned a
few things - the thickness of the copper is than of thickness of 2
pennies which is covering a scaffold similar to the structure of the
Eiffel Tower - because it is a precursor of the Eiffel Tower from the
same designer. It took 20 years for the copper to turn its green
color. The tour just goes around the base of the Statue - no climbing
up at this time but that is coming soon.
From there it was back on the ferry over to Ellis Island and learn
about immigration through the port of New York from the late 1800s to
the 1950s. Sometimes it was 12000 people in a day in the 1920s. That
was a 45 minute audio tour going through the registration process the
new immigrants went through at that time.
Back on the ferry to Manhattan, had a late lunch at Whole Foods on
Houston Avenue - interesting check out lineups. On to Orchard Street
for bargain shopping and Susan bought a lovely lamb skin leather
backpack purse for $30. Then back on the subway to Times Square and
picked up some half price Chicago the Musical tickets (still $75 each)
for tonight's 7 pm show. Subway back to the apartment for a snack and
wine before the show. The show was really good - in the old Ambassador
Monday: Packed up and said bye to the apt and subwayed up to the luggage
storage place on 46 th st. Walked over the Top of the Rock tour at
Rockefeller Square. It had indoor and outdoor decks 70 stories up the
GE tower. Great views on another beautiful sunny day.
Onward to the museum of Modern Art - saw a Picaso and a few Monet
paintings but the rest didn't impress Susan or I so we didn't stay
there too long. That was our last coupon on our CityPass so we think
we got or $89 worth since most of the 6 stops were $25 entrance fee.
Then we strolled along the big stores on Fifth Avenue like Bergman and
Saks. We took 59 th street over to Bloomingdale's and had a lovely
lunch on the 7 th floor at their "forty carrots" restaurant. For there
we subwayed north to check our some upscale charity thrift shops on
the Upper East Side. Susan got sidetracked at Radio Shack and bought
herself an iPad2 for $400.
The thrift shops were way overpriced - no shed bargain prices.
We subwayed back to a bicycle shop on 46 th street and picked up bikes
to do Central Park for a few hours -which we did from 3:30 to 5:30
busy place but we made it around the whole park. We booked the bikes
on line yesterday so the rate for the 2 hours was $14  - half price
from regular.
Then we enjoyed a Brazilian dinner in a restaurant close to our luggage place.
We retrieved our luggage and subwayed and bussed into Queens to return
to the hotel we stayed in the first night in NYC  - close to LaGuardia
Airport for our flight tomorrow at 11:10 AM.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

March and April 2012 Summary
We have been back home in Lakefield as of Tuesday, April 10/12, so there is a gap in this blog for March and the beginning of April that I will attempt to summarize.
From February 28 to March 12, I was in Chesapeake, Virginia. I had the pleasure of looking after our first grandchild, Jacob (9 months old) for a week while our son Tom and his wife Diana spent a well deserved vacation in Mexico. Here is a picture with Tom and Diana with Jacob and this is what Diana wrote on her Facebook page on March 26/12. "
Forever in our arms, Jacob William David! With full hearts we are proud to announce the adoption of our son, born in Virginia, on May 30, 2011. Welcome Home Jake! We are also happy to share that our “forever family” continues to grow through the gift of adoption. We are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Jake’s baby sister, due June 3. Please continue to keep our family and our children’s very special birthmother in your thoughts and prayers – all our love, the Marsdens!
Jacob is a happy little guy - even with a cold (which I picked up from him too - although the pediatrician said it was only teething), his pleasant personality shined. We even got to go to the beach together.
Katie joined me in Virginia since she was on school break and we looked after Jacob together. We didn't spoil him too much? Tom and Diana returned from Mexico and on my last night in Virginia, Tom treated me to a St Patrick's Celebration Concert featuring "The Chieftains" at the Sandler Ctr in Virginia Beach.
Don stayed back in Texas and went through a bit of a cool spell there but enjoyed his slow pitch playoffs and the final banquets too. He wants to play next winter again.
When I returned to Texas, we move the trailer 3 parking spots to a lot with more concrete and acquired a 6 x 8 foot shed with a washer and dryer from Don and Maureen since they sold their 5th wheel trailer and bought a park model trailer - very nice.
I attended Winter Texan Appreciation Day in Progresso Mexico on March 21 with Barb, Sue and Howard, Bev and Mike - bought cinnamon and vanilla. Barb and Lance, Sue and Howard and I bike on the Colonel Rowe Bike Trail in McAllen. We enjoyed our last days with our Texan friends - biking, golfing, swimming and then packed up for a long drive home - with multiple stops along the way. We left on Tuesday, March 27th and stayed that night at Springhill Suites by Marriott in Lake Charles, LA. ( Tom graciously used his Marriott points for our hotel stays on the way home - we were spoiled). On the Wednesday, we arrived in New Orleans and stayed that night in the JW Marriott on Canal Street. I toured the French Quarter in the afternoon and Don and I had dinner on the 27th Floor Executive Lounge in the Marriott. After dinner we attended a Jazz Concert in "Preservation Hall" - around the corner from the famous "Bourbon Street". New Orleans was getting very busy because "The Final Four" basketball teams were competing there that weekend and many fans and teams had already arrived. (No one asked me "How tall are You?" there.) Friday morning, I took the St Charles streetcar to the Garden District and did a walking tour there which included a cemetary tour too. We left at noon and travelled to Tallahassee Florida and stayed the night at TownePlace Suites by Marriott. On Saturday, after encountering many rain showers, we arrived in Pinellas Park and stayed 2 nights with Thery and Brian King. We enjoyed April Fools, walks, Seaside Grill and line dancing there. On Monday, April 2 we drove across Florida to South Palm Beach to spend 2 nights with Richard and Barb Croft in a beautiful waterfront condo they rented for the winter. This is a very rich area - passed by Donald Trump's home there a few times. We had delicious meals - first night a barbecue at Steve's beautiful home on the water and the second night at a very fancy Grill Restaurant. On April 4th we drove up the coast and stayed the night outside St Augustine, Florida at the Renaissance Hotel in a Golf Resort. I took the shuttle into St Augustine and did walking tours of this historical old town.
Our last night in a hotel was spent at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott in Fayetteville, NC. We arrived at Tom and Diana's on Good Friday and enjoyed Easter weekend with them. On that Saturday, there was a baby shower for Diana - for Jacob and Hannah - put on by Katherine and Bridgette - good friends in their neighbourhood. Monday morning we left for the long drive to Canada and arrived in Waterloo to spend the night with my sister Dorothy and brother-in-law Ed. On Tuesday we travelled through Toronto and had a lovely lunch with Don's parents and made it home to Lakefield by 3 PM in our packed full little Subaru Impreza.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Just to catch up on our weekend activities before the month is over. On Friday, Feb 24, Brenda and I went to the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show at the McAllen Convention Centre. Neither one of us are quilters - just quilting admirers. So we didn't have to spend all our money on material and patterns. It was a rainy day so we had a nice lunch at Mimi's Cafe and then stopped to shop at Steinmarts too.
On Saturday morning, Ron and Judy, Don and I went to a Blini and Piroghie Brunch at St George Orthodox Church in Pharr. Blinis are crepes that we filled with different jams - even Nutella. There was expensive Russian tea to drink too. We all chose blinis so the piroghies were untried.
On Sunday our street - Masters Drive had their block party. It was held on Lot 595 - which is the lot we are moving to next season - it has more concrete than the lot we are on now. We already moved a shed that houses a washer and dryer onto that lot. It was a pot luck celebration and there seem to be alot of great cooks on this block.
I had to sneak away from these festivities to attend a play at the South Texas College Theatre. It was "The Man Who Came To Dinner" and it was very well done. It was a comedy about a dinner guest who just won't go away.
This coming week Don is in Slow Pitch Playoffs.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Haven't blogged for awhile because the weather has improved and couldn't stay inside when it is beautiful outside. So I have to mention the highlights for the past 10 days.
On Wednesday, Feb 15/12 about 30 TG Bike Club members participated in the McAllen Golden Years Bike and Birding Event at Bentsen State Park (about 30 minutes away by car). We traillered the bikes there and then rode around the park. We saw kisadees, red shouldered hawks, greenjays and altamira orioles, plus 3 milk snakes sunning themselves in a creek.
