117 Heat Index!

LOCATION: In our tiny house in Retama Village in Mission, Texas

WEATHER: HOT. Sunny. High 100. Heat index of 117!

Another beastly hot day.  Even with a  heat index of 117, the Mexican laborers worked hard all afternoon digging trenches to lay the plumbing on the new house going up behind us.  Incredible.  I must stop complaining about the heat.  I am self-centered.

With the heat, we mostly just sat inside and read.  Our day was punctuated with one blip of excitement….we realized that our Facebook accounts had been hacked and we hurriedly rushed to change passwords, notify friends, etc.  That got the heart rate up a bit.

This Facebook memory popped up today from 10 years ago….work life.  The photo was taken at a professional conference. (I am the one with the lime green jacket).    It made me remember the days of makeup, panty hose, business suits, permed and dyed hair, high heels, and stress.  Gone, gone, gone!!!

DINNER:  Mahi mahi filets.  Side was soba noodles with sugar snap peas in a seafood broth.  We paired it with one of the white wines that we got through our new wine club.  Very gourmet! 

BOOK:  “The Beautiful Mystery” by Louise Penny.  I have read several of her books that take place in Quebec.  She is an excellent writer.  5 stars out of 5.  (The fictitious area where her books take place is one of the places we had planned to visit this summer……)

Soon we will be traveling with “Joy”

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  HOT HOT HOT.  High 100.  Full sun.  Heat index – 115!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was really, really hot today.  The swimming pool is closed Monday mornings for cleaning, so we have to have our classes at mid-day, when it is the hottest, of course.  It was just miserable today.  The water was tepid, not cool.  One lady went home early feeling ill.    I think I had a bit of heat-stroke, as I felt bad all over and felt like I was going to throw up.  (TMI?)  Once I got home,  I saw the Mexican workmen putting in the plumbing at the house behind us.  Who am I to complain when they have to do such hard work in the glaring sun and heat?

News flash!    

For years, I have been trying to think of a name for our Airstream.  Almost every Airstream owner names theirs – names like Silver Bullet, Tin Can, Sophie, etc.  Our good friends from Nova Scotia, Tony and Jenny, came up with the cleverest name for their cute RPod trailer – TaJ (T for Tony and J for Jenny).  The full name is Taj-Me-Haul.   I cannot compete with that, but came up with  “Joy”.   Our motto will be “Traveling with Joy”.  Of course, that has a double entendre – as we travel the roads and the world with joy in our hearts.  A third, private meaning is a tribute to my mother, whose name was Joy.  Note the banner on the top of the blog post today (compliments of technical daughter Alexis).  We will have to get decal letters to put on the Airstream’s front window, and perhaps some decor with the name Joy.  More to follow!

A friend from Arizona posted this cute photo today on Facebook.  So true – both in Arizona and here in south Texas.  I can take a long, hot shower using the cold water tap! 

Our neighbors stopped by to show us their new baby chihuahua.  Five weeks old.  This replaces one that died a few weeks ago. 

DINNER:  Red and black beans with rice.  I added bits of leftover sausage and chicken and lots of Mexican spices.  Side was creamy broccoli.  Working on downsizing that  freezer…..

13th Sunday?

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Miserably hot.  100.  Full sun

If I have counted correctly, this is the 13th Sunday we have been in this quarantine.  Granted, we have not been locked into our house or neighborhood, and are starting to venture out.  But still…13 weeks is a long time!  My outlook is better now that we have some departure plans.

We did our normal Sunday morning ritual….we watched “CBS Sunday Morning” while eating George’s grits and eggs.  The TV program had one story about how people around the world view the USA now.  It was really heartbreaking – I almost cried.  Most countries think that America has lost its way and that we are no longer a world leader. 

We got into a cleaning fit and did things like clean the blades of the ceiling fans and vacummed the baseboards.  Why not?

In the quiet afternoon as we were reading, there was an extremely loud pop – like a gunshot.  We jumped up to see what it was.  We couldn’t find anything, but think it must have been another crack in a floor tile.

I spent some time making campfire starters.  We have been saving toilet paper rolls whenever we are here, and I collect clothes dryer lint from the dryers in our clubhouse.  I stuff the lint into the rolls and dab a bit of Vaseline inside.  I now have a big box for us to use this summer. 

