Tuesday, April 18, 2017

We're not in Kansas anymore.....

As I settle down for the night on April 8, 2017, I finally get down to my VERY late blog.  And as wonderfully different as Yosemite National Park is from Mercedes, TX, I must return to Texas mentally for the briefest moment in time that it will take me to update you, my loyal readers.

The learning curve of life is steep.  It was when we were in our youth, and it remains the same still today.  Circumstances will change things in the blink of an eye.  We knew this when we hit the road almost 5 years ago now.  We didn't know then what we know now, and we don't know today what we will know tomorrow.  Part of this uncertainty is what fuels our drive.  Still, we recognized early on that we wouldn't be able to keep on moving every 3-5 months forever, and the need to choose 2 locations to remain still (1 for winter, 1 for summer) and "settle", is always at the back of our minds.  Choosing the summer location was early and easy:  Gunnison, CO.  BEAUTIFUL, temperate and NO, NO bugs!  Winter was another story.  It was just a passing fancy to accept this current, WORKAMPER position at Llano Grande in Mercedes, Texas.  A fling to see if we would like it.  LIKE it we do, and it is a strong contender to become our permanent "winter" home, even if we stay "on the road" April-October.

Here are a few of the reasons south Texas is so appealing:

 William , Olivia and Ben

extended family is so close in San Antonio that we can go to them 
( Thanksgiving )

William and I playing with the train

Me, Jane, Bill Server and Tim at Cortino's
And they can come to us:-)

  The birding is phenomenal!

Brown Pelican
Cause we are so close to the beach (1.5 hour).

Brown Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron
And Estero State Park                                                                                     
Great Kiskadee

Great Horned Owl

Our 5th winter here on the road, and it turns out to be our warmest winter yet...
Jane and I up on the levee (oh we had fun getting down!)

making short sleeves and shorts the wardrobe of the day.  Yep, far and away our warmest winter yet.  As I write this (Feb. 1st), I am sitting on the patio enjoying the 83 degree temps.  This feels great, but will I feel this way a month from now when the day time temps are running over 90?  Still, I have no reason to complain!  


#1:  The cost of living down here is very low, the least expensive place to live we have encountered.

 At FREE or really inexpensive, going out is more enjoyable...
Greg, Tim Jane, Me, Bill having a FREE meal at the Grand Lux Cafe in Austin thanks to Cheesecake Factory VP Greg

 #2:  Another reason:  going to Mexico for dental work:

For example: cleaning and an x-ray= $30.00.  Back at home that would have been $150 easy.

#3:  AND, Mexico was convenient for buying medication at a 

VERY low cost.  
  Rory and Bill took advantage of it.

#4:  The people in this park are very nice, as well as the culture, outside of the park.  We want for nothing, pools

hot tub

 Sewing Bee, who also have a long arm sewing machine.

Wood Shop where Bill was assigned to "work".

Art Studio

Fitness room

Event Center (with restaurant)The EC is also the home to many dances.... 

                         And Concerts, too many to mention.... 
Richard Lynch Band

Nuff said
Bellamy Brothers
Goldwing Express

Richard Lynch band
J.C. Harrison

And how could this not be my 
Jason Wharlow performed with both his 5 yr. old 

                  and 3 yr. old daughters....so much fun!


and Bill had a nice talk with Jason during intermission.  

Jason also brought "Inga" up on stage during his "comic" routine...
it was hysterical!

There are dances and/or concerts most Friday and Saturday nights.  This one with David Wharlow (The Piano Man) did not generate many tickets sales (though he should have).  With only 68 of us in attendance the atmosphere in the auditorium was like a family.  Jason's wife and little girls mingled with all of us.  Jason did a great job, his 5 year old sang with confidence from Dad's lap.  Then Jason's 3 yr. old ran exuberantly up on stage, leaping with glee onto his lap.  She began to sing, when about halfway thru her song Bill leaned over to me and whispered "her Dad made a key change and she picked up on it"....  I can't even do THAT!

My fav "dance" was "Diego", who performed on a regular basis... he was a fun guy!

Now, I must make special mention of that restaurant at Llano Grande Event Center, since we spent so much money there.  That is why Cafe Grande is my RESTAURANT OF THE MONTH!

Their hours are somewhat limited, but I can tell you we never had a bad meal there.
The café offers:
Breakfast                         Monday – Friday               7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Lunch                               Monday – Friday               11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Evening Buffet                Wednesday, Thursday   4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Lunch Buffet                   Friday, 11:00 to 1:00 p.m.

#5:  We're making new friends:

 Brian and Edmee (our 1st Canadian friends).  Brian was a great birding guide , but they had to return to Canada after a month:-(

Bob and Debby (native Kansans) who have introduced us to many fabulous people:  like Ken and Carla  (who we ran into everywhere we went...including the dentist office in Mexico)

LOVE these guys!