Don got to go to another Killer Bee Game but unfortunately the bees lost that night. I didn't get to this one since I had Cuddle Club at the hospital that night. Feb 18.
I attended the Pioneer and Ranching Craft Day at the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg on Feb 18. There was entertainment and demonstrations and lots of Winter Texans there because it was a nice day even though the weatherman said we were to get 50 mph winds - which luckily did not happen.
On Feb 21, we had a spagetti dinner and casino night at our recreation hall. The local Shriners come out to do this as a fundraiser. You try to win as much play money as you can by playing BlackJack for a few hours and then there is a auction so you can spend the money you collected. Don and I won the auction of a blanket.
Don will be playing his slowpitch playoffs next week. It will be a challenge because this teams are the lowest in the standings.
I participated in the Canada/US Golf Tournament on our little Golf Course and Canada won the tourney by one stroke. Here is a picture of the cabbage field that is right beside our little golf course.
I will throw in this other picture I took in the window of a hispanic grocery store recently.
The big news around here is Cousin Don and Maureen bought a Park Model home from another RV Park and will have it moved over to this park on March 1. They sold their 5th wheel trailer already to another couple here in our park. This change required more concrete on their park site so the park model can be parked here. Don and I purchased the small storage shed with a washer and dryer from Don and Maureen since they will have another one from the park model they bought. No more weekly trips to the community laundry machines in the park for us.
We do keep busy with dinner at friends and last Sunday, Brenda and Rick hosted a party for 3 guys (Rick, Brian and Cousin Don) who all are celebrating their 60th birthdays!
Today I participated in an in-park Arts and Crafts Display in our Recreation Hall. I built some of my glass pole toppers from glass objects I picked up at local thrift stores. I did not plan on doing my glassware down here but I couldn't stop myself. I did make 2 redneck wine glasses too and showed 2 Powertex masks. I sold 6 Pole toppers today and have one for myself and I will try and restrain myself from making anymore. There were lots of beautiful paintings, nature pictures, quilts, woodworking, stained glass, swedish weaving and yarn crafts on display.
Almost forgot to mention that Don and I visited our friends Janet and Harold Baal who are spending the month of February at Americana RV Park in the Rio Grande Valley. They travel with their pretty dog Buddy.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sunday, February 12/12
Well it has been a cool rainy week in South Texas - not what we had signed on for but we can't complain about the rain because of the drought that Texas has experienced in the past year.
We have kept ourselves busy by shopping, going to see the movie "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" with Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and a young boy actor who had a difficult role that he did very well. It was $5 Movie Monday.
Don only got to play ball on Monday and Tuesday mornings - Wednesday and Thursday were rained out but he did go to Umpire School from 9 to 4 on Saturday.
We checked out a few Thrift stores and I could not resist the urge to pick up some glassware to make a few pole toppers - that will perch on top of sawed off golf clubs - since there are no cross country ski poles here to be had.
On Friday night, Bonnie and John, Brenda and Rick, Maureeen and I went to a local theatre group's production of "The River is Gold" - a bit painful but luckily it was short.
Saturday morning, Brenda, Bonnie, Maureen, Gail and I went to the Mennonite Relief Sale at the Rio Grande Bible Institute in Edinburg. They had rummage sale stuff, games for kids, breakfast and baked goods and a quilt auction. We got bidding #s for the auction but the one I would have liked went for the most money - $1300. There were a couple others that went for over $700 each but the rest were alot less - for good reasons.
Saturday night Don and I went out to dinner at the Olive Garden in McAllen - treated by our old friend Bill Barone from Michigan - aka "The Fishing Fool". Bill was on an avoiding winter driving tour and had been through Atlanta - Florida - now through Texas - and on to Arizona and California and will get back to Michigan when the snow is gone. We took him on a walk through the Santa Anna Wildlife Refuge on Friday afternoon - a bit of a mistake because the pathways were wet and the Texas mud sticks like glue to your shoes - it was like walking in heavy high heels. The highlight was seeing a 7 foot long black snake on the roadway there.
