No Wall!

WEATHER: Another nasty day – cold (50s) and rain

LOCATION: Our tiny house in Mission, Texas

Enough of this bad weather!

We attended a rally against the Wall. It was quite interesting. Apparently the Homeland Security has not allowed any Town Hall for public discussion, so this group created their own Town Hall. It was held outside, right across from the Border Patrol station.

Unless something changes, the construction in this area of the Wall is scheduled to begin in February. On the cutting board are: 1) our next door neighbor…..a state park/national bird sanctuary, 2) the national butterfly center, and 3) a darling Catholic mission church built in 1899 which was the origins of our town Mission. In addition to the ugly wall, they will clear 150 feet of land on either side of the Wall, ruining farms and hurting wild life. So sad!

After the rally, we visited a few Open Houses in our neighborhood. It is fun to see how people have upgraded their homes.

DINNER: A new recipe that would be great on a campfire…

Make an aluminum foil packet and stuff it with sausage (I used the last of our Louisiana andouille sausage), lots of green pepper strips, fresh oregano, finely diced celery, and a drizzle of olive oil and beer (secret ingredient). We cooked ours on our gas grill, but when camping, they could be tossed directly on the coals.

Unpleasant day…

LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, Texas

WEATHER: Cold and rainy

Not a good day today. The high temps are in the 50s, and it has drizzled most of the day. Cold wind, too. And wouldn’t you know….the weather has been terrific, sunny and in the 80s, and now in a few days our daughter from Minnesota is coming to visit, with hopes of swimming and sunbathing, and it is miserable. Just hope the weather improves next week.

I woke up with bites all over my hands. Very sore and terribly itchy. I had spotted a few ants on the counter yesterday, and a few must have bitten me. Then, for lunch, I opened a bag of croutons and out poured hundreds of them. They swarmed all over me. They are fire ants – the worst kind!!!! We don’t know how they are coming in, but George got on the ladder to spray insecticide and to caulk every tiny crack he could find.

Meanwhile, my hand has swollen up and I am miserable.

The internet wasn’t working very well in the club house, so we went to a McDonalds to use theirs. While we were out, we got our flu shots. Not only did we get them free, thanks to Medicare, but we also received a $5 Target coupon each. 🙂

Swim class was canceled due to the cold, but I dutifully did two classes of line-dancing.

DINNER: Leftover French onion soup. Perfect soup weather!

Crazy Wednesday

As I’ve mentioned before, the butterflies are just amazing. They love some of the bushes around our house. Early this morning, I found one who was still asleep next to my basil plant.

After breakfast, I left the house at 9:00 and didn’t return until 4:30. Wednesday is the busiest day of the week, as far as my activities. Almost like work!

At the clubhouse, I first caught up on email. The clubhouse is all decked out for Thanksgiving.

First up was yoga. The instructor is very good. We did a lot of stretching – I’m sure I will feel it tomorrow! From there, I changed into my swimsuit and did two hours of water aerobics. Wow! After quickly showering at the clubhouse shower and changing, I joined other ladies for two hours of chatting at Wine Wednesday. Since I was so pooped out and parched, I sipped on club soda rather than imbibing on anything stronger. By then, it was after 4:00, and time to return home.

We met our new neighbors. They will be moving here from Portland, Oregon and will travel during the summer months. It almost seems like the houses morph overnight from this…..

……to this…..

There are about 5 more houses under construction in the development. Some are like hours, others are “regular” houses, and others are port homes – the kind that have gigantic, tall garages where owners park their motor homes. We are glad the community stays vibrant.

DINNER: Shrimp/sausage gumbo. Using the andouille sausage I had bought in Louisiana and some local shrimp, I cooked up a big batch. I added file pepper, also purchased in Louisiana, and okra. I think it was pretty authentic. I foresee leftovers in our future!

Texas Two-Stepping!

We worked all morning, me focusing on the computer, and George waxing and buffing the truck.

Then, time to play….. We first drove by a ‘questionable” bar called the Junkyard. Several people have told us that it is a fun place to go when they have music. It is located literally right on the Mexican border. It is surrounded by government land next to the Rio Grande levy. (We took this photo next to a big “no trespassing’ sign. We didn’t stop at the Junkyard today, but maybe another time.

The Riverside Club (www.ontheriver.net) was next on our agenda. We checked out a riverboat cruise that leaves from there, that we might take when our daughter visits us.

They were having a “Welcome Back, Winter Texans” bash in their dancehall. We watched the dancers – Many seemed to be older Midwesterners – as reflected from the license plates in the parking lot from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ontario. Some can barely move, but I give them credit for getting out and having a good time….

….You can easily spot the locals, wearing cowboy hats and boots gracefully circling around the floor doing the Texas Two Step.

Speaking of cowboys……

After all of that excitement, we came back home and relaxed, me with a book and George with a football game.

Then, enjoying the beautiful evening temperature, we sat outside on the driveway and sipped on a margarita.

DINNER: A variation of chicken parmesan: I layered roasted chicken slices in a baking dish, then added cooked broccoli, canned tomatoes in their juice, lots of oregano and basil, then a layer of cheese and dotted with croutons. I baked until cheese was melted and croutons were toasted. Easy peesy and good.

