Tuesday, September 19, 2017

September 19, 2017

Autumn Leaves
September 19, 2017


Scarecrow driving the wagon I got in Albuquerque -
 filled with bales of hay and pumpkins

If there are any autumn leaves falling in South Texas, it is only because of strong winds from Hurricane Harvey that skirted our area; or they are leaves that died from the heat.  It is still hot here.  We don't have many trees that actually change the color on their leaves when it gets cold - if it gets cold.  Our seasons are not typical here.  They are hot and hotter.
Young Green Heron that lives in our back yard

I see it has been a month since I wrote a blog entry.  This time it was not like the last few weeks were so busy that I just didn't have time.  This time, many of my evenings were quiet and there were no commitments for that evening.  I think what happened is that the last few months of very busy times, finally caught up with me and I just "crashed" when I got home from work most evenings
Great Kiskadee


This last month I have done a lot of reading and some bird watching.  It is migration time and the hummingbirds are flitting in and out of the yard, often chasing one another and not always stopping for a drink.  I must fill the feeders this evening because they have drained them dry.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird


Usually the little warblers and other small colorful birds spend their time on the waterfalls and I have trouble getting good photos of them.  This year the waterfalls are in need of being rebuilt and thankfully, those little birds are spending time on the large elephant fountain where I get a good view.  Apparently they also get a good view of me, because if I so much as move, they fly away quickly.
Wilson's Warbler
 
There have been assorted activities during the past month, like birthday parties for grandchildren .  I have had a lot of time to work on quilts that are in progress and unfinished.  I have finished several and am very pleased to have progressed on them.  I have also done some housework , not enough, but more than the previous few months.  My sewing room got organized a few weeks ago, but I not sure you could tell it now.
The cake I made for one of our grandsons for his birthday party
 
I mentioned a hurricane in our area.  That was Hurricane Harvey which by-passed Brownsville about a hundred miles off shore and proceeded to clobber the middle and upper coast of Texas, battering the area just north of Corpus Christi and inundating the areas around Houston with massive amounts of water, flooding huge sections of that part of the state.  Here,  Harvey gave us about 1/8" of an inch of rain at our house and some very gusty winds, but nothing that came anywhere near what the upper coast of Texas suffered through.
One completed quilt top -
 a friend will machine quilt it soon.
 
Since our tiny brush from Harvey, Hurricane Irma has done major damage from the Caribbean, to Florida, and to several other states.  Following Irma is Hurricane Jose, Hurricane Katia, (which even though it went into Mexico south of us, gave us about 5 1/2" of rain over about a week).  Then there is Hurricane Maria, which is inflicting major damage in the islands south east of Florida,  and Hurricane Lee, while Tropical Depressions Norma and Otis are dying out and aren't posing problems at this time.



Canada Warbler
 

Our church has teams that can help after a storm or other crisis.  They have two mobile kitchens and can feed about 2,500 meals each, a day.  Many church members have taken turns helping in the small communities around Corpus Christi.  They may end up helping in other places in the days and weeks to come.  Our son from McAllen led teams of 60 city workers twice to help in some of the hardest hit small communities, collecting brush and repairing parts of their water systems.  Texans help each other.  This is a great state!
Young Lesser Goldfinch
 
When I flew to Albuquerque for Easter weekend, our daughter-in-law and I went shopping at an antique mall and I picked out a small wagon, in which I fixed a fall arrangement.  I also made another arrangement.  In the past year or so, I have not had the energy to do this kind of seasonal decorating, so I know I am getting better.
Another completed quilt top waiting to be quilted

As for my hearing , I have encountered a little problem and I just have not decided where it is coming from.  The sound processor on the Cochlear equipment has been cutting out some and it is hard to tell where the problem is.  I was about ready to send the sound processor in for work, but then remembered early on with the device, I had a bad cable that caused a similar problem.  Hopefully this coming weekend I can put some time into solving the problem.
Young Hooded Oriole
 
In the past I know I have told you I still hear "the music" in my head.  An irritating thing is that lately it seems when I am in noisy situations, the music gets louder so it can be the loudest sound I hear.  That was a problem last weekend at a birthday party for our youngest McAllen grandson.
Young Green Jay

There are so many things going on with our sons and their families that it has been hard to keep up.  We have fun times ahead and a slew of birthdays in the next three months.  We will soon be going to the Quilt Festival in Houston and a Flight Instructor's class for Ron in Austin.  We would really like to go to Dallas again to see our youngest grandchild.  It has been too long since we have seen him (about 2 months).  He is growing and changing every day.
American Goldfinch
 
