Monday, January 30, 2012

Picnic at the Palapa & New Pup!

Hi all, Dianne here.   We all know how dog-crazy I am.  Roger would say "emphasis on crazy."  Well, a couple of weeks ago I saw a photo of a red-heeler-mix up for adoption at Cinderella Pet Rescue (where we got Bandido last January).  I just couldn't get her out of my mind, and finally persuaded Roger to go take a look.  Well, you know how that goes....

Bright and early on adoption day we took Bandido to Cinderella to meet his new little sister.  The photo above shows Bandido as he first sees her coming toward the office.

When we got home, we ate a quick lunch and then took both dogs on a long hike at the state park next door, so they'd get used to being together in our new "pack."

Tequila is a little overweight, so we need to get her into an exercise routine to get in shape... 

 ...This became evident as we got into the state park and she staged a "protest"!

After a few stops for rest and drinks, we made it home.

Both dogs were hot and tired, and immediately stretched out on the cool tile floor.

We'll keep at it with our walks and play time at the dog park, and help her build up more endurance.  She is still an pup, 7 1/2 months old.

Speaking of the dog park, Tequila made her first debut at Doggie Play Date Sunday morning.  She was a little timid at first, but after about 30 minutes she was running and wrestling with the best of them!  The dog in the front is our whippet friend Klick.  I learned long ago that it is very difficult to photograph a whippet without catching just a blur.  

I did a bit better with Klick's brother Gabe running at full tilt.  Poetry in motion!


Here is a good shot of Tequila and Bandido wrestling in the motor home this morning.
This action will look familiar to our friends Chuck and Cindy and their dog Sophie, a/k/a "the luckiest dog in Fishers, Indiana."

They play hard, but then it's time for a nap.  

One other bit of excitement is that my wildlife cam finally caught an identifiable photo overnight:

  This is a black-tailed jackrabbit in the green space area just beyond the chain link fence in our back yard.

I'll turn this blog over to Roger now, so that he can write about our fun hot dog and ice cream picnic at the palapa on the Rio Grande.  I'm sure they could smell our hot dogs cooking in Mexico!

There were lots of hot dogs left over from the Retama Village walk-through a few days ago.  What to do with them????  One of our neighbors, Linda, thought it would be fun to have a hot dog roast down by the river.  Linda and a few friends organized the event and invited the Retama community.  

What do I mean when I say, down by the river?  Why, the Rio Grande River, of course.  Bentsen Palm Development, which owns Retama Village (among other properties) maintains a palapa right next to the river.  It is only about a mile from our park.   Getting there was simple.  You just drive out of our park onto a nicely paved road, head toward the National Butterfly Center, stay on the road when it becomes gravel, go up the rise onto the gravel-topped levy, wave to the border patrol agents, drive a quarter mile on the levy, exit the levy, stay on the gravel lane until it turns to dirt, avoid sliding into the boat dock, and you are there.  

For our Indiana friends....  What is a palapa?  It is a thatch-covered, open structure (similar to what we midwesterners call a shelter house - except the roof is made of grass.)  VERY tropical. 

Neighbor Jim arrived early to get the fire going underneath the grate in the giant fire kettle.  Jim also hung around to roast all the hot dogs.  He even dipped ice cream.

Everyone was asked to bring chips and dips (Dianne brought two dips: one with sour cream, the other was me.) People brought their own beverages and folding chairs.

Nothing brings out a crowd like free food!  We counted around 125 people who enjoyed the food while relaxing by the river.  There were swim noodles available for people who wanted to float in the river, just kidding.  (Dianne again:  Yes, that IS Mexico just across the river!)

Friendly border patrol agents drove through and flew over.  Often you can see them in boats on the river, but not this day.  They are ever-present.  These guys work very hard and do a great job ensuring that this is a safe area.  We would not have had such an enjoyable afternoon without their ongoing service.

(Dianne again:  If any of my friends up north watch Border Wars on the National Geographic Channel, this is the same helicopter that is often seen on the show.)

All of the beautiful Retama people were there.  Check out the cutie in the sun glasses.

To top everything off, there was left-over ice cream from a recent ice cream social.  The men took over the serving responsibilities.  Yep, that's me in the orange, with chocolate ice cream up to my elbow.  Lots of people.  Lots of fun.  A great afternoon.

Now for the pet picture of the day.  One of my duties here at Retama is to post an updated activity calendar on the bulletin board next to the mailboxes.  I do this every Sunday.  Since I knew we would be busy at the hot dog roast,  I printed the calendar before we left and put it on the counter for later posting.   Well......  It seems as if our new puppy is a counter surfer, and she is not particular -- food, treats, and apparently paper.  The picture below depicts Charlie the Cat letting us know that Tequila did it!