Also, George has been collecting scrap wood at the construction sites in the neighborhood for campfires.  We cannot transport wood with bark, but this construction wood is permitted.  We are all set!

DINNER:  I had grilled chicken from yesterday’s grilling plus some capers and mozarella to use up, so I googled the ingredients to find a recipe.  Voila!  I made a roux, then added chicken broth, cream, white wine, and lemon juice to make a sauce.  To that I added the chicken thighs, capers, and cheese.  It turned out quite well.  Side was sugar snap peas.

BOOK:  “Little Fires Everywhere” by Celesete Ng.  This is a popular book, and I think it is on the best-seller lists.  It was also made into a TV mini-series.  The main star of the book is the true backdrop – Shaker Heights, Ohio – a utopian, planned community.  The plot is about a “perfect” family living there and some new people that move in.  I wasn’t as thrilled with the book as I thought I would be.  3 stars out of 5.

How slow was the day…..

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  HOT – 99.  Sunny

It was a slow day today.  How slow do you say?  Well, when I asked George what exciting thing I could write about, he suggested writing that he went down to the Airstream and brought back our fly swatter, as we had a pesky fly flying around the house.  Pretty sad state of affairs, right?

I made one more RV reservation for our first week on the road.  We had planned to stay in a Harvest Host winery in northern Texas, but the temps there are predicted to be 102.  Harvest Host sites generally do not have any hook-ups, so that would mean no A/C.  So, I made a reservation for a commercial park with full hook-ups (the “full enchilada”  the  friendly clerk said when I called).  It is in the city of Wichita Falls, which will be fun to check out.  Maybe we can hit the winery next fall on our way home.  We have two more planned on our way north, one in Kansas and one in Minnesota.  Maybe it will be cool enough there without a/c.

George helped our friend out some more, laying a brick walkway.  We met the owners of the porthome where we are storing the Airstream.  They live in Dallas, and just come here once in a while.

On one side of our house are neighbors (owners) who are now in Nebraska.  They have the lily that was carefully cared for by the landscaping company this week.  We are helping them out with their irrigation system which is having problems.  On the other side of us are renters.  They are back in Illinois now.  Their hedge  has really grown up, providing lots of privacy.

George fired up the grill.  I asked him to grill fajita meat for dinner tonight and some chicken thighs for tomorrow night.  Cooking meat on the grill makes it so much tastier. 

DINNER:  Tacos with the grilled fajita meat along with grilled onions and jalapenos.  Topped them with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a smoky salsa.  Muy bueno!  We opened one of the bottles of wine that we received this week from our wine club. It was an excellent pinot noir from Oregon.

Biting the bullet…

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  HOT – 98.  Sunny

Yes, I bit the bullet.  I cancelled our cruise around the Mediterranean and our flights to Europe at the end of September.  As it stands today, Greece and other countries on our cruise itinerary won’t allow Americans in.  We are lumped in with third world countries whose Covid 19 deaths are the highest.  Shameful.  I got a refund on the cruise itself, and credits on the flights. 

We had bursts of activity today.  First up, we received 6 bottles of wine from a wine club that George joined.  We are anxious to try them.

Included in our HOA fees is landscaping service.  Residents here complain A LOT about the way the crew mow and trim.  We have been pretty pleased, although we don’t have a very large yard or many shrubs to mow around.  Today they were finally able to mow.  It had been too wet to mow earlier in the week, so the grass and weeds were very high.  I took this “before” photo of our neighbor’s calla lily bush dwarfed by tall grass.

George watched while the crew came through.  He observed the crewman mowing our neighbor’s yard.  Then, the man, using his own initiative, got off his lawnmower, got on his hands and knees, removed the decorative bricks around the lily plant, hand-pulled the weeds, and then replaced the bricks.  Here is the “after” photo. 

I wrote a note to the property management company praising the landscaping service today.  I’m afraid all they get are complaints.

One of our friends just moved within Retama Village (this happens a lot) from a port home to a regular house.  George is helping him lay a brick walkway.

We went out to dinner with our neighbors, as we won’t be seeing them for awhile.  It was the first time we have been out to dinner in about 5 months!  George and I shared an appetizer of ceviche, and a sea bass entree.  We were happy to support this small local business.  The owner said things have been rough.  They took a lot of precautions…the waiter wore a mask; the tables were covered with butcher paper instead of cloth tablecloths; tables were set far apart; hand sanitizers were offered upon entry; and salt and pepper came in little paper packets. 

Things are heating up….

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot – 100 and sunny

It is so hot that my herbs in flower pots burned up.  Summer is definitely here!  Time to move on!

The construction workers returned this morning to finish laying the batterboards for the concrete.  It was a real fiesta – as they were working, they were laughing with each other, in Spanish of course, and had loud Mexican music blaring, and children chasing each other around.  I love it!

After water aerobics classes, I took photos of some of the areas around the swimming pool that need attention – like cracking pavement, areas in need of power-washing, etc.  I spent the afternoon submitting the issues online to Retama Village’s property management company.  I hope something good happens from my work.

It is official…..Our 2020 Canal du Midi boat trip has been canceled and rescheduled for September, 2021.   I guess it was inevitable. 

We will be bringing the Airstream back to our driveway in a few days to start packing it up, but meanwhile today I began various packing and to-do lists.  We are getting closer!

DINNER:  Leftover gourmet macaroni and cheese with ham chunks.  I jazzed it up with a Parmesan cracker crust.  Really tasty.  Probably very fattening as well…..  Side was mixed vegetables. 

Not much to write about!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot and muggy.  High 90

After the excitement yesterday of undocumented immigrants running by us and an outing with a haircut, today was pretty slow in comparison.

  I did my chair yoga class, followed by two water aerobics classes.  For the second class, I had the pool to myself.  Great social distancing!

I did more work on our summer camping trip planning.  I pretty much have nights reserved between our departure date of June 15 through the end of August.  After August, we don’t know what we will do – it will depend whether our Europe trip is on or off. 

This Facebook memory popped up today.  It is from five years ago, after we did a housesitting assignment in northern California.  After the assignment, we went north through the beautiful tall redwood forests.  I think I read that this tree is no longer available to drive through.

We have some new neighbors….they bought a deluxe coach house just like ours a few houses down from us.  We invited them over for a social-distancing happy hour.  They are very nice.  Good to have new peeps!

DINNER:  Shrimp casserole.  Lots of shrimp sauteed in onion, garlic, and herbs.  Topped with parmesan and breadcrumbs.  Side was sugar-snap peas. 


LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Overcast.  High 90

Our neighbor in front of us has a dog, an Australian sheep dog I believe, that barks a lot.  (We secretly call him Bob Barker).  This morning he woke us up with unusually lively barking.  We got up to see what was going on.  Border Patrol trucks were parked right in front of our house and all up and down the street.

We watched the Border Patrol guide 8 undocumented immigrants along the fence, in back of Bob Barker’s house.  We learned what had happened…..Bob Barker’s owner took  him out to pee and Bob went berserk.  The owner looked up and saw the 8 men.  He called Border Patrol and started chasing them.  They raced up and down the street, and at one point, hid under another neighbor’s motor home. Motor home below….

Border Patrol came quickly and caught them.  The immigrants were all wearing black shirts and pants, which is normal.  It helps them camouflage.  I hear that the poor souls arrive bedraggled, all scratched up from the thorny brush, and covered with ticks and mosquito bites.  It is such a sad situation. 

When it was over, Bob Barker was pronounced the hero of the day.

Another big excitement of the day was a visit to the beauty shop for me.  I haven’t had a haircut in about 4 months.  I needed a cut badly, and hoped the hairdresser could repair George’s scalping of my bangs.

It was a very interesting process.  I was instructed to call from the parking lot upon my arrival.  The hairdresser came out and waved me in.  She locked us in, to prevent people from wandering in off the street.  There was just one other customer, far away in a fairly large beauty shop.  They stagger the appointments.  My hairdresser wore a shield, and I wore my mask.  As she cut, cut, cut, the hair started floating into my mask.  It was really itchy and hot. To keep things more sanitary, the hairdresser did not put a cape on me, so my shirt was covered with hair.  It was pretty miserable.  Once I got outside, I went into a sneezing fit.  The haircut was good, super short, to last me a while.