Sunday morning we attended our Community Hall Church Service - it was Flag Sunday and Don and I got to parade with the Ontario Flag. Sunday afternoon, Bonnie and John, Brenda and Rick, Maureen and I went to a McAllen High School (Nikki Rowe) and enjoyed 3 talented students perform the Neil Simon comedy play of "The Star Spangled Girl".

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tuesday, Feb 7/12
Time to catch up again on what we have been doing down here in Texas.
On Jan 31/12, I attended an evening performance in our Rec Ctr of "Gold Wing Express" - a white father and his 3 Indian sons - bluegrass country band - great guitar and banjo playing and lots of fun too.
Don and I drove the hour down to South Padre Island on Groundhog Day, had lunch at Pirate's Landing in Port Isabel and then went over to the Island. We met up with our friend Tracy Logan and her 4 month old daughter Emma. They were down from Lakefield area to visit Tracy's parents who winter on the island - from the Chatham area. It was Emma's first time to the beach and she slept through it.
On our way back to Alamo we stopped at the new Bass Pro Store in Harlengen but didn't buy any of their boats or anything. These stores are a work of wildlife art inside and always worth a good look around.
We have been to see some movies on Mondays - $5 ticket for Seniors all day on Mondays - so we go if the weather is a bit cool and cloudy. We saw "The Descendants" starring George Clooney; "The Iron Lady" starring Meryl Streit and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" starring Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock and a young boy who played his difficult part very well.
Don is now playing old men's Slow Pitch 4 mornings a week since he got drafted last week to play in the competitive league - which he seems to like better than his house league team. He is happy doing this and bought himself a beautiful $200 bat - didn't know that bats can be so expensive now? This Saturday he will be taking an all day course to learn to be an Umpire.
I participated in a 20 mile bike ride with my neighbour Roger on Saturday morning. This 20 or 40 mile ride was put on by the City of McAllen and the Texas Forest Service to celebrate Arbor Day. It was the first time for this ride and about 200 participants came out. It was a nice morning and we started at 7:30 am and were done by 10 AM. The fast bikers did the 20 mile route twice and when us slow bikers were around the 15 mile mark - the fast ones passed us on their second time around. Oh well.
We did do our second night of the Cuddle Club and this time I got to change a diaper, see a circumcision and do several bottle feedings. We stayed for almost 4 hours and the time went by very quickly. Tomorrow we will go again.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cuddle Club - After passing a background check, then a urine drug screen test I received a Cuddle Club Volunteer Badge from the Women's Renaissance Hospital in Edinburg ( about 20 minute drive from our park). This idea came from a lady in our park who was delivering knitted premie hats to the nursery in this hospital and the coordinator at the hospital asked if she was there for the "Cuddle Club" - to hold and rock babies in the nursery. She told us about that and I said if she would like to do that, I was interested too. So now there are 8 ladies involved. 4 of us did our first shift last Wednesday evening from 5 to 8 PM. In the time we were in the nursery there, 5 babies were born. The moms are only in for about 24 to 36 hours after a natural birth and 2 days for a C-Section. So we got to hold brand new babies - feed some. All the mom's rooms are private. There are about 500 babies born each year in this hospital. It is a real privilege to hold these beautiful newborns. We also get to be in the NeoNatal Step Down Unit (NICU). We are scheduled to volunteer 3 to 4 hours a week now.
Another thing - Inspired by my friend Marilyn Kerr - back home in Lakefield - I have done some knitting graffitti on the tree in front of our site - and carried that on to our little solar lights. It is now a Mexican tree.
One more item I want to mention is that today was "Cowboy Sunday". The minister in this RV Park is a 79 year old Methodist minister from Oklahoma. He and his wife are an amazing couple - always busy and work very hard - weekly service, visit the sick in hospitals and this year are scheduling photo sessions of all the park residents to put together a book available next September. Today for the service he wore his chaps and even spurs - he worked the rodeo as a minister. Here is a drawing that was done years ago of him. 653 people attended the church service this morning for Cowboy Sunday. The collection taken at the service today went to the minister and his wife for all the extra expenses they have for all the travelling they do to the hospitals etc.