The Dog Ate Roger's Homework!!!!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Retama Walk-Through and More Doggie Fun

Hi all, Dianne here.  This will be a short post just to update you on the goings-on.  You might recognize the guy in the Panama Jack hat driving the golf cart -- yes, it is Roger.  He had way too much fun driving one of the "trolley shuttles" for the annual Retama Walk Through the Village Open House.  Our long-time readers will remember our post from February, 2010 after Roger and I visited Retama from Bentsen Palm Village RV Park next door.  I took a zillion photos that day, because we had decided to purchase a lot at Retama.  Those photos came in very handy when we were designing the interior of our coach house!  If you're interested in seeing that old post, I've provided a link.  

February 2010 Retama Coach House Tour

Last year we didn't open our coach house for the tour, because it was still very much under construction.  If you want to read past blogs about the progress on our coach house construction, click on the label "Coach House Remodel" on the left side of the blog to go to the posts written during the construction.  We started out with an empty shell, as you would see from the earlier photos.

This year we opened our tiny house up for "inspection" by the visitors.  I should have kept count; we had lots of visitors.  Poor Bandido had a rough day, because he was relegated to the inside of the motor home during the tour.  I'm sure Charlie the Cat had an even worse day being shut inside with an energetic Bandido!  

The day began with free hot dogs, bottled water and popcorn for the volunteers at 11:00 a.m.  The open house began at 1:00, with the visitors also being offered the same refreshments before starting the trek around the neighborhood.  

Since I was stationed at our place all afternoon I couldn't take many photos.  Here's a long shot of visitors checking out Dave and Marilyn's beautiful little place down the block:

Here's another link to a site showing tours of several homes in the neighborhood:
"It's Only a Shed"

It's amazing how different folks use their tiny coach houses.  If you check out that blog, be sure to click on "older posts" at the bottom when you get the last one on the first page; some of the ones on page 2 are not to be missed!

Today was tomato harvest day.  We had enough to share with our friends Jim and Sue (payback for some delicious homemade bread they have shared with us).

You might remember from our last post that we had to take drastic measures to fend off our mockingbirds:  

It worked and didn't seem to affect the ripening; if anything, I think it speeded it up.

Walking to the dog park next door is an everyday ritual for us.  Bandido gets so excited that he feels he has to lead us over there:

We don't let him do it, for it would take less than 5 minutes for him to demolish a leash, but I took a photo with my iPhone, 'cause it is cute!

You'll see why he gets so excited to get there in the next two photos.  A favorite game for Bandido and his "Buds" is 

"Who's got the ball?" Which turns into 

"Catch me if you Can!"

As I've said before, life is g-o-o-d here in South Texas.  To illustrate this, I'm logging off to head down the street for an impromptu happy hour!  See ya!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

RV show - Gonzales Burgers - Vandals!

This is only half of a Gonzales Burger!

Roger here....  We spend a lot of time within walking distance of our RV.  There is so much to do here,  but yesterday it was time for a road trip. 

After a quick trip to the dog park for Bandido, Dianne and I piled into the car heading for the town of Mercedes, about 30 miles away.  Mercedes is the home of a giant outlet mall.  It is also the home of the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show.  We may check that out in March, but on this day we were on our way to the annual Rio Grande Valley RV Show.  The show was worth the $5 admission charge.  Lots of RVs, but no class A motor homes :-( (Not that we were looking; we still love our Mountain Aire -- D.)  There were more than 90 booths.  We enjoyed wandering through the aisles, seeing many of our friends.  Dianne did a little bit of damage at the Tupperware booth.  According to Dianne, there's always room for Tupperware.

When we were ready to leave at mid-day, we were hungry.  We talked about stopping at a local diner in Mission that has great food.  But then, Dianne realized that the famous Gonzales Burger hole-in- the-wall restaurant was in the town of Donna, on the way home.  Gonzales burgers are legendary in this part of Texas, and we had never had this particular culinary experience.  So, with the help of our iPhone, we were on our way.

We had already heard that Gonzales Burgers was in a residential area, and it was.  We parked on the street where we saw all the other parked cars.  The restaurant had no identification sign, only an "open" sign on the door and several people sitting outside at picnic tables. 

The story behind this family restaurant:
    Students from the school across the street often stopped by the Gonzales household after school.  The mom frequently fixed delicious burgers for the visiting students.  They were so good that the enterprise of kindness became a business.  An interesting fact...  all the beef is ground by hand.  When the hamburger is gone for the day, the restaurant closes.  What fun!  Glad we arrived on time. 

Remember the old, old Saturday Night Live sketch at the greasy spoon that only served cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger - and Pepsi?  Well, this is what we found here, with a couple of exceptions....  they had french fries, onion rings, and Coke products.  Oh, and they were extremely happy and friendly -- so typical of the local people here.  

