Giving the Old Body a Workout

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Another scorcher.  Sunny.  High 98

Today I joined an online yoga class taught by the instructor who taught here in Retama BC (Before Coronavirus).  I did the class via zoom.  The teacher is bilingual and some of the other online students are Spanish-speaking, so she went back and forth between English and Spanish.  Really cute and interesting.

After yoga was 2 classes of water aerobics, so I was pretty whipped.  I also did laundry at the clubhouse, so made several back and forth walks in the blazing sun.   A good work-out day!

There wasn’t too much work accomplished on the lot behind us today.  They delivered a load of batterboards that will frame the forms for pouring concrete. 

DINNER:  I used up some more of the special morel mushrooms our daughter had sent us.  Based on a recommendation from my cooking guru brother, I served them sauteed in a bed of buttery pasta.  Excellent!  Sides were a romaine salad with surprisingly good tomatoes (often hard to find) and steamed peas. 

BOOK:  “Bertie Plays the Blues” by Allistair McCall Smith.  This is the author that wrote the African lady detective series.  Now back in his Scotland home, he has written a series of books about life in Edinburgh.  The books are actually a collection of his newspaper stories.  I feel like my vocabulary, punctuation, and grammar improve after I absorb some of his impeccable English writing…with a touch of Scottish.   5 stars out of 5.

Baby steps back to BC (Before Coronavirus)

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very hot – 105 and sunny

Early this morning the workers started clearing the lot behind us.  We watched the bulldozer grade the lot

By afternoon, they had finished their work and a truck hauled away the extra dirt.  It is amazing how quickly this is going.  It will be interesting to watch the progress of the new coach house.   We will probably need to prepare for a lot of dust around us. 

The village’s exercise and craft room opened up today, with quite strict restrictions.  We tried chair yoga.  Three of us were spaced out carefully in a fairly large room.  We wore masks.  The masks plus the lack of air conditioning resulted in “hot yoga”!  We were really sweating! ….But, happy to get back to it.

This memory popped up in Facebook today.  Four years ago, we snorkeled on the Great Barrier Reef in NE Australia.  It was a supurb experience – a  checkmark on my bucket list!

The highlight of the day was a visit to our favorite restaurant in the Valley.  It is called Loretto’s Bistro.  We went with the friends who might go on the Mediterranean cruise with us.  It is a small family business, and they need customers.  We went for happy hour when wine was half off.  There was only one other table occupied and the waiters were masked up.  Tablecloths had been removed and everything was wiped down carefully. Complimentary Lysol wipes to welcome us.  We shared a beautiful cheese platter.

Our friends know the owner who happened to be there.  He joined us and ordered us a complimentary fruit plate for the rest of our wine.

We had a great conversation and enjoyed the outing very much.

DINNER:  Our neighbors were having a going-away party for some other neighbors who are taking off for Iowa, then Montana.  We just dropped in quickly for a burger as it was very hot. 

A Day Punctuated with Bits of Excitement

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Quite hot and sunny.  High 104

Unless it is super hot, we enjoy sitting on our driveway sipping morning coffee.  Something usually happens and/or we get a chance to say hello to other residents walking their dogs or doing their morning exercise regime.  Some are behind masks, others not.

This morning, during this coffee ritual, 2 big black dogs came running down the street.  When they saw us out, they came bounding up to us, probably in search of food.  They had been dumped in our neighborhood.  Sadly, this happens a lot.  We tried calling Animal Rescue.  Hope they find a new home. 

After morning exercise, water aerobics, and lunch, we headed out to the supermarket.  Quite exciting, as we haven’t been there for about 6 weeks!  We have, however, gone to a small fruit/veg market in the interim.  We encountered well-stocked shelves, everyone in masks, and no limits on purchases, except meat.  We stocked up, spending $300 – hopefully this will see us through another 3-4 weeks.  I bought extra canned goods, with the hope that they will be used on a road-trip soon.

As we left the store, I experienced a bit of trauma……The parking lot was unbearably hot (104) with the hot sun and heat reflecting from the blacktop.  I was about to keel over with the heat made worse with the face mask on.  With one hand steering the grocery cart, I tried to undo the face mask with my other hand, and accidentally caught my glasses.  They went flying in the parking lot.  I retrieved the glasses, but one lens had fallen out, and had flown away somewhere.  I started searching the area for it.  The Latino people are the kindest in the world, I think.  Immediately two Latinos approached me and asked me if I was okay.  (I must have looked pretty frazzled by then.) After I explained the situation, they started helping me look for the glass piece.  One stopped traffic and the other was on his hands and knees helping me. Cars were backed up, but no one got angry waiting or honked or anything – again, the kindness of Latinos.  George had gone ahead and was oblivious that all of this was going on.  Finally –   Hurray!  One person found it.  Later, George was able to get it back into the frame, only a bit scratched.  Whew!

