Friday, May 11, 2018

May 11, 2018

Spring Bird Migration
May 11, 2018


Male Indigo Bunting

It is so hard to believe it is already almost the middle of May.  I have been enjoying seeing a variety of birds during the spring migration.  Sadly, I did not make it to South Padre Island during the height of the migration.  Somehow the migration time has just flown by (no pun intended) and I did not get out there.  At least a few of the birds stopped by our house for a visit and a meal.
Bewick's Wren

This has been a beautiful spring.  We did have some snow back in December (I think it was) and a freeze in January that damaged some plants, but people trimmed back their plants, leaving huge piles of debris for the trash trucks to carry away, and now things quickly sprouted new growth and are growing rapidly.  I have already had to cut back plants a second time, that were getting too tall.
Oleander 
My mom and I went shopping one evening after supper and each picked up some potting soil.  I got a few little plants and they are doing well in the hanging baskets and new pots.  I picked up a few more plants a couple of weeks later and got half of them into planters, and the others are still waiting for my attention.  We have been getting a nice amount of rain and had a rainstorm one night with thunder and lightening so that now, everything is a beautiful shade of green.
Male - Lesser Goldfinch

We had not seen our youngest grandson in way too long, so this past weekend we went to visit our youngest son, his wife, and their one year old.  We have two grandchildren graduating from high school this year.  We stopped to visit another son, his wife, and their two, one of whom is graduating in a couple of weeks.  We hope to be able to attend the graduation, but sadly it is in the middle of the work week.  A couple of weeks ago we spent time in McAllen caring for the 5 youngest grandchildren in that part of the family.  We were there while the second oldest had a vocal recital where he sang If I Were a Rich Man from Fiddler on the Roof.
Grandson dressed for voice recital

This April was very different from last year's.  I spent April, 2017 in Dallas caring for our youngest grandson and while there I made a couple of weekend trips.  It was all fun and memorable, but spending this year at home was good, too.
Green Jay
My Cochlear Implant and the accessories have been giving me some challenges.  When we went to Houston in November, we had an appointment with the audiologist.  When I raised some problems I was having, she suggested that I go into the advanced settings on the sound processor.  I have done that and can tell that these settings do change things, but I have yet to find a real good setting.  I need to take time to work with them more and just have not done so.
Male - Golden-fronted Woodpecker

The rains that we have gotten have increased the supply of "blood sucking mosquitoes".  They love me.  Last night I woke up and found that a mosquito (or an army of them) had been chewing on me while I slept.  It was hours before I got back to sleep,  Today I had to be at the office early and now the lack of sleep is catching up with me.
One of the hanging baskets I planted recently
On our trip last weekend to Dallas, we all went to the George W. Bush Presidential Library.  We did not have time to tour the library, but walked around the gardens behind the library where thousands of wildflowers have been planted.  We were past the prime time, but there were still many beautiful blooms to enjoy.  Our little grandson would go from one flower type to another, inspecting them all.  We took a bunch of photos and as we finished, I found that I had been standing in an ant bed and it took the help of my husband and our daughter-in-law to help me get rid of them.
My husband, Ron, with me last weekend in
 Dallas at the Bush Presidential Library
Later in the afternoon we went along to see our little grandson get his first haircut.  Our daughter-in-law's mom and step-dad joined us and you would have thought some movie star was getting the royal treatment at a salon for all the photos we all took.  He was very good and patient while he got the haircut.
Barber shop where our grandson got his
 first haircut sitting in this airplane chair
Lately, I have been enjoying spending my evenings reading and though all the books have been good, the story lines begin to run together after a while.  I think I need to put the books aside for a while and work on the sewing.
A quilt I finished about a month ago - binding
 and all!  Pattern is Texas Two Step
One of Ron's brothers and his wife came to be with Ron's mom while we were gone last weekend.  It had been a while since they had been able to come and we were glad to have a chance to make our trip and know that his mom was being well cared for.  She has a lady who lives with her, but there are times that the lady wants to attend services at her church, etc. and someone needs to be there during that time.
One of two identical newly potted plants
I have spent a little time working in the yard recently.  Ron planted zinnias several places in the yard, but the spot we used a couple of years ago, is by far the best spot.  Ever since we moved into our house over 40 years ago, we have sweep leaves that fell on the driveway into that spot.  It has been like a compost pile and now the dirt is great for growing the zinnias.  They started blooming a couple of days ago.  Today I cut 5.  Hoping for a good crop of them this year.
Male - Baltimore Oriole




Thursday, March 22, 2018

March 22, 2018

Oops!  I Forgot!
March 22, 2018
Sandhill Cranes
New Mexico


I'm back.  Sorry that I have been gone so long from my blog.  Our lives have just been one event after another for months.  Those events and activities have been fun, good things, but they have taken up hours that used to be used for my blog.  I think that shows that my life is "normal" these days.  I have taken some time for quilting, birding, and travel, as well as assorted celebrations: Christmas, New Year's Day, lots of birthdays, and weekends with grandchildren.
A quilt I made for Bob and Vickey
 for this past Christmas
 
Just last week I had an appointment with a doctor who is new to me.  As I went through what seemed like stacks of forms, I had to list medications, allergies, surgeries, etc.  A little later as I was talking to the doctor and explaining that I have trouble hearing and to please could he speak more slowly.  All of a sudden it dawned on me that I forgot to list my Cochlear Implant surgery on the list of surgeries!  I thought, that is good; it is now a part of me.  I just don't dwell on it.
Wilson's Warbler
 
Yes, I still need to ask some people to try to speak louder, slower, or to turn toward me when they speak, but I was doing that before I went deaf.  I guess I have arrived at my "new normal".  Things progress and things change, but all in all, I get along pretty well.  I still avoid the telephone.  I still have a lot of trouble hearing in church, but when the sermon starts, I go to the foyer, and listen out there.  They have speakers there and have recently added two television screens that are showing the service.  It works well for me.
Rufus Hummingbird  in our yard.
The white on the elephant is ice.
 
If the music director is using the microphone, I can often pick out the melody of a new song, but too often he is not singing right into the mic.  The old familiar hymns may take me a few lines until I recognize the song and join in singing.  I go around humming along to the music in my head and that drives my husband nutty.  When the grandchildren play the piano for me, I rarely can figure out what the song is, but I can tell from the way the play how much they love the music and how challenging the piece might be.
Sandhill Cranes in flight
New Mexico
 
That reminds me of something that happened one day while I was taking care of  our grandchildren.   One of our grandsons is a rough and tumble boy who is a bundle of energy.  It is easy to see him as only a loud, outdoors man.  He loves to hike, play in the dirt, and defend his activities.  I was walking around the house humming and he looked at me and said, "I know that song."  I asked what he thought it was.  He said, Nothing But the Blood of Jesus.  He was correct.  Another day I asked him if he still enjoyed his piano lessons and he gave me a huge grin and a "thumbs up".    God is going to use this guy in amazing ways.  I do wish I could better discern the music they all play.

Bob and Vickey
New Mexico

Speaking of the grandchildren, a lot of times I have to have them repeat things if we are in a noisy place, but as with others, one on one we do well.  The younger ones have now had a large portion of their lives with me being deaf, so that is just the way they remember me.  The older ones remember how it was before I lost my hearing.
Canada Geese
New Mexico

Normally at the office I do fine.  It is rare that I have problems correctly hearing customers.  Ron handles all phone calls.  It is a challenge if there are lots of people in the office, but that doesn't happen too often.
Another quilt I recently finished
 for a great nephew
 
I don't enjoy parties like I used to.  I know it will be a struggle to hear, so sometimes I just don't go.  Other times I don't stay long.  I do plan to go to one this weekend because my daughter-in-law will be there with the girls and I will enjoy them and hopefully give her time to visit with friends she has not seen much lately.
Sandhill Cranes in flight
New Mexico
 
Going birding alone is something I don't do as much as before.  I just don't hear others walking up behind me and things like that.  I also have not seemed to have time lately.  I hope to make it to South Padre Island this month or next to see some of the migrating birds.  It has been a strange year for the birds.
Lesser Goldfinch
New Mexico
 