Another Facebook memory popped up from 5 years ago.  While we were housesitting in Northern California, we went to a popular brewery – Russian River Brewery.  They had cute coasters….

DINNER:  Spaghetti meat sauce over grits souffle.  Side was broccoli.  A great way to use leftover grits from Sunday breakfast. 

BOOK:  “The Lost Girls of Paris” by Pam Jenof.  This book, historical fiction, traces the lives of British women who served as spies during WWII.  4 stars out of 5

Beautiful skies over Retama

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Overcast, scattered thunderstorms.  High 90

On Monday mornings, the maintenance staff add chlorine to the swimming pool and close it for a few hours, so we have to move our water aerobics classes to the afternoon.  The pool still has a  lot of the chemicals in it when we swim.  I, like others, wear our special “Monday” swimsuits that are already stretched out and pretty much ruined by the chlorine. 

I did laundry in the afternoon, in the midst of a strong downpour.  I had to skirt the puddles as I schlepped the laundry to and from the laundry room and the truck.  Not fun!

The day’s biggest excitement was a virtual happy hour with our daughter from Minnesota.  We sipped Negronis (my new favorite drink) during the chat. 

I booked a few more campgrounds for our upcoming trip.  Things are falling into place nicely.  We are making long packing and to-do lists. 

This Facebook photo from five years ago popped up today.  It was taken when we were doing a housesitting assignment in northern California at an organic farm.  We went on a day trip to visit some breweries and wineries, and these ladies “attacked” George.  What a chick magnet he is!

The thunderstorms passed and the sky provided a beautiful show.

Followed by a beautiful rainbow.  This is the view from our driveway…

DINNER:  Green chile stew.  This is not like chile that you usually think of….no beans or burger.  It is a soup base made from green chiles.  I bought the base and then added sausage, chicken, bacon, canned vegetables, and sour cream.  I don’t think the product is sold in the North; it is a Tex-Mex thing…

This is what it looks like (green, not red).  It is really delicious and so easy to make. 

Shrimp boil!

LOCATION:  Our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Overcast.  Spotty rain.  High 85

While we sipped our coffee on the driveway this morning, a Border Patrol helicopter went round and round above us.  They must have spotted some illegals.  When they see someone from the air, they radio to their counterparts on the ground who round up the illegals by truck, horseback, or bicycle.  I can’t imagine the billions of dollars our government is spending on this. 

I spent several hours reserving campgrounds and RV parks for our trip this summer.  Usually we do not like to reserve ahead of time, but this year we are thinking that it is necessary.   I  made reservations for almost every night from mid-June to late-August.  The first two weeks will be a slow trip from our house here in South Texas to southern Minnesota.  I have booked one commercial park, one state park, and three Army Corps of Engineers parks for that leg of the trip so far.  I also booked three RV parks in Montana for August. 

This Facebook memory popped up today from one year ago.  We were at the Airstream Rally called Aluminapalooza at its factory in central Ohio.  Here I am showing off my new flamingo purse.  Flamingos are a symbol of Airstreamers.  After the Aluminapalooza rally, we headed to Winnipeg where we joined our Nova Scotia friends for a summer of RVing in central Canada. 

The highlight of the day was joining our friends for a shrimp boil under their new covered patio.  We were the 4 couples who have reservations for the Canal du Midi boat trip in southern France in early October.  We kept our 6-feet social distance and ate outside with plenty of fresh air and space between us.

Besides enjoying the food, we discussed our plans.  It was decided that we will try to get the boat company to postpone our trip until September 2021.  If our flight does not get cancelled, and if Europe will allow us in, George and I will probably keep our flight and do some housesitting assignments in Italy or Spain.  We will just wait and see.

DINNER:  We have never had a shrimp boil before, but it is similar to a Louisiana crawfish boil or the fish boil done in northern Wisconsin.  A big pot of hot water with seafood seasoning was used to cook the shrimp, corn-on-the-cob, and small potatoes.  We each ate it from big cake pans on our laps so we wouldn’t  have to sit at tables.  We lucked out with the weather – the rain held off and it cooled down. A lovely evening!