I just love having a lot of fruit and veg after shopping….

George cut some flowers from our bushes.  Looks like spring on our dining room table…

More excitement….Some workers started marking off the dimensions of the new house that will be built soon behind us. They staked off the corners.  It will be fun to watch the house go up.  I talked with the realtor who told me that it will be a deluxe coach house, like ours.  It will be used as a “Stay and Play” house – a place where prospective buyers can stay for a few days free.  It will also be for sale.  Once it sells, they will build another Stay and Play house next to it, and so on.

The day culminated with a Zoom call with some friends from Rochester, MN.  It was great catching up with them.

DINNER:  Newly-purchased pork chops on the grill, cabbage, and tater tots.  (I limited myself to 3 tots as I am trying to lose weight).  The cabbage was really good – a new recipe.  I sliced a green cabbage into slivers and sauteed it in a wee bit of olive oil.  At the end, I stirred in about 1 Tablespoon cumin seeds (not the powder) and 2 teaspoons of turmeric.  The spices took it up a notch! 

Traveling dreams…

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot and sunny.  High 95

It was a pretty quiet Monday – back in the routine of morning exercise and water aerobics classes. 

I am happy to see these Facebook memories pop up as reminders of our traveling days.  This one popped up today from 2 years ago.  We were doing a housesitting assignment in southwestern England, near the Wales border.  It was a lovely spot.  We took care of two cute little dogs and enjoyed sitting outside around the homeowners’ pond.

And, another memory popped up – this one from last year.  It was taken at the Guadalajara, Mexico airport as we were flying home after an assignment.  The sign was an advertisement for a hospital in Guadalajara saying that it had just affiliated with Mayo Clinic, “the World’s Best Hospital”.  I have friends who work in this section of Mayo – coordinating affiliations with hospitals around the world.  I wonder how this pandemic is affecting the future of that initiative.

We continue to ponder upcoming travel.  Today, I received an email from Norwegian cruise line saying that for now, at least, our cruise in late October is still on.  They assured us of their cancellation policy.  Essentially, we can get a full refund if either we or they cancel.  Reassuring, but it doesn’t help with our planning.

DINNER:  We are down to 5 shrimp and 2 small scallops!  First I made a tiny shrimp cocktail for appetizers.  Then, I sauted the scallops after coating them with some grits – made a nice crust.  Then, to bulk up the dinner, I made a parmesan risotto.  I threw in the rest of the artichoke hearts, flavoring it with  the mushroom broth from the water that had hydrated the morel mushrooms last week.  It gave it a very nice flavor.  Tomorrow will be a much-needed trip to the grocery store!

10th Lock-down Sunday

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot and humid.  High 95

Yesterday started out with a BANG of thunder;  today started out with the WHOP WHOP WHOP of helicopters. About 6:30 AM, Border Patrol helicopters spotted  some illegals around our neighborhood.  Their helicopters were very low and noisy….. 

Then, about  10 Border Patrol vehicles came whizzing by our house.  Later we learned that they caught 12 illegals between our village and the highway.  This happens quite a bit.  We never feel scared, as these folks are dirt poor, scraggly, empty-handed, and just trying to get North as fast as they can.  Such a sad situation. 

George took over the kitchen, making a tasty omelette from leftover veg and potatoes, and his famous Sunday grits – while I watched CBS Sunday Morning.

It seems like I wash dishes a lot.  This is because we have very little counterspace to place the dishes, have no dishwasher, and we only have one set of dishes, glassware, pans, etc.  I wash dishes at least 3 times per day.  Today, George kindly washed up.  He asked me to take a photo of him virtuously washing the dishes for the blog….men are so funny….

This photo popped up on my Facebook memories.  It is also the background photo of this blog.  It was taken 4 years ago when we were at the Great Barrier Reef in northern Australia.  We took a sunset catamaran cruise the evening before our snorkeling trip the following day.   What great memories! 

George spent the afternoon watching  old golf tournaments in the Airstream.  It must have been a sauna inside.  I stayed in air-conditioned comfort and read an entire book.

