Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Troubles in Paradise (only minor ones)

Roger here...  You all know the song that goes:  "Trouble....., trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble...."  You know! The song from the insurance commercial with the dog.  Well, despite all the good things here, we have had a few minor troubles.  The opening picture is the highlight of our troubles, but we'll get to that later.

Let's start with the Texas clover in our yard.  It has been raining frequently here, and with that rain comes broadleaf weeds in the lawn.  Overnight, the clover took over a large portion of our very green lawn.  The resident horticultural manager, Victor, told us that we would need to pull it by hand before applying fertilizer and herbicide.  He also showed us that Texas clover, unlike Indiana clover, has THORNS.  Everything in Texas seems to have thorns.  So, we spent a day pulling clover out of the yard.  It really wasn't that big a job.  But wow, the clover here, if that's what it is, does indeed have burr-like thorns!

One of my responsibilities in our community is to oversee the many and varied activities.  An event that I did not organize, but have been looking forward to for a while is our Pirate Party.  It was scheduled for Saturday.  The weather prediction for Saturday included cloudy conditions with a 40% chance of rain and a high in the low 60s.  Pretty yucky for an all-day and evening event to be held outside.  The event has been postponed for a few days.  So, in the mean-time our forlorn pirate flag hangs quietly in the window, and the ingredients for serving grog to 100 people sit on our coach house floor.  (Fortunately, grog ingredients do not spoil.)  More about the Pirate Party in the next post.

The next event was only troublesome to our dogs.  Dianne and I thought it was a hoot.  Our normally quiet evening walk with the dogs turned into a spectator event (lots of neighbors gathered) when a very large tarantula crossed the street in front of us.  Bandido and Tequila were indignant because we would not let them play with it. 

The next item is really more of a solution than a problem.  Remember the trouble we had with Dianne's beloved birds pecking at her beloved tomatoes?  I recently made a cage out of PVC pipe and netting that will hopefully solve the problem.  All but a couple of our tomatoes are gone, but amazingly there are new yellow flowers.  I think we are going to have another crop.

For the last couple of months, my tongue has been finding sharp places behind my upper front teeth that did not used to be there.  Not good news.  I was afraid that my smile would soon be turning into a snaggle-toothed spectacle.  I investigated the cost of capping those teeth in Indiana.  Even with insurance, it was more than we could comfortably afford. I carefully investigated the cost, quality and risks of having the work done in Progreso, Mexico.  After getting recommendations from several of my friends, I set up an appointment across the border --- just a walk across a bridge.  The recommended dentist was trained in the United States and actually lives in the United States.  He confirmed the need for capping my front teeth.  He guaranteed a cost that was 20% of the cost in Indiana.  His office was sterile.  His equipment was up-to-date.  He did the initial work during my first visit while I watched people crossing the border through the window.  Check out my new temporary front teeth.  The final caps are being crafted in the U.S., and will be in place before the end of the month.

Our biggest trouble of late involved insects.  Dianne is horribly afraid of roaches.  I think their size scares her,  but that is not the problem.  The problem is a colony of teeny, tiny fire ants.  A few days ago, while walking the dogs, Tequila decided to take a, ahem, dump in a vacant lot.  While Dianne was cleaning up the poop, I noticed that she had stepped into an ant colony.  I recognized that they were fire ants and urged her to, "GET OUT OF THERE!"  She did move away, and then removed her shoes and began flicking off the ants.  When I told her they were fire ants, she informed me that fire ants were bigger.  I countered with, "No they're not, I know what they look like." After a brief, "sure you do" look, we moved on.  Ten yards down the road, she said, "OMG, I need to go back to the coach house, my feet are on fire." Sometimes being right is not the best thing.

So the opening picture is of  Dianne's feet in a vinegar bath, covered with baking soda.  (Check out the cool pajamas in this picture.)  The next day, one of her ankles was swollen so much that her ankle bone was not visible.  Helpful blog searches resulted in other remedies:  pennies taped to the bites, rubbing the bites with aloe from our aloe plant in the back yard, Benedryl, Neosporin......   Days have passed and the bites are still an issue, but less so.  So far, the thing that has worked best involved popping the blisters with a needle, then spraying them with peroxide, then scrubbing them with alcohol, then applying more Neosporin and bandaids.  They are getting better each day, but what an unexpected ordeal.

Despite a few irritations, good things have happened here since the last post.

Yesterday, Dianne's feet felt good enough for us to take the dogs for a four-mile walk at Bentsen Rio Grande State Park, next door.  The weather cleared and we had a great walk.  (Tequila made it the entire 4 1/2 miles this time without laying down in protest.  -- D.)  It is amazing how quickly mother nature recovers from adverse situations.  The picture below shows a shot into the jungle.  Two years ago, all of the ground cover was dead due to flooding from a hurricane.  If you look closely, you can still see some of the dead, black stems that have not yet decomposed.

We stopped at the hawk tower and saw a significant increase in the water level in the resaca (ox-bow lake).  It has not fully recovered from the drought (the two bodies of water are normally connected), but it is considerably better.  Everything is green again.

Today, I attended a class at the McAllen Medical Center to be certified in CPR with the use of an AED.  I have had CPR training several times in the past, but never with the corresponding use of an AED.  Glad I did this.

The pet picture of the day is a recent picture of Bandido --- maybe my favorite picture of my buddy.


Nancy and Bill said...

Oh Diane, that is so painful!! Those little buggers sure can cause a lot of pain;o((

Glad to see you are on the mend and able to enjoy the beautiful weather!!

Thanks for all your good wishes. We are really getting excited and hope to meet up with you guys...Down The Road:o))

Margie and Roger said...

We have been bitten with fire ants in Florida, but not to the extent Diane had. We maybe had 3 bites at the most. We used Ivy Dry (an OTC spray we had for poison ivy that a doctor recommended). Worked well.

That is a wonderful photo of Bandidto.

Hope your new teeth look great too.