When we go to Houston for the Quilt Festival I will have an appointment with the audiologist for my yearly check-up on the Cochlear equipment.  My hearing will be tested and any necessary adjustments to the sound processor will be made at that time.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

August 19, 2017

More Time With the Grandchildren
and Trying to Catch up at Home and Office
August 19, 2017


Young Green Heron in our back yard 

Earlier this month, I was able to spend most of a week with the grandchildren in McAllen.  Their mother had to be out of town for the week and although our son was in town, he leaves very early for the office and often gets home very late.  I drove to McAllen on Sunday late afternoon two weeks ago and our daughter-in-law left before dawn Monday morning.  She was hoping to be home Thursday night, but it turned out to be Friday night.
 
 Two of the grandchildren
 (the two youngest in McAllen)

During the week, I mostly stayed at the house all the time.  The only children who had activities were the two oldest boys.  The oldest is working two jobs so he was not there most of the time and the second oldest had a couple of classes in the evenings and his older brother was able to take him.  All of the children went to church Wednesday night, but I had gone to Harlingen for a doctor's appointment and our oldest grandson had taken them to the church when I got back, so I had a couple of hours of quiet time.
Wonderful rain in McAllen
The children kept busy with a variety of activities and were really no problem at all.  I did make a trip early one morning to the store to restock dog food.  With three dogs they go through it in a hurry.  I made a couple of quick grocery store trips, and the rest of the time I relaxed and enjoyed the loving grandchildren.  We had a wonderful rain one day while I was there and it not only watered the city well, but it cooled things off by about 20 degrees!
Beauty after the rain
Ron had told me the week before I went to McAllen that our son, Dave, in San Antonio was coming for the weekend after my stay in McAllen.  It turned out we had both misunderstood thinking he was coming Friday night, but it was Thursday night.  Our son in McAllen assured me his wife would be home to cover things at their home and I could go ahead and leave Thursday night.  On Saturday we drove out to Laguna Atascosa and took a few bird photos and bought senior citizen lifetime passes to the National Parks for $10.  You can get yours this month only.
Green Jay
We had a great visit with Dave.  His family was busy with other obligations and could not come with him, but we had a good time and are glad he was able to get away for a few days.  Dave left Sunday afternoon.  We did a lot of "eating out," and Dave fixed a crock pot meal for us for Saturday evening.
Our son Dave
Saturday lunch at Longhorn Cattle Co.
Monday evening we drove to Harlingen to pick up Mom's car which our son had borrowed for a few days while he had some work done on his.  It was good to see he and his wife and we chatted in a parking lot where we had met for the car exchange.
Chachalaca
This week has been busy as I worked to catch up from being out of the office the previous week.  I am always pleased when customers ask about how I am doing with my Cochlear implant.  They are curious and kind.  Often, they are asking because either they have a hearing problem or a family member does.  I am always glad to talk about my situation and so often they say they can't believe how well I do on conversations.  As I have said before, one on one is good if there aren't too many other noises around.
 Tree Ron took out today
Ron spent much of today working in the yard.  He mowed the back yard early this morning and then  worked on taking out a tree that was not in good shape and was hanging over the driveway.  It was a big job because the tree was so tall.  The yard is looking good and I appreciate all the work he has put into it the last couple of years to take out some trees that needed to go.  I worked in the yard off and on during the day and that is when I discovered a young Green Heron that allowed me to take photos.
 Down came the tree
I almost forgot to share the news that my mom is back home!  She left here in late April to attend the wedding of one of her granddaughters which was in North Carolina.  Then she and my sister Debbie spent a week traveling around that part of the country before flying to Idaho where my sister and her husband live.  
 Ground Squirrel
Seems to be a Mexican Ground Squirrel

Shortly after she got there, she hurt her back and then dealt with a couple of illnesses which left her very weak.  She was finally strong enough to make the long trip home this past Tuesday.  She is looking great, feeling great, and eager to get back to seeing friends and family.  My sister Janet came with her and stayed several days.  This afternoon I took my sister to the airport so she could return to her home and husband.
Ron at Longhorn Cattle Co.
 