He responds to all the First Responder calls (day and night) and will drive spouses to the hospital following the ambulance. The minister also is a painter and we see him sometimes with a ladder going into a mobile home in the park to do work. The congregation could also wear their western apparel and I did - even some boot earrings I bought at a wood carving show a week ago.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

January 18 to 28/2012
It has been a busy 10 days. We enjoyed a Dinner Theatre on the 20th that was put on by the talented McAllen High School Choir students (20 of them). Their program was called "I Walk with Music" - a tribute to the music of Hoagy Carmicheal ( a Jazz musician/songwriter born in 1899). Some of Hoagy's hits were "Georgia On My Mind" and "Star Dust". The dinner and show took place in a church hall which was decorated in the school colors of purple and gold - including satin chair covers and gold presentation plates. The catered chicken dinner was served by students. The choir boys wore tuxedos and the choir girls wore an assortment of fancy formal purple gowns.
On Sunday the 20th I took 2 lovely older widow ladies from the park out for lunch and then to the South Texas Museum in Edinburg to listen to an author who wrote a book of short stories on the famous King Ranch of Texas. She wasn't very interesting but a generous patron of that Museum is a granddaughter (over 80 years old) of the original King and she was there and told a few stories too that made the event worthwhile. Later that afternoon, Don and I attended the house (mobile home) blessing of our friends Rick and Brenda Watts. That evening I attended a concert in our park hall of John Sager and Mario - entertainers from Branson Missouri. They both had great voices for the music Frank Sinatra and other crooners.
On Monday the 21, we had a potluck dinner for all the Canadians in this park - over 70 came out to enjoy being together. After the potluck, I was fortunate to be given a ticket to attend another High School program - Nikki Rowe High School Choir's production of "Mame". The Musical Synopsis is "Mame Dennis's eccentric, bohemian lifestyle if interrupted when her late brother's son is entrusted to her care. But rather than adapt to any societal standards about child rearing,
money-making and romance - Mame does everything with her own dramatic flair." The students were fantastic!
This was a week of Health Fairs. Don and I attended a valley wide one in McAllen and had blood tests for kidney health and ears checked. We attended another one in our partner park here too. Maureen won a lovely gift basket as a door prize.
That evening I saw the McAllen High School Steel Drum Band play at the same park.
Another Highlight of the week was our Friday night dinner theatre "Murder Among the Mateys" in Pharr. This was a mystery dinner theatre and we had roles to play. Brenda and I went to a Ropa (warehouse where you sort through used clothing in giant piles) to get costumes for the 10 of us who attended. Then we shopped at Dollar stores for props. We had a fun evening at the Salty Sea Dog.
Our group was Thumbless Jack - Crewman (John), Cutthroat McPherson - Powder Monkey (Rick), Gurglin' Uma Scarr - Galley Wench (Bonnie), Governor Napier (Rollie), Juliana Napier - Governor's Wife (Nancy), Antonia Napier - Govenor's Daughter (Me), Breathless Betty Napier-Governor's Daughter (Maureen), Commodore Clearing (Don), Buccaneer Bradshaw-Privateer (Don Thompson), Mad Rose - Serving Wench (Brenda). Don Thompson was awarded the best actor of the night, Mad Rose was the best dressed.
On Saturday morning Maureen and I went birdwatching at the Edinburg Birding Park. There were lots of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks around.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Update for Jan 18/12
So from the last entry we have to catch up on a few things. We went to a dinner theatre in Alamo one night put on by the Halbrook Family - 2 adult sons playing guitar and banjo accompanying their mother and a few others. Mother cooked the chicken dinner - couldn't recommend the dinner or show and if we had driven ourselves to the event we would have left but we were with the Wilder Bus - from our park. It was a painful event best forgotten - no pictures either.
I did a Guided Bird Walk at the Santa Anna National Wildlife Refuge that is about 9 miles south of our park and borders on the Rio Grande River. It was Winter Texan Appreciation Day so there was no admission and free draws - I was lucky to win a beautiful butterfly mug. Also enjoyed a fun 90 minute presentation by Luciano Guerra - a nature photographer who does Birdwatching "Texas" Style - just google his name to find out more.