DINNER:  A very pleasant suprise.  The cupboard and refrigerator are getting bare, so I put together what I could find:  pasta, artichoke hearts, cream cheese, mozarella cheese, and leftover ham from Easter dinner.  I sauted some onions and garlic, then made a roux.  With that, I made a cheese sauce with the cream cheese and added diced ham. Meanwhile, I boiled the pasta.  Then, I put it all together with mozarella slices and bread crumbs on top and baked it.   Quite tasty!


Tonight was my very favorite TV show on public TV – the BBC show Call the Midwife.  Sadly, tonight’s episode was the last of the season.  I wonder if they will continue to show reruns.  This is the cover of the book from which the TV show was created.

When we were housesitting one year in England, we tried to visit the villages where many of our BBC favorites were filmed.  We found the town where they filmed some of the scenes from Call the Midwife, and I pretended that I was one of the nurses….

BOOK:. “Miss Julia Lays Down The Law” by Ann B Ross.  A kind of silly, light-hearted book about a sophisticated southern lady in North Carolina who always gets herself in trouble.  It is part of a series.  3 stars out of 5.

I have two new online books to get cracking on! 

The Day Started Out with A Bang!

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Thunderstorms in the AM; partly cloudy and muggy in PM.  High 80

We woke up to a huge thunderstorm – lightning and thunder all around us.  We got about 3 inches of rain in a short period of time, creating flood zones in other parts of the neighborhood.  We are high and dry, thankfully.

Sad news…the storm headed east from here, and hit nearby South Padre Island (where we were earlier this week) really hard.  A lighting strike created a huge fire at a beach condo.

It was storming during my water aerobics classes, so I missed swimming today.  The clubhouse has been re-opened, so we checked it out….

We played a few games of pool.  We tied 2-2 (only because George scratched the 8 ball)…

We received a very thoughtful gift in the mail from my aunt and uncle who live in Grande Praire, Alberta.  While doing some pandemic spring-cleaning, they came across some piano sheet music that my mother had played as a young teenager (if I did my math correctly).  My mother was born and grew up near Edmonton, Alberta (so obviously a Canadian).    This song  “God Bless America” must have been a big hit, popular outside of the USA, too.  The cover says that it was composed by Irving Berlin and was first performed by Kate Smith on Armistice Day, 1938. 

I practiced playing it at the clubhouse. In these times of woe, it was nice to play a patriotic song…

We invited another couple for wine, pate’, and a French baguette for a light supper.  She brought a delicious caprese salad.  She is German; he is British.  If all goes as planned (but who knows), we will be on a cruise together around the Mediterranean in November.  We have a fairly large table, and can seat guests on the far side of the table, so we can keep our 6-feet social distancing when we entertain. 

New neighbors?

LOCATION:  In our tiny house in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot and sunny.  94

When we went out to check our plants this morning, we were surprised to see this “Available” sign on the lot behind us.  This must mean that they will build a spec house on the lot.  Hope our vines grow quickly as our privacy fence.  This photo shows the lot and our house in the back – ours is the silver pick-up

Not too much excitement today – exercise for George in the Airstream, water aerobics for me, and lots of reading and computer work (goofing around).  Some neighbors from across the street arrived for the long weekend.  We invited them over for drinks. (We sat in one cluster, and they sat 6-feet away from us on the other side of the room.)  They are from Houston, and come down periodically to work on their house (a deluxe coach house like ours).  They are not retired yet,  only 53, but plan to make this their retirement base in the future while they travel in their motor home.  Apparently, there is some law that allows 53-year-olds in a 55+ community.  I am glad to have younger people here.  This is a fun couple. 

One of the joys of housesitting is meeting and befriending homeowners.  A few years ago, we did an assignment in Walla Walla – As they say, the town is so nice, they named it twice!  This couple does housesitting, too, all over the world, then arranges for a housesitter to come in to take care of their lovely dog while they are away.  It must take a lot of coordination.  The man is a gourmet cook and sent me a recipe to use up one of the thousands of chicken legs in our freezer.  I tried it tonight…

DINNER:  The recipe called for peanut sauce, but I substituted tahini.  I browned the chicken in an iron skillet, then baked it slowly to finish it off.  Meanwhile I made the sauce which included tahini, lots of fresh herbs, cumin, garlic, tomato, and green onion.  I served it with a sweet potato and mixed steamed vegetables.  It was very tasty, and different.  I am always looking for new recipes. 

Only one more chicken leg left in the freezer!  Yay!

BOOK:. “Love and Death Among The Cheetahs” by Rhys Bowen.  The latest in this lady detective series.  4 stars out of 5.  Very light reading, which is what I wanted right now. 

Another beautiful sunset….