Monday, December 21, 2015

Busy Times at our Winter Home in Texas

Foggy Sunrise Vista from our Back Yard

Roger here....   This is a long overdue post (our first since returning to our winter home in Mission, Texas).  We tend to follow routines during the winter months that would soon become uninteresting in a blog, due to repetitiveness. 

 Nonetheless, ping pong for Roger, genealogy for Dianne, happy hours with friends, daily morning 3-4 mile walks with our dogs, organizing the clubhouse library (Dianne), volunteering at a local pet rescue, doctor visits, bