Monday, June 10, 2019

June 10, 2019

I'm Back!
Sorry About the Long Break
June 10, 2019

It has been almost 8 months since I have added a new posting to my blog.  I was so pleased to notice that although I have been away for such a long time, that last month there were almost 500 page views.

I may have to "ease" back into this slowly since I think I have forgotten how to do this in my sleep, which was often the case in the past.  We will see how this goes.  Since the last writing, I have a new computer at home and it includes a new keyboard.  The keyboard is wider and so I make a lot of errors in my typing.  Please be patient.

Many things have happened during these last eight months and they were factors in me not updating my life with my Cochlear Implant.  I think it has not just been those things going on in our lives, but also that in the beginning of the break, not much seemed to be different in my life with my implant and things in that respect were rather boring.  Now I am having some problems with the assorted equipment and those cause frustrations.

The biggest thing that has happened in our lives is that some major changes are in the works for our business.  The business, Landreth's Locksmith Service, has been at its current location for about 80 years.  The business belongs to my husband and me, but the building has belonged to my mother.  The local school district decided that they would like to buy up a large area next to the football stadium (which included Mom's property) and negotiations started about the end of this past September for them to buy Mom's building.  She consulted us, and my siblings at each step along the way.  It is not something she entered into lightly.

Moving or closing our business, was not in our plans at this point, but it seemed the time was right to do it.  It was April 15, 2019 before the papers were signed and in the agreement, Ron and I have a year to move out of the building.  Knowing that the final decision would probably be to sell, Ron began working in our huge warehouse in the fall, clearing things out.

Over the early months of this year, each of our sons, took time to come for a few days or a week, to help.  Each had things of their own stored in the warehouse and they needed to make decisions the same as we did, what to keep and what to let go.  Those decisions have been hard for each of us (some harder than others), and many remain to be decided.

The countless hours my husband has put in have been productive, but have also been hard on us.  A final decision has still not been made about whether we will try to continue the business in some form or change direction.  I am ready to retire.  Ron is not as eager to do so.  For many reasons, we see things from different perspectives.  Someone asked him what he would do if he retired.  He said his daughters-in-law all had lists for him.  He is a "handy" man and top of the list is the daughter-in-law in McAllen who wants a chicken coop built.

The most fun thing we have done during these months is to take a LONG overdue vacation.  It was a combination of a trip to our grandson's wedding which was in Michigan, and a vacation doing some things that we enjoy doing  Sadly, Ron had been too busy to do much research on our route and missed a couple of places close to our route that he would have enjoyed visiting.

During these months I have taken few bird photos, but I did take some great photos of blooming plants and blooming trees on our trip.  We also traveled home through some of the severe flooding in the Mid-West, mostly in Missouri and Oklahoma.  It was so sad to pass farm fields for hour after hour that were under water, with the water levels still rising.  God protected us along our route and with the many storms rumbling through the areas we were traveling in, a tornado 30 miles south of our route one night was the closest we came to serious weather.  We did have heavy rain and lightening on the last hour of our trip that evening.

The grandson who got married is the oldest of the grandchildren in McAllen.  Our son from there, his wife, and 8 of their 9 children traveled together (the groom met the rest of his family in Michigan, as he had been away at college).  They first went to visit family in Kansas before going to Michigan.  My sister from Idaho flew to Dallas and my mom also flew to Dallas and my sister who lives in that area did the driving of the three of them to go to the wedding.  Ron and I traveled together.  After the wedding all of us traveled to the replica of Noah's Ark that is in Kentucky and spent a day touring that amazing structure.

This seems to be a good place for me to stop the blog for this evening, and I will try to get back to it soon with more on our trip, my Cochlear situation, and our business situation.  For this posting, all the photos are from the trip.  The wedding was the middle of May and Spring had just arrived in central Michigan.  There were so many beautiful blooming trees but I don't know what any of them are so I am willing to hear from those of you who do know.