Tomorrow evening, Mom plans to go with Ron and me to McAllen to attend the church where our son and his family are members.  Their oldest son will be preaching in the evening service and we would all like to be there for that.  
Green Heron
 
Monday I have another appointment with my lung doctor to see how I have done with the sleep apnea machine.  I can't really decide if it is helping.  It is not a major change, but a slight one and I can't decide if it is worth the hassle, so I will just see what the doctor says.  
Green Heron
 
You can see that I am not slowed by the use of my Cochlear implant.  I go to the office most days, I go to church most Sundays, I do my shopping, work in my yard (a little bit), and do most of the things I always did.  I don't enjoy large gatherings, but most other things are about the same as they have always been.  I am so thankful for the technology that allows me to hear.
  Where Ron has taken out several trees

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 31, 2017

A Quiet Week for a Change
July 31, 2017

Even the clouds were "peaceful" this week.

Since this blog talks a lot about my deafness, I should probably explain that our "quiet" week did not have too much to do with my hearing.  It was actually a week that was not over booked with activities, grandchildren, and commitments.   I did send our daughter-in-law in McAllen, a text early last week telling her that our house sure was quiet.  Two grandchildren had been with us the previous week and three others joined us briefly at the end of that week.  That made this past week a drastic change from the previous one.
White-winged Dove
 
I had a variety of reasons for being extra late getting to the office each day.  Thankfully my boss (my husband) very rarely complains.  We had more time to talk this last week and try to make some plans for various necessary trips in the next few months.  Ron is a private pilot and every two years he has to go to a certification class.  This fall is when he needs to go.  Normally he goes to Corpus Christi in November or December and sometimes I go, but I have not the last time or two.  Since it is close to Christmas, taking a weekend to be out of town is hard.
White-winged Dove
 
Then I would like to go to the Houston Quilt Festival this fall.  At this point I am trying to go every other year.  Again, this is the year for it.  I also need to go to Houston for my yearly trip to see the audiologist about my sound processor for the Cochlear implant.  We try to do that when we go the the quilt show.  So, today we made hotel reservations in Houston for the quilt show and in Austin for his flight certification class.  They are no longer doing the classes in Corpus Christi. 
Baby Oriole
 
Now I need to get the class reservations for the quilt festival made.  Ron is planning to take one class on maintaining Singer Featherweight sewing machines.  The ones I am interested in are already full, but I hope to take one 1/2 day class.  Ron's is an all day class.  We got our reservations at the same hotel as last time we went ( 2 years ago) and if the weather is good, we can walk to the convention center.
Sparrows and Oriole
 (probably an Orchard Oriole - but correct me if you think I am wrong)
 
Ron had talked to our daughter-in-law in McAllen last night and she will be making a trip to visit her dad and to pick up a car for their oldest son to take to college.  The one he has is not up to the trip.  So I will be at their house most of next week.  Our son will be in town, but at work all day.  The kids and I will have a good time and try to do some of the things we did not get done last time.
White-winged Dove and Starling
 
This morning I went to the doctor's office to get some blood work done and the nurse did a much better job that usual.  So far, no bruise and she got it on the first try.  I go back Friday for the results.  I had been there last Friday for results from some sonograms and all was well with them.
Sparrows on the birdbath
 
Ron spent a lot of time in the yard this past weekend and this evening.  The rains we had earlier this month mean that the trees, shrubs, and vines are taking over the back yard.  He is in the process of giving the yard a good soaking.  But rain is in the forecast for tomorrow. 
Golden fronted Woodpecker
 
My weekend was a lazy one.  I read a lot, slept until noon on Saturday, and did a a little sewing and a little housecleaning.  I am putting the binding on one of the quilts and probably have just about an hour of work left on that one.
Current quilt project
 
This weekend was very hot.  Saturday it was 97 degrees with a "feel like" temperature of 110 degrees.  It was a drier heat than usual and I told Ron it felt like someone had opened the oven door.  I only stayed out about 20 minutes, cutting back some hibiscus plants that were blocking my view of the birds.
Close up
 
Speaking of the birds, we had a lot of them in the yard Saturday and Sunday.  They were at the feeders and the birdbaths.  We had several Green Jays, grackles, wrens, orioles, sparrows, kiskadees, hummingbirds, kingbirds, starlings, mocking birds, thrashers, and a few others.  I took some time to photograph some of them. 
 Close up

I went to the grocery store for a very quick trip Saturday evening.  I got enough for a few days.  We had tacos tonight and they were great!  We do like our Mexican foods!
Saturday bath time for the sparrows

This area is a unique blend of what we call Tex-Mex.  It refers to the food, the language, the culture, the music, etc.  This evening I finished reading a book written by a friend, Rebecca McLendon.  The book is titled Whispers from the Valley.  Becky (Rebecca) and I graduated together.  I don't know when we actually met, but probably in Junior High school, or maybe in girl scouts earlier.  If you grew up in this part of South Texas and graduated in the early 1960s you will really be glad she has a good memory because she brings to mind so many activities we were involved in during that time.
Getting a drink
 