Weather have been very warm here, and very cold this winter.  We had a very light snow one day and a light freeze another time, but last weekend was very hot and that is not the only time lately that it was been warm enough for the birds to think they can go home.  Yet today on TV I saw snow falling in the background during the usual morning shows out of New York.  The birds better stay a while longer.
Snow on the Palm trees

The last three months have been filled with some trips.  We went to Albuquerque before Christmas and spent 5 or 6 days.  We both got sick while we were there and ended up cancelling the second leg of our trip and just coming home.  Our first full day in Albuquerque Ron and I drove to Apache del Bosque where the Sandhill Cranes spend the winter.  We were able to see thousands of them and it was a real treat. There were also thousands of a wide variety of ducks.
Sandhill Cranes
New Mexico

Our son from San Antonio and his wife came for Christmas.  In February we went to see our youngest son and his family to celebrate a birthday in their family and came home to celebrate mine, my mom's, and my sister's.
Mom and sister Debbie

I have kept grandchildren a couple of weekends and we have made a few trips to McAllen.  One weekend when the grandchildren were at our house, a group of about 15 white pelicans spent all day Saturday in the water behind the house. 
White Pelicans
 
I will try to not wait 3 months to post my next blog entry.  Thanks for reading the entries.
Young Female Golden-fronted Woodpecker
Our Yard

Sunday, December 10, 2017

December 10, 2017

Brownsville Had Snow!  Again!
December 10, 2017

Snow on my ivy plants around the birdbath.

We live in a tropical area.  We had hot humid summers; we have hot humid springs; we have hot humid autumns.  Winter is different.  It is warm and humid.  Early last week the temperature was running in the high 80s.  Then Thursday turned cold (and wet) and by Friday morning the "wet" had turned to sleet and then snow.  Officially, Brownsville got 1/4" of snow.  To those of you in the northern parts of the United States, and the northern parts of Europe, Russia, and Asia, you probably think we are silly to even mention it.  But it has been 14 years since the last snow fall which came on Christmas Eve, so that we woke to a world of white with several inches of snow on Christmas morning.  Prior to that it had been about 100 years since we had snow.
Snow on our roof Friday morning

Schools delayed their opening times, some businesses closed, and those of us who were open had  little business as people were either staying inside watching the snow, or driving around to see the beauty.  Since it had been 88 degrees the day before the cold front arrived, the snow did not stick on the ground in most places.  The heaviest of the snow in Brownsville was from about 11:00 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. in the middle of the day where every one could enjoy it.


Our two youngest granddaughters playing in the snow in McAllen Friday morning.

The night before the snow, Ron and I were in McAllen with the grandchildren.  Our son and his wife had gone out to supper and a ballet, leaving us with 8 children.  What fun we had.  The youngest of the girls and I baked cookies after supper.  Some of the children watched a video of the McAllen Christmas Parade for a while.  They moved the three dogs into cages in the garage to keep them warm.  Later some went outside watching to see if the snow had arrived yet.  What an enjoyable evening we had.


These past few weeks have kept me busy.  I had a few Christmas projects in the works and they are just about done.  My shopping is not even started in any significant way.  Our oldest son will be 50 on his birthday a week from today and we plan to be there to celebrate with him.  I have shopping on my mind and Ron has hiking on his mind.  Lots of visiting is the main thing we will be doing.

One weekend after Thanksgiving, two of our grandchildren came to spend a few days helping me decorate our house.  I should say they decorated with a tiny bit of my help.  They did an outstanding job and I am so proud of them and thankful for their help.  Our grandson with long thin fingers was able to hang ornaments perfectly.  He did the sewing room tree by himself.  I taught our granddaughter how to bake an apple pie and sent it home with them, still hot out of the oven.

I continue to have some problems with Cochlear over an order I placed with them.  It is so frustrating for me to deal with any problems over the phone.  I need to call them tomorrow and see if we can straighten out a mess that was created as they tried to replace a unit that was not working well.

Thursday and Friday I had an ear ache (in the ear without the implant) so I went to the doctor Friday and got some medicine.  The fluid behind the ear drum started causing some dizziness Saturday, so I stayed in Saturday and Sunday.