Mornings were in the upper 30s in Michigan and this past week in Brownsville we have had unusually high temperatures right at 100 and with a heat index (feel like temperature) of up to 123 degrees. What a change. One friend asked if I had fallen in love with Michigan and  was considering not returning.  I told her that as much as I loved the cool, crisp mornings, all I had to do was think of their winters and I was not interested in staying.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

October 25, 2018

The Birds Migrating Through
Are Getting WET!
October 25, 2018

Female Lesser Goldfinch

What amazing weather we have had for the last couple of months.  It always seems to rain in late August or early September about the time school starts.  The last few months have been very wet for South Texas while in other parts of the state that have been suffering from long term drought, now, flooding rains just keep coming.  There are so many jokes on Facebook about Texans and the way we deal with the rains; the jokes have been funny, and almost true.
Male Wilson's Warbler

If you know much about Texas, you know that we love our What-a-Burger hamburgers.  There are photos (altered photos) that may show a submarine, or a canoe, or a row boat, in an apartment complex parking lot with a caption saying something like, "Anybody need anything?  I am going to What-a-Burger."  The losses that people are suffering may in some cases take a lifetime to recover from, but sometimes you just have to laugh to keep from crying.
Gray Catbird - There have been several 
of these in the yard recently

For the last week, our area has had some rain and lots of clouds and cooler weather.  This is rare for October in South Texas.  Trees are rapidly growing.  They think it is spring.  I saw several that are in full bloom which normally happens in the spring and here we are in the middle of autumn.  One of our sons and his wife have a home in San Antonio, which originally had a small oak tree in the front yard, as did most of the homes in their subdivision.  It has been VERY slow growing as they have had years of little rain.  This year the tree is suddenly taller than their 2-story house and is casting too much shade on the neighbor's front porch.  Our son needs to trim it as soon as the yard dries out enough to let him put a ladder up without it sinking into the very moist soil.
Juvenile Baltimore Oriole

Here, every time I look out into the backyard, I start singing a line from the theme song for the TV series Monk, that says, "It's a jungle out there!"  We just keep trying to trim trees and shrubs when it is not raining, and during that chore, we battle the mosquitoes.
Yellow-throated Warbler

Bird migration has been a little different this year.  The birds seem to like the weather.  Currently none of our waterfalls are operating and they really miss those.  There are several types of warbles that love to just play in the water for what seems like hours.  Instead they are having to settle for the bird bath which is fine with me since it is closer to the house and I can enjoy watching them.  A couple of weeks ago it seemed like the yard was filled with assorted little yellow birds.
Female Golden-fronted Woodpecker

Our daughter-in-law from New Mexico has just left after being here for the last two and a half weeks.  She spent time with my mom while my mom's helper was out of town.  Then spent time with our daughter-in-law and our grandchildren in McAllen while our son was out of town.  Then came to our house and spent her days with Ron's mom while I was at work.   This past Saturday, we took her to San Antonio to catch a much cheaper flight to her home and spent a good part of the day there with our son and his wife who live in San Antonio.  We are so blessed to have spent time with so much of our family during these last few weeks.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird

In addition to our children and grandchildren, my brother and his wife have been in and out of town a lot recently and my sister from Ft. Worth has made several trips down here to help Mom out and to visit.  This time of the year is filled with birthdays and assorted celebrations and we have done lots of eating out and birthday dinners.  There are still a bunch to come in the next few weeks.
Juvenile Blue Grosbeak
All of that brings me to dealing with my hearing limitations.  We are a big, happy family.  We love to chat and laugh.  We seem to all do it at once.  That is overwhelming to me in my hearing situation.  I am so very thankful for my Cochlear implant, and never want to seem ungrateful for it restoring to me, so many of the sounds in our world.  I just can't take ALL of them at once.

Juvenile Baltimore Oriole

Sometimes I retreat to the kitchen to work on the dishes when the house is filled with sounds, and normally one person at a time will wander through and stop to chat for a while.  Currently our 15 year old granddaughter loves to come help in the kitchen.  We have had some wonderful talks in the last few weeks.  She is such a joy to be around, as are all the grandchildren.
Yellow-throated Warbler

We just don't see how the weeks can get any busier than they are, but they do continue to get jam packed.  The weeks ahead will be busy, but it is a great time of the year and a time for hearing from friends who are scattered and who are also sometimes too busy to write.  I am already wondering where my sewing room Christmas tree will go since I added a piece of  furniture in its spot recently.