Bill and Linda(R) (here pictured with Jane (my sister in Law) and me after church.

  Dave and Becky...so fun!

 The list goes on.....

 And we end the season with Deb (3rd on right) and Bob's (5th on right...next to Linda's husband Bill) anniversary/St. Patrick's day celebration.  I suspect several of these couples are destined to become lifelong (well, for the rest of it anyway) friends.

Friends we made thru Deb and Bob were not the only friends we made.   We made many friends on our own:  

We worked with Denise and Terry, who are going to teach us to dance next winter......

And Lori and Ron, who are dog lovers too.

And speaking of dog lovers, we're not the only one making friends:

Max and Tessa played independently 

 Tessa and Molly got along great!

Maverick was a beautiful boy!  

As was Scotty

But these two, ehhh  

Meeting fellow canines is great, but these humans....YEA!!!!

 Unfortunately after every play date at the "dog park" Mom makes me take a bath at the doggie wash station.  But it's worth it :-)

And FYI, Bill has started a series on Facebook called "Tessa chronicles".  If you haven't been privy to this series, you're missing out.  I am trying to encourage him to use this blog as a new vehicle, that more of Tessa's friends can enjoy these wonderful stories.

A few examples:
The Tessa Chronicles; it took quite abit of cajoling and charming but I managed to get dad to drive us, ( mom & aunt Rory & me ) up to Johnson city to revisit the LBJ boyhood home and also the ranch, while we were here in San Antonio for the week end. I was walking around the property and it so reminded me of when we were here two years ago. I like it whenever we are like dad says 'on the approach' to a place we are going to stop at, he always lowers my window so I can stand on the arm rest of the door and stick my head out to pick up all the scents and fragrances. That's the best!
The Tessa Chronicles; New Years Eve, so dad says that we'll be able to watch the fireworks displays from up here on the levee tonight, I'm just going to wait & see.....

Image may contain: dog, sky, plant, outdoor, nature and water

The Tessa Chronicles cont. so I wait all this time and yes we could see 19 different locations where fireworks are erupting but they're so far away I can't sometimes even hear them. Oh well, Happy New Year to all my friends, Scruffy Deau, & Butters & Bella & Sandy & Macky & Gus & of course Elsa & Rosa!🐾

The Tessa Chronicles; (game recap) What! Wait, what happened? I doze off for a minute or two and suddenly the football stadium is awash in confetti and the Patriots have won somehow. How is that possible?
I'm going to try to talk dad into taking me for a walk and maybe he can explain what I missed.

The Tessa Chronicles: Day 2... ok dad mom has left me in charge while she went to the grocer. According to this gadget here you're running along about 120 over 60, temp is 97.5, and your hemo / oxygen is 97%. I know you're not about to tell me what your pain scale is cause you probably think it's macho to smile & pretend it's nothin worth being concerned about. Fine! But you just stay right there for the next few days with your sorry ass planted on the couch till I tell you to get up! Got it? Mess with me mom,  I will hide your Merlot! How do you like those dog biscuits you big oaf? 🐾
Thinking of making it a "monthly column"???????

Catching up:  Thanksgiving fell right after my last blog update.  on December 19th my sister Rory arrived for a 10 day visit.  it's always fun to have her come by, we plan and do so many more things than if it was just us 2 homebodies.  It turned out to be a real benefit that her flight was delayed several hours.  That allowed Bill and I to locate the favorite hotspot for all Llano Grande quilters:  The Calico Junction.  With the hour, or so, we had there before she shut the doors (45 minutes late), I found enough projects to fill my entire year.  
When the projects are ready, I will then finish them on the Llano Grande Quilters Bee longer machine:

 This brand new machine arrived and I was on it within the week, quilting my "Trusty Triangles" project.  From the day I chose the fabrics this quilt has made me feel happy.  These bright colors are so uplifting every time I look at them.  Thus, the quilt has been named "Happy Days at Llano Grande".  I have gone back and forth trying to decide what to do with this quilt.  Who do I give it to?  Who would love it the way I do?  Ultimately I have decided to keep it for Bill and I, at least for now.

That is why my showing of this (almost) completed quilt is...

This  quilt was the culmination of my winters work at Llano Grande, thanks to all the women there, who teach and encourage us newbies.  Thanks to them,  I learned to quilt faster, and take on smaller projects that can be quickly completed.  The result will benefit more than just us come holiday time:

 2x3 Pressing Pad with pouch for rulers

"Vera Bradley" type bag 

"Friendship Braid" Table Runner

 My first paper piecing job.

Not bad for 4 months worth of work!