May you all have a blessed Christmas and enjoy time with those you love.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

November 14, 2017

Annual Cochlear Appointment
November 14, 2017


It still seems like summer in Brownsville


Every time I write one of these blog entries, I think, "I can do another one in a few days.  There is nothing special going on."  And then a month goes by and I wonder when I could have worked in time to do an entry sooner.  This has been another month of busy times.

Late in October, I went to McAllen for several days to care for some of our grandchildren.  Their parents were out of town and had taken the three youngest with them.  The oldest is away at college, and the other grandmother had taken two of the young boys on a special trip.  That meant I only had the second oldest of the boys, who is a senior in his home schooling, and the two oldest girls.  The two boys who had been with their other grandmother returned after a few days, so the numbers went up, but I think they were exhausted from their trip and were pretty quiet.
Fabric art designs
 
The grand children with me had chores and some school work to do, so they took care of those responsibilities.  The biggest "glitch" we hit was oversleeping on Sunday morning.  Due to my hearing or rather my lack of hearing, I depend on someone to wake me each day.  The appointed person overslept.  The girls got ready in record time, and I got the three of the children to Sunday School and church.  I did not make it.  It would have taken me too long.

While there, I had assorted places to take the children.  One had voice lessons, there were many church activities, and a guitar lesson for the oldest girl.  The oldest boy went along since he and the teacher's son are good friends.  There was some shopping that needed to be done and I kept busy just keeping up with who needed to be where, and when.  I did some sewing and finished the binding on a quilt for our youngest grandchild who lives in Dallas.  The kids all spent time practicing piano and playing outside with the kittens and dogs.
One of the kittens in McAllen at our son's house
 
When I got home from getting to spend time with them, I had to do a little house cleaning and laundry to get ready for Ron and me to go to Houston for my yearly visit to the audiologist.  We left very early in the morning on November 1 and on our way to Houston, stopped in El Campo for me to do a little shopping at one of my favorite quilt shops.  Once we got to Houston, I spent two hours going over an assortment of issues with my Cochlear equipment.   I still do not have all my needs met, but we made some progress.

When we finished there, we headed to downtown Houston and to our hotel where we stayed for two nights while we attended the annual International Quilt Festival.  It opened on Wednesday evening for Preview Night.  We had about 5 hours to spend shopping and I made good use of the time.  Ron sat in the lobby reading and holding on to my purchases that I would bring to him before going back for more.  The weather was perfect while we were in Houston.  It was clear and cool.  Each day we would walk to the Convention Center (about a mile each way) and then I would walk miles as I shopped at the 1,100 booths, overflowing with fabric and assorted supplies for quilters.

Thursday we both spent the day on the show floor, again with me shopping and Ron hauling my purchases around.  He was so kind and helpful.  On Friday, Ron took a class of maintaining Singer Featherweight sewing machines.  I am fortunate to have three of these precious machines manufactured in the 30s and 40s.  Each had belonged to a special family member and all need maintenance and he agreed to take the all day class.  He said it was a great class with an excellent teacher and he would have liked to have another day in the class.

Friday evening when he finished his class, we left Houston and he drove us to Austin where he spent the next two days in a class to renew he flight instructor's license.  He was not as impressed with that class.  He has to take it every two years and in all the years he has been taking it, he was most disappointed with this class.

While he was doing that, our youngest child, Stephen drove to Austin early Saturday morning and picked me up to go to Dallas with him for a longer visit with our youngest grandson than Ron could get.  Our little grandson is now 9 months old and so much fun.  He is a very easy baby and happy almost all the time.  We enjoyed time just watching him play.  He had just learned to pull up and stand on his own, the day before I arrived and he was eager to show off his new skill.  We had a good time just relaxing and visiting and resting my feet after miles and miles of walking the previous few days.
A new quilt for Caleb
 
Sunday morning Stephen picked my up at my hotel and we all went to church.  We had been celebrating his wife's birthday and their anniversary.  Our visit fell right in between the two special days.  Late Sunday evening Ron arrived and enjoyed time with our grandson.  Stephen is off from work on Mondays so that gave us extra time to spend with them.  In Dallas the leaves had turned to beautiful fall colors, but I didn't take time for photos.

It was a long drive home and we arrived about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.  We were both "dragging" for several days and we caught up for the trip and adjusted to the time change.  It was so good to be away for a while and we both enjoyed our activities.