I will be going to Houston the end of November for my annual check up with the audiologist.  I feel that the quality of the hearing is not what it was in the beginning with the Cochlear implant, but maybe it is other factors going on that make it seem that way.  I find I don't want noise lots of time, and just turn off the sound on the TV or remove the sound processor.  Maybe that is a factor; I may not be using it as much as I should.  I don't know, but we will see what she has to say soon.
Yellow-throated Warbler

My computer at home died so I can only write my blog when I am at the office.  I need to find time to replace the computer at home.  The week following the computer crash, my phone died and it has really been challenging to learn a new one, but I like it.  I guess I can still learn a few new tricks, thanks to our family members who have better technology products and skills than I do.

Juvenile Baltimore Oriole

As always, if you think I have the wrong identification on one of the birds, let me know.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

September 20, 2018

Being Grandparents 
Can be a Lot of Fun
September 20, 2018

What a delightful time Ron and I spent with family this past weekend.  Our second oldest son and his family live about an hour and 15 minute drive from us.  Our son and his wife wanted to take two of their children to see a Broadway style musical for the evening.  We were asked to care for their youngest 6 children at their home for the evening.  Knowing they would be very late coming home they suggested we stay over night in their guest room.

We did stay over and then stayed for the day.  It was 6:00 Saturday evening when I got home and Ron had stopped at the nursing home to see his mom, so it was 7:30 or so when he got home.  The kids were great.  They played for hours with one another.  One of the girls had started piano lessons this year and played a couple of little tunes for me while her brother who is next oldest in line to her also played several pieces for me.  Another of the children played for me at another time.
The oldest of the girls was helping one of her 
little sisters learn some new ballet moves.

Ballet classes had started for the fall and three of the girls are taking those lessons this year.  One of those three showed off what she was learning and her oldest sister helped her out with additional moves.  There are always so many things going on at their house and it was fun to just spend Saturday, just watching them be kids.  Swimming lessons start in a little while for the twins and then after a couple of weeks, several of the others will join in on the lessons.  Several of the kids are now doing Kung Fu and loving it. 
During Morning Family time,each of the
 children shared scriptures they had memorized.

We participated in their  morning family time where they sang, Mom read a story, they recited memory work they had been learning (one of the 4 year old twins recited several verses with complete confidence and then accepted Mom's coaching on others that she was still learning).  While this was going on, several played with toys quietly on the floor.  Right now they are focused on Psalm 1 in their Bible reading and reciting.  There was play time and several of the kids worked on illustrating the story  Mom had read.  There was prayer time and general happiness throughout the room.  It was good to be able to be a part of their day.
One of the girls with Nacho their pet donkey

Something interesting happened Sunday, related to my Cochlear implant.  As I was sitting at church before the service started, a lady came up, smiling at me like I should know her.  I did not recognize her, but she introduced herself and it was her voice I first recognized.  This was a high school friend who visits our church sometimes when a friend invites her to a special musical program.  The lady sat with me during the service since the friend who invited her is in the choir.  We spent time chatting and catching up with each other's lives.  And to me, the interesting part of recognizing her voice is that I often have trouble recognizing voices on the phone, but when I recognized hers, I recalled the same thing happening another time recently.  There was a person I did not recognize as I looked at her, but the voice confirmed who it was.  I am glad I am am able to recognize a friend from many years ago by the voice.  Thank you, Cochlear!
Picture one of our granddaughters did for me.
I think she knows me well!

This weekend was time for a couple of high school reunions here in Brownsville.  One was my brother and his wife's class; it was their 55th year reunion.  They came to town for the weekend and had spent time with my mom while Ron and I were in McAllen.  Another reunion going on was my youngest sister and her husband's class.  I don't recall what year their class was celebrating.  We had lunch Sunday with my brother, his wife and Mom.  My sister and her husband are staying at South Padre Island and did not come into town Sunday.  They will be here another week or more, so I hope to see them during that time.

