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.