I have had some of my Cochlear items replaced in the past few weeks and I am still needing to do some more.  I sound processor they sent me was to be already programmed to my specific needs.  I put it on and heard nothing.  I thought it was just not programmed.  They replaced it and the same thing happened.  Later I switched to a new coil and cable on it and  it worked.  It is either the coil of the cable that is bad.  I had just had those replaced and now I need to have them try again, since the new ones don't work.
Sun setting and beautiful clouds 
 
This weekend I was sick all weekend with bad allergy problems.  By Monday I was feeling better but had lost my voice.  Today it is better, but not great.  This is my "allergy" time of the year.  Everything makes me sneeze and makes my nose run.  Yuck.

I thought I would mention that on our trip, we saw some Hurricane Harvey damage, but not too much.  People we talked to were having serious allergy problems and will all the water that they had along the Texas coast I think there is mold and mildew everywhere.  In El Campo a lady told us that a few miles away, debris had been stacked in the median along the interstate highway for miles as they wait to find places to haul tons and tons of limbs and household items that could not be salvaged.
Beautiful sky







Thursday, October 19, 2017

October 11, 2017

Our First Norther of Autumn
October 11, 2017

Wilson's Warbler
 
I started this last week and am going to wrap it up tonight and try to get another one done in a few days.  You all encourage me so much about my blog, that I really appreciate it and try to post when I have time.  I have a little more energy these last few weeks than I have for a long time, but there is so much to catch up on in the areas of house work and office work, that the blog is still running behind.

Ruby Throated Hummingbird
 
When you live in warm, tropical, South Texas, it is a treat to have a Norther in early October.  There is probably an exact definition of a Norther, but I think is has to do with a 20 degree drop in temperature within a particular time frame.  Technically, I don't think we got the 20 degree change, but we got a nice wind from the north, rain, and relief from the temperatures in the 90s.  Yesterday was cloudy almost all day, following days of crystal clear, vivid blue skies and very little wind.  Today will be cool and wet.
Not sure, but probably a young Altamira Oriole
 
I have had an assortment of problems with my Cochlear devices.  The sound on one of the sound processors keeps cutting in and out.  I need to send it in for repair or replacement.  I need to order a variety of supplies.  I need a new cable that goes from the sound processor to the magnet (coil) and filters and a couple of other things.  One evening recently we went to McAllen and my mom and Ron's aunt were in the back seat.  Mom had the mic on her lapel but I was getting constant noise from it.  When Ron's aunt wore it, it was fine.  Sometimes I can figure out why things like that happen, but not that evening.  I needed it on Mom because she is very soft spoken.
Mom, Daughter-in-law Barb, and Ron's Aunt Viva
 
In general, things are going OK with my Cochlear equipment.  One of the biggest challenges is keeping all of the items charged.  By the time I charge the remote control, the batteries, the 2 mics, the phone attachment, and plug in the dryer for the sound processors, a corner of my large sewing table is covered.  Traveling with these things can be a challenge.  Older hotels do not have enough plugs to keep me hearing.  I have to take all the equipment and a multi plug cord.  Of course Ron and I have cell phones and Kindles to also plug in, so my carry on bag seems to be filled with electronics.
One of the quilts - this one for the little girl on the right

The last few weeks, I have been doing a lot of sewing.  I have finished some quilt tops and have another ready to assemble.  All the squares are made.  I presented a couple of them to the young children I had made them for and they were very pleased.  As often happens I get stalled on the last step: binding the quilts.  I don't enjoy that step and end up putting it off until I have to do it under pressure at the last minute before presenting them.
A different quilt for the little boy in the photo
 
Bird migration this year for the little birds heading south for the winter has been a little different from years past.  Our waterfalls are currently out of order and they really miss that.  The advantage is that it is bringing them to the birdbaths closer to the house.  I am enjoying watching them.  As always, I enjoy taking photos of them also.  I think the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey up and down the Texas Gulf coast has caused feeding problems for the birds as they migrate and some are coming here and staying a little longer to fill up before heading to Central and South America for the winter.
Golden fronted Woodpecker

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.