The last couple of months since my last posting have been very busy for us.  Really more so for my husband.  When I wrote my last blog, Ron's mother had just been moved to a nursing/rehab hospital.  She made a little progress there, but very little.  She ended up going to another nursing home where she has now been for several weeks.  It is not too far from our home and is probably the newest one in town.  It is a nice place without the usual smells of many nursing homes.  She is fairly content there.  The food is not to her choice, but other than that, the care seems to be very good and she is looking healthy and other than her general weakness, she is doing well.

Ron has spent countless hours checking on her, spending time with her in the evenings, running errands for her, checking on insurance, and other financial things.  We are so blessed that even though she is weak physically, she is alert mentally and always wants updates on children and grandchildren and great grandchildren.  One of our sons sends almost daily photos of their toddler and she delights in seeing those.

I continue to do sewing whenever I have the time and energy.  I have just gotten another one back from the lady who machine quilts many of my quilts.  This one just came  back.

Speaking of that toddler, he has been sick this week and keeps running fever.  Sunday evening they called me on my cell phone with a video connection.  I was able to chat with him (and his parents) for a little bit.  He joined in the conversation saying hi, throwing kisses, saying a few more words and giving me a precious bye, bye.  It is hard to live so far from him but we are so thankful for the almost daily photos so we see how much he is growing and what his current interests are.

Our zinnia plants continue to produce lots of beautiful blooms.  The mosquitoes love to attack me when I am out there picking them.  They are producing hundreds of flowers.  At this point, I think I have picked about 2,700 this summer and there are well over 100 waiting to be picked.  It was been raining a lot the last two weeks.  At our house we have had close to 8 inches of rain during those two weeks.  Everything is rapidly growing.  Ron had spent time trimming trees before the rains and will need to do it again as soon as things dry out a little more.
Flooded intersection on my way home from work

The rains were needed and at lunch Sunday, my brother and I were talking about how green everything is.  I told him I have not seen a brown yard in town.  He said all the way from Corpus Christi coming down here, things were beautifully green.  Trees are putting out new growth like it is spring and things are blooming again.  It doesn't take a lot of rain to turn this area green but the amount we have gotten, is creating a jungle.  This last rain was from a tropical wave that came across the Gulf of Mexico.  Great way to get rain without hurricane winds.  There was a storm headed our way, but it weakened the last couple of days.  They think if it restrengthens, it will head to the upper Texas coast and not our area in South Texas.
Quilt I just recently put binding on.

I have been sewing some the last few weeks.  I finished one quilt top and my friend Dolores machine quilted it for me this past week.  I finished the binding on another one and have several in progress.  One of my problems with quilting is that there are so many beautiful, fun patterns available, that I just can't stay focused on only one.
This is one I currently playing with

A few weeks ago I spent three days with the grandchildren in McAllen.  Their mom was on a trip to see her dad. Their oldest daughter had cut out a dress to make (her first attempt to make clothing) and she wanted my help.  We worked on it.  She did the sewing and I helped her understand the directions on the pattern. 
Dress making in progress

It was not as specific as I remembered patterns when I used to make clothing (before I started making quilts).  She sewed, I directed and she did an amazing job of making her first dress.  She has now gotten material for a second one.  We will need to get together soon.  She is also eager to finish her quilt that she started a couple of years ago and set aside.  Her younger sister started her quilt at the same time and finished hers and has had it on her bed for a long time.
Granddaughter with her first dress that she made.

So, as you can see, life stays busy and we stay happy and pretty healthy.  I did find out from my brother, that a high school classmate had gotten a Cochlear implant recently and also the friend's wife got one.  Interesting.  We were in high school band together and he sat a couple of rows behind me.  I am so glad he has now been able to have his hearing greatly improved. Way to go, Larry!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

July 26, 2018

Life Is Back to Normal
July 26, 2018

Back in the middle of June, I had spent hours on writing a new blog entry and adding photos.  Then,  as I was adding the last photo and trying to center one caption, the entire blog disappeared!  I tried everything I knew to do, and my husband tried, but it seems to be lost in cyber space.  Oh, well.  Back to the start.  I know just enough about computers to get myself into trouble.  The program provided by the blog support automatically backs up the blog about every minute or two.  It had just backed it up and then, poof!  The page was blank.  Things like that are "normal" for me. 
These are the 7 arrangements I made this evening 
after picking zinnias from our garden spot.