After giving our order, hamburger, hamburger, fries, Dr. Pepper.... the friendly lady who seemed to be in charge smiled and told us that it would be between 30 and 40 minutes.  She was so nice and her smile was so genuine, that a somewhat long wait was not an issue.  We smiled back and found a place to sit at one of the outside picnic tables, later moving inside --- lots of conversations with the Winter Texans at our table who visit this place often.  

"Number 80!"  That's us.  Wow, look at these burgers.  They had to be a pound each.  It was almost like eating an entire meatloaf.  (Credits to our friend, Sue, for that quip.)  We decided to cut one sandwich in half and take the other home to eat for supper the next night.  They were every bit as delicious as they looked... fresh tomatoes, onions, lettuce, mmmmmm!  Well worth the diversion from our normally healthy diets.

Dianne took a picture of her half of the burger (after she had already eaten half of it)  to show how big it actually was.  

So much for the great burgers....  It is time to tell the disturbing story of vandalism at our coach house.  You try to be nice.  You provide food for the hungry, and the hungry gratefully accept it.  SO UNSETTLING!

Look at our beautiful tomatoes.
We watered them every day.  We made sure they had plenty of Texas sunshine.  We rolled them into the coach house on the few nights that we thought it might be too cold.

Look what this ungrateful guest did!  Yes, the mockingbird whose bird bath we changed every day!

When we were not looking, he decimated several of our tomatoes (only the ripe ones, of course -- D).  He had his own food --- orange slices, seeds, etc.  Why would he do this to our tomatoes?

Such betrayal!  Dianne now covers the tomatoes with mosquito nets to keep the mockingbirds away.  And.... Bandido has a new job: guarding the tomatoes.  He loves his new job.

The pet picture of the day was taken when we returned home from Gonzales Burgers.  It is an action shot showing Bandido lunging for one-quarter of Dianne's one-half of a whole Gonzalez Burger.  That blur you see shows that he went after the burger at the speed of light!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mystery Dinner at Retama - busy times

Roger here....  We have been remiss with our postings, but we have been very busy.  Busy is good, but I do miss some of the quiet time.  Dianne has been busy helping reorganize and re-shelve the books in the Retama Village Library.  It turned into a three-day job.  

The rest of this post is pretty much all about me, so if you are only interested in Dianne, it is time to sign off.  (Dianne did take all the pictures.)

I am now serving a two-year term on the Retama Village Advisory Committee -- this year as vice-chair, next year as chair.  Since I am coordinating all the social activities (along with the excellent work of another committee member), our quiet times seem to be a thing of the past (at least temporarily).  It seems like I have returned to a full-time job :-), but that is OK.  It has been fun so far. 

Equally as time-consuming (but so much fun) has been the annual Retama Village Murder Mystery Dinner.  I thought it would be a good time, so I auditioned for one of the roles.  (Auditioning was strenuous.  I told the director that I might be interested.  She said, "You got it!")

The Demise of the Downhome Dealers was set in Mossy Bottoms, Texas.  My role as Dickie Delaney  was described in the program as a country western band member, not the smartest cowboy this side of the Mississippi.  Okay, he's slow and stupid and madly in love with Dixie (the lead singer), but it is entirely unrequited.  (Oh, and my character also gets progressively drunk throughout the performance.) 

Here is the cast singing one of the hit songs from our latest CD. 

This is a very sad scene when Dixie tells me that she loves me only as a brother.

Here I am clinging to Dixie's leg after another rejection.

I try to commit suicide, but shoot off my big toe instead.

My amazing rendition of: "I wish I was in Dixie."

The sad story goes on and on, ending in two murders, but "I dint do it!"

A shot of the murderess.

A shot of the audience.

What fun it was to do this among friends!  

Dianne here:  Roger is being modest -- he was very 
funny in his role as Dickie the drunk cowboy, and the audience laughed and laughed.  He will be known in "these parts" as Dickie from now on!  I'm including another photo of the "curtain call" showing the entire cast.  It really was a fun evening, with good food and good friends.

Roger's teachers reading this blog won't be surprised at his thespian efforts -- they all remember Roger's parts in the skits in the annual lip sync contest held at his middle school.  The teachers (and Roger, the principal) let their hair down every year and joined the student show with their own skits. One year Roger even swung across the stage on a rope as "Guitarzan!"  A classic, for sure.  (The students loved it, by the way!)  

Roger wasn't sure he wanted to write about himself and his part in the murder mystery, but I made it known that it was his turn to write the blog.  Back to Roger....  

The pet pictures of the day showcase Bandido's good friend, Rowdy the beagle, and his owner, James (our new friend), with his cute granddaughter, Naomi.  James and his wife are from Switzerland and are spending the winter at Retama Village.  Naomi and her mom were visiting for the holiday season.  (The poodle with James and Naomi is Jagger -- another of Bandido's many friends at the dog park)