Butterflies!

Note to a faithful blog reader (my brother)……We live in the tiny house while we are here. For some reason we can’t get PBS over the air in the house, but we can get it in the Airstream. So, most evenings, we saunter over to the Airstream and watch PBS news and any other good PBS programs. When we have houseguests, we give them the option – either sleep in the Airstream or the tiny house bedroom. Come check it out!!!

Today’s news……

A busy Saturday….After a morning full of two line dancing classes and a water aerobics class, we visited the National Butterfly Center, which is right next door. They were celebrating a Community Day, so entrance was free. :-).

There were millions of butterflies flying around. In their visitor center, they chart the number of species spotted each day. 66 different ones in the month of October. Amazing! I didn’t know that there are that many different kinds!

It was also fun to watch the people watching the butterflies. Many are very serious and spend hours gazing at and photographing butterflies.

We did our part….

This one was so tame that George almost petted it…

Butterflies make their annual migration right through this area, from Mexico to the Northeast USA and Canada, with others to California. Unfortunately, the “Wall” is slated to go right through this center. Speaking of the Wall, every night, all night long, we hear the helicopters of Border Patrol. They have been recently supplemented by the National Guard due to the migrant caravan. Crazy!

The town of Mission’s symbol is the butterfly, so you see butterfly sculptures all over town. This is the one at our village’s entrance….

Later, I went to the Mission library, and this is in front of it…

At the library, I typed and printed cover letters, explanations, and French/English translations of all the Quebec medical bills that we need to submit to insurance companies. It is a very nice library and the staff are super friendly and helpful (in both Spanish and English, of course)

DINNER: Asian noodles. I made a big batch of vegetable stir-fry (frozen Asian vegetables, onions, garlic, and ginger), along with bits of leftover frozen pork chops. I cooked in a sauce of chicken broth, sesame oil, and soy sauce. I served it over soba (Japanese buckwheat noodles). Sprinkled with sesame seeds. As they say in Japan…..oishikata!

Let the fun begin…..

We have been in our tiny house for about a week. Life has been busy, with cleaning and getting set up again in the house. We have enjoyed reuniting with friends and have had a few couples over to chat. I have joined a new, daily “high impact” water aerobics class plus I’ve continued with another swimming class that is less serious. Tomorrow, I’m going to check out line dancing classes. That, plus running errands and doctors’ appointments for George have kept us running.

Since we retired in 2013 and hit the road, we have used a mail-forwarding service based in Sioux Falls. We use that as our address, and each month the company forwards our mail to us, to wherever we happen to be at the time. Yesterday, we received our October mail package, and it was unusually big. Why? The Canadian hospital bills have started to arrive! Let the fun begin! We started sorting them all out to figure out how to submit them to Medicare and to our secondary insurance, Mayo Clinic. Since the Canadians don’t bill their own residents, the billing system is quite different. Not much is itemized, so we are afraid that Medicare will automatically deny them. Once all of the bills have arrived, and insurance has been paid, I will write about the total, as many people have asked me how much it all cost and how much was covered by insurance. Twenty-seven days in a hospital plus 2 ambulances, plus air ambulance, plus lots of procedures including the triple bypass surgery will certainly add up! So far, it is obvious that it is much less expensive than in the USA .

We sneak in some fun stops as we run our errands. Mission is located in the Rio Grande Valley (called the RGV). There are several small cities, each with about a population of 100,000 that run together – Mission, McAllen, Edinburg, and Pharr. Today we were near Pharr for an appointment, so stopped at a microbrewery there. Pretty good.

Back home in the evening, we sat outside and watched the thousands of butterflies, flying near to the trees and bushes, as well as those way up in the sky. Amazing. I made my “special recipe” margaritas. So much better than the pre-made mix.

DINNER: Black bean burgers tucked into a tortilla with picante sauce, cheese, grilled onions and mushrooms, and lettuce. Bueno!

Retirement keeps us busy!

We are spending some time in our tiny house in Mission, Texas. Our community has a lot of activities available. Today was full of events I was interested in…..

I left the house at 9:45, prepared for all the activities (change of clothes, drinks, name tags, etc).

First was a one-hour yoga class. It is a beginner class (good for me). We each pay $5 for the instructor who is very good.

Then, a quick dash inside the clubhouse to change into my swimsuit. I did a one-hour “high intensity” water aerobics class, followed by a 45-minute fun, upbeat class. My hands were certainly shriveled after both classes!

Then, another quick dash to shower and change back to regular clothes, just in time to join “Wine Wednesday”. It is about a 2-hour informal get-together. I brought club soda instead of wine, as I knew I would be parched.

Returning home at 4:00 (after being gone since 9:45), we jumped in the car and went to the mall to get our eyes tested and new glasses ordered. Mine were terribly scratched up, due to normal wear, then worsened when I ran into the trailer awning one day last week. Ouch! The children were trick-or-treating in the mall. Cute!

Then, time to relax. We went to one of our favorite restaurants called Loretto (www.thelorettobistro.com) for happy hour. They were offering bottles of wine half price. We shared some wine and crab cakes on the patio…

DINNER: Frozen pizza, jazzed up with peppers and cheese.