On Sunday, January 15/12 I drove a few ladies to see the Mariachi Aztlan again at the University of Texas- Pan American (Edinburg) - saw their Christmas performance in December. They were joined by a Dance Company and a large Mariachi Band from an Edinburg High School. No blond haired people in these performers.
Monday was the Wilder Bus trip to the Aloe King Farm. I did go on this trip last year but enjoyed it so much I wanted to do it again. An older couple (0nly 89 and 90 years young) do part of the tour of their son's Aloe Vera Farm. I just go to see the old lady - she is very entertaining in the way she talks - glad she is still alive and I will go next year too to make sure she is still around - they drink aloe juice every day. They mix it with their orange juice - and keep it in the frig - it doesn't really taste very good. We had a great chicken dinner there too. On the right is a picture of a "Salt Cedar" tree on the farm next door to the Aloe Farm. Impressive tree since most trees here are not that tall.
Last night (Jan 17/12) Don and I went to the Killer Bee Hockey Game. Don earned the tickets by test driving a Subaru at the local dealer. This is a professional farm team affliated with the Florida Panthers and a San Antonio team. It was loud and thankfully the Bees won 4 to 3 and there was no overtime period required. I am a great sports fan as you can tell but some pictures were taken to prove I attended. Lots of young kids were there but I found my favourite fan and had to have a picture. How cute is this little bee?
I watched Don play his senior mens' slow pitch game this morning - and they won too! Don is a valued young guy on the team - playing shortstop.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Saturday, Jan. 7/12
Happy 2012! Check out the beautiful Christmas display at the Catholic Basilica nearby - "Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle National Shrine". Check out for more info.
We celebrated the New Year quietly but the surrounding neighbourhood doesn't. The Texans seem to love fireworks. The booms start at Christmas and continue to New Years. There is a frenzie of booms as soon as dark comes on New Years Eve and you would think war broke out by midnite! We thought maybe fireworks were inexpensive here but that isn't true either?
Now the first week of 2012 is over. I have been busy teaching exercises classes - mat class on Tuesday morning, 30 minute low impact class on Wednesday morning and a combined low impact/mat class on Thursday morning. The lady who regularly leads the 1 PM aquacize class was away this week so she asked me to fill in so I did that 30 minute class every day this week too.
Monday morning I go out for a ride with the Bike Club here - usually about 6 miles, have breakfast at a restaurant, and then bike back. Tuesday morning after exercise class is the weekly Park Meeting - reporting 756 people in the park on 425 sites on that day. Wednesday morning I went with Don to his old guys slow pitch baseball game. Don is really enjoying playing Monday and Wednesday mornings but now is dreaming of a new bat - only $300 to $500 now for the latest technology. We also went to a Travel Show at the McAllen Convention Centre - geared towards the Winter Texan crowd - to entice people to take cruises and visit local sites and states.
Thursday morning I played in the weekly park ladies golf tournament. We have to pay $1 and if your team does well you may win that back. I was fortunate to sink my own birdie shot so I did win my $1 back. I lead a short golf warm-up session before we started - hoping to help our game and prevent injury but don't know if it helped - but then it won't hurt.
I have joined another 3 ladies at the park to volunteer for "The Cuddle Club"at a local Women's Hospital to hold babies for a 2 to 3 hour time slot once per week. We are just going through the paperwork now but hopefully will pass the drug testing?
Today, Maureen, Bonnie and I had an adventure to "Rancho Lomitas" with a local Birding Centre van trip. This 200 acre ranch is located north of Rio Grande City which is an hour west of us. It is native Tamaulipan brushland purchased by an ethnobotanist (Benito Trevino) in 1986. The land had been damaged by overgrazing but Benito has been restoring the health of the brush and education others regarding the importance of preserving native plants. At the end of our wagon ride tour, we were treated to mesquite flower sugar cookies and juice made from prickly pear cactus flower fruit.
We stopped for lunch at the Che Restaurant which was part of the "La Borde House" in Rio Grande City. The LaBorde House is a restored 1899 inn maintained and managed by the Starr County Historical Foundation. In the style of the Victorian period, each of the 16 bedrooms is named with the target of commemorating a bit of local history. Each room is beautifully furnished with antique furniture and accesories.