Even though I knew, and admired Becky, as we grew up, I did not know her real well.  She wasn't in the band and that is where most of my spare time was spent.  The book helped me learn a lot more about her.  She shares a lot of things that were unique to her life.  It is well written and I am glad I added it to my Kindle a few days ago.  If you are interested, you can get it through Amazon.
Buff-bellied Hummingbird

Monday, July 17, 2017

July 17, 2017

Thankful for Blessings
July 17, 2017



The last few weeks, we have been busy with a variety of chores and activities.  It would be easy for me to think about all the work I needed to do to clean my house.  Instead I was excited to do it to prepare for a visit from our youngest son, his wife, and their 5 month old son.

Ron spent time working in the yard.  We had been out of town so much during the Spring, that he had not had much time to take care of things in the yard and garage.  As he would work on things that had to be trimmed back, I would think about how thankful I was for the rains that had come recently and that the drought that had plagued us for a while, was not currently a problem. 

Just the last few days have been packed with activities.  When our youngest son and his wife arrived they said they might just stay until Wednesday or Thursday.  Then they decided to stay until early Friday morning.  We were delighted with the extra time with them.  Our son and his family really enjoyed the back yard while they were visiting.  Our son showed his young son the birds in the yard.  When others in the family enjoy the birds as I do, I am blessed.

Our son in McAllen was having trouble with one of their cars and we offered to let them use my mom's car which had been sitting in the garage too long.  I had planned to get it out and use it just so it could be run for a few days and it worked out better for him to use it.  We agreed to meet Thursday evening about 1/2 way between our place and theirs to deliver the car to him.

We met at a pizza place where we had met a few months ago.  We had a great evening with good visiting and good food.  Friday we were up very early to see our youngest son and his family off as they were headed to visit his wife's grandmother and aunt on their way home.  We played with the very happy baby while they loaded the car and I got the baby to sleep just before they left.   Thankfully they were a long way down the road before the baby woke up.  He was exhausted.

Friday night we had supper with friends and Saturday morning we went to McAllen so Ron could help our son there with some projects around their house.  It was so good to have additional time with them.  It turned out that the three youngest children were to be baptized at church the next morning.  It was too late for Ron to get a substitute for his class, so I drove up there for the baptisms Sunday morning, and after church we went out to lunch and then back to their house so the two children who would be spending a few days with us could pack.

These last few days were overflowing with activities, but they were also overflowing with joy as we rejoiced for the three young grandchildren who had invited Jesus into their hearts and have made Jesus the Lord of their lives.  That does not mean they will instantly be perfect, but it means they will look to God's Word, the Bible, as a guide in their lives.  Just before church started, the 11 year old girl went to do something and I picked up her note pad.  She had notes from the Sunday School lesson and drawings illustrating the lesson.  Her notes were excellent - sentences of truth about God and his blessings.

We are so surrounded by blessings we just sometimes overlook them, or maybe take them for granted, but I am hoping to focus on the good and not the bad.  I seem to be having a little more trouble with my sound processor some days, but I met a man Saturday and we had a rather long discussion and after about 20 minutes I told him about my deafness and the Cochlear Implant.  He was astounded and said he never would have guessed I had any hearing problem.  Discussions one-on-one are when the system works the best.  My talk with him was nice and I did not spend all the time asking him to repeat things.

Life is not without problems and challenges.  My mother went to North Carolina for a granddaughter's wedding near the end of April.  Then she and one of my sisters traveled in that area for an additional week.  She went home with my sister to Idaho.  While there she had trouble with her back and then one additional problem after another.  She is still in Idaho instead of being here in Brownsville as planned.  Thankfully, my sister works in the small hospital in her little town so she knows all the medical people and has been getting Mom the help she needs.  Again, that is a blessing in the midst of Mom's problems.

I hope you are enjoying blessings in your life.  Sometimes we allow the hard things to overshadow the good, but if you aren't already looking for the blessings, please give it a try.


Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19, 2017

How Can Life Be 
Hectic and Wonderful
At the Same Time?
 Grandchildren
June 19, 2017

The three oldest of the grandchildren in McAllen

A few minutes ago I pulled up the previous posting and saw it had been 2 weeks since I wrote an entry and that one ended with me mentioning that the following 2 weekends would be spent caring for our grandchildren who live about 80 miles away.
 The four youngest and a baby kitten - one of two they have currently
 
Thinking of those weekends, they were hectic, wonderful, exhausting, relaxing, delightful, and fun.  There are seven children in that family and what fun it was to spend several days with them.  The weekend of June 10, I went to their house on Saturday afternoon.  Our son and his wife had expected to leave early in the afternoon to take a week long trip.  As often seems to happen when any of us have our plans all made, things happen that delay those plans.
 The two youngest boys playing happily together
 
As I walked in the door my daughter-in-law hollered to me to take a different route through the house because the washing machine had just flooded across my normal path to the kitchen.  They were mopping and setting fans to dry out the area.  Our son was doing some last minute grocery shopping.  When he got home he spent time in the small utility room on the floor trying to repair the washer.  Actually I think by the time they left that evening, he had it working.
 Video game time in the living room
 
So on that first weekend with the children, I was there from Saturday afternoon until Monday afternoon.  The  children have never been better, and that is saying a lot because they are usually very good.  We must have all been tired because the first day everyone just relaxed.  On Sunday the oldest girl had to be at the church very early.  The rest of us were on time.  Everyone was up early, dressed, fed and ready to go.
 Early morning in the school room
 
Vacation Bible School started at their church that week and so on Monday most of the children slept a little late, which would help out for the evening VBS.  We had good meals and enjoyed some treats.  We did some cleaning.  It is amazing how much can get done in 15 minutes with 8 people working hard.  One of the girls has been writing stories and she spent time doing that.  The girls played dress up and one played piano while the youngest made up dances to go with the music.  They were all good about doing their chores without having to be reminded.
 The middle girl with her favorite kitten
 
Monday morning I baked biscuits for breakfast.  Our daughter-in-law had left the freezer well stocked with things to bake while they were gone.  When I started to fix lunch, the oven would not work.  I tried everything I knew to try, but had no luck.  That changed the menus for the next week.
Spaghetti was great (and doesn't need an oven)
 
Late afternoon Monday their other grandmother arrived and she took care of the children until Thursday late afternoon when I returned to stay until Sunday night.  During my time back at home, I had several appointments and I was trying to finish a quilt top that my friend Dolores was going to have time to quilt for me. 
 Ron helping the little boys with Father's Day project
 
When Ron and I went out to dinner on the 5th for our anniversary, I had lost my Kindle Fire.  He called the place we had eaten and they had found it and were waiting for me to come get it.  So we returned there for the Kindle Fire and supper.  We had supper with friends another evening.  I worked long hours on my reports for the accountant since I was going to be gone again.
Yummy spaghetti
 
When I left the office to return to the grandchildren on Thursday I was really rushed.  I stopped along the way to pick up lunch about 3:30 and by the time I got to McAllen, I was sick from my lunch.  Yuck!  Thankfully it passed quickly, but left me very cautious in what I chose to eat for the next few days. 
The boys always have so much to discuss, it is hard to get them to eat!
 
One of the older boys still has some school work to finish up from their home schooling.  The other of the older boys has been doing some carving and is enjoying it very much.  The children were still being very good and we spent some time working on gift shopping/making for Father's Day since their dad would be home on Sunday evening. 
 Wood carving in the hot garage
 
Ron came up Friday evening and stayed until Saturday evening but returned that evening to teach his class Sunday morning.  He helped the boys and I helped the girls with their gifts.
Saturday sewing
 
One of the granddaughters and I spent a lot of Friday and Saturday sewing.  She did a great job on learning how to make a new quilt block and then spent time sewing fabric pictures on paper to make little books.  She got 2 or 3 done and made note cards, too.  Sunday morning the kids were showing their exhaustion from summer heat, VBS. and grandma's visit.  We all did a little cleaning that afternoon and then relaxed.
Note cards made over the weekend
 
Hearing issues for me always arise.  When we are all in one room to eat, the noise level gets to be too much.  I can't always get the things the younger ones are saying.  At their church, hearing is very hard for me.  I did not go to Sunday school this Sunday.  The teacher is great, but he talks way too fast for me to understand.  The kids were moving much slower this Sunday after evenings of activities.  Most of the week it was 100 degrees or more in the afternoons at their house.  There was almost no playing outside.
She spent a LITTLE time on roller blades, but it was just too hot!
 
This week looks like it won't be too hectic.  I have one medical appointment and so does Ron.  He has a job or two promised out of the office.  I need to get back to my house cleaning.  Plenty to keep us busy.
Bringing in the mail