It has been just over 5 years since my Cochlear Implant surgery.  About three weeks later, I returned to Houston to have the system activated.  The surgery and the activation were the beginning steps to returning my life to as near normal as possible.  At the time, I had read most of the things I could find about the surgery.  One thing was that after activation, I would see improvement for a couple of years and then it would sort of level out and after that, there would be very little change.  I find that not to be the case.  My perception of music is still changing for the better. It is still not great, but it is better than in the beginning.  But strangely, the music I have heard in my head for 5 1/2 years, is disappearing.  When I do hear it, it is usually very soft.  I miss it.

At the beginning of the summer, my husband and I thought we were looking at a long boring summer.  Several of the grandchildren were going to be out of town for various events.  Our son with the large family, took them all (except the oldest who is spending his summer in Michigan working with a church there) on a two week vacation to places we used to take our boys.  It was hard to see them have fun at all the places we loved to visit while we stayed home, but we were delighted that they were able to make the trip. Then there was Vacation Bible School for them, church camp and a mission trip for three of them.

In early July, our third son came for several days.  This family had things going on that kept them at home, but we had a good visit with our son.  Later in July, our youngest son who did not think he and his family (he, his wife, and their 17 month old son) could make the trip this summer, but were able to come for several days and we had a delightful time with them.  Next our daughter-in-law from New Mexico will be coming for a week toward the end of August.  All of these visits have been unexpected treats!  Also, my sisters and my brother have made trips to see mom and we have been able to enjoy their visits.

Our summer has been filled with much more activity than expected and my house is almost clean now.  I need motivation to get some things done, and having company helps me get my house cleaner.  With a toddler coming, that took a different kind of cleaning.  Not only did the floors need to be vacuumed, but the house needed to be sort of child-proofed.  He still managed to find things that I had overlooked, but he was good about handing them over without fussing.  He is a delightful little guy and he enjoyed watching the birds in the yard as much as I do.  He would say "Bird" and point each time he spotted one.  It seemed his vocabulary grew each day he was here and it was so much fun to watch and HEAR him.

In with the fun activities of the summer, we have had some that weren't as fun.  My husband's mother has spent the last 10 days or so in the hospital and was just transferred to a nursing home for about 10 days to see if they can get her to be able to stand without falling.  She had taken several falls before going to the hospital and thankfully she did not break anything.  She usually goes down very slowly, but then can not get up.  Ron has been spending several hours a day at the hospital and I am sure he will do the same at the nursing home.  His sister will be coming about the time she goes home from the nursing home to help out for a week or two.

During this summer I did a two night testing at the hospital for sleep apnea.  I was to see the doctor today for results and they called yesterday to say they do not have the results yet, so changed the appointment to a month away.   Other than that, I really have not had too many doctor appointments this summer.

In early June, Ron and I made a trip to San Antonio for a high school graduation ceremony for our honorary granddaughter.  She will be starting college this fall and like her brother who just finished his second year of college, they will both be at UTSA (University of Texas at San Antonio).  Our son Dave and his wife will have an empty nest this fall and that will be a real change for them.  The kids (our daughter-in-law's niece and nephew) have lived with them for about 7 years.

Ron has done a lot of yard work this summer, but it has been too hot and too mosquito infested for me to be outside much.  The 10 1/2 inches of rain we had about a month ago really brought out the mosquitoes.  Ron planted several patches of zinnias, but only 3 of them have produced and the best one is where we had a patch a couple of years ago.  As always, I enjoy cutting the flowers and bringing them inside and also sharing them with family.

I have also had a few miniature 
roses blooming since the rains.

Deep South Texas has experienced unusually hot weather the last couple of weeks.  Brownsville gets the Gulf breezes which usually keep us in the low 90s in the late summer, but a couple of days ago it was 104!  Yuck!  Thankfully my days are normally spent indoors with the air-conditioner working overtime!.  Hope your summer has been good.  

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.
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