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.

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.
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