Speaking of Bill's hobbies, for 5 years he has made me crazy hauling my old guitar around the country.  I figured it took up way too much space, and no one was using it.
 Overtime I suggest we leave it in storage, Bill insists he is using it, learning how to play, and would miss it terribly. 
 So, we kept hauling it.  At Llano Grande one of our benefits is the Friday afternoon jam session with Mel Ellis.  Bill started attending and these lessons started to pay off.  After several weeks of this Bill happened to mention that his hand really hurt trying to reach around the fairly wide neck of my old guitar.
 My response ....."well, if you're going to stay serious about this,  you're going to have to get a guitar that fits you.  Off to the Guitar Center we went after church on Sunday.  
To offset the cost and storage space issue I decided to put my old guitar up for sale on the Llano Grande virtual Garage Sale website.  In 1 hour I had a nibble.  Apparently this old guitar is a much desired "classic" acoustic guitar.  By that afternoon we were meeting a nice hispanic man and his son who were making the purchase for his church. Wish I could have afforded to donate the guitar.
Bill is progressing well:  

And speaking of Sunday....going out for lunch with our new buds has become regular thing.  Bob and Debby not only introduced us to all these neat people, but also to their neat church:  Living Word E. Free in Pharr, TX. 

Pastor Rueben 
is a gifted and fiery preacher with whom we felt an immediate bond.  The worship music is perfect.  Led by Nathan, who is a magical instrumentalist, the music is a perfect blend of old "hymns" and contemporary stuff.  It is this combination that makes Living Word the best preaching and worship music we have experienced in a long time.

We have felt such "community" down in S. Texas.  A lot of people assume that because we move so often, that we don't develop that sense of being part of a "hood" and/or a group of friends.  But that is not our reality.  Here is an example (Readers Digest version).....

2 RV's down from us Clyde (69 yrs old) falls off a ladder while washing his RV.  While I stabilized his neck, a nearby nurse arrives to begin an assessment, Bill calls the medics, two other neighbors help Clydes wife get to the hospital, and they assist her with transportation for the next 4 weeks.  

So, yes, we do have community.  Here at Llano Grande Bill and I have also found real homes in our respective hobbies
 (Bill-woodworking).  It is in the shop where he has been working for the past several weeks since being transferred from the Activities desk with me, that Bill has found a real sense of belonging.  In addition, while serving the woodworkers there, he has been able to complete more of the ongoing customization of our "home".  

And  Jan, quilting, as previously mentioned.  The women in this guild have provided me education, support, inspiration and camaraderie.  As well as, the courage to "show" my pieces at the end of the year "Show and Tell"

Just a few of my fellow quilters. 

These new "homes" Bill and I have found are a HUGE part of why we have decided Llano Grande may well become or "winter home".  We will return as "workampers" for now.  Eventually we will slow down and then we will likely buy a space and settle in as residents.

Something like this

  In this area of the park

One of the fun things we experience at Llano are the various excuses for regularly scheduled "golf cart parades", but we often see unique carts on the streets everyday.

Or, on the funny side...a cart being driven by someone who should probably be walking, with his/her dog running alongside on a leash getting their exercise.

One guy transports his elderly Golden on a cart behind his bike,

but dog walking by golf cart is much more common.

Medical:  as with Virginia and Wisconsin, Bill had to have some skingraft surgery.  He has now had skin graft surgery in 3 states in 3 years: Virginia, Wisconsin and Texas.  He hasn't let it get in the way of our work.  His fav doc was in Virginia.  Needless to say he has to start protecting his legs better.  The good news is that we have been able to find good doctors all over the country...PTL!
Gotta love the clothing choices 

This last doc in Texas  didn't believe in hyperbaric, but he didn't tell Bill that until after the surgery.  Despite that, the newest grafts look like they are going to take.

Just before his surgery we squeezed in one last trip to the beach:  riding a horse on the beach has always been on my bucket list....Riding a zip line has always been on Bill's.  Two things checked off the bucket list when we went to South Padre Island for the day:

 The group was large, and there were kids, so, no letting them out

 But that allowed us to talk and take pix:-)

The ride was followed by one of us satisfying a need to get up high and go fast (that would NOT be me!)

How could we top all that?  A boat ride to view the dolphins.....

And see dolphins we did

And in between, some time with the pelicans

And yes, this guys situation looked dire, but he flew away, so I guess he's doing OK.  Just a reminder: be careful what you throw away...including balloons you let fly.

With all the sewing going on, a roll or two of thread was bound to escape to the floor.  Tessa would never touch my expensive thread !

  She looks so innocent, doesn't she?


1 Corinthians 12New International Reader's Version (NIRV)

Gifts of the Holy Spirit (EDITED)

12 Brothers and sisters, I want you to know about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. ....
There are different kinds of gifts. But they are all given to believers by the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve. But they all come from the same Lord. There are different ways the Spirit works. But the same God is working in all these ways and in all people.

The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. 10 To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. 11 All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides.

During this I blog spoke about some of Bill and my talents, and Yes, they are God given, but the real value lies in the Spiritual gifts God has given us.  Do you know what your gifts are???  Find out and live life to the fullest!

Until next time my friends!

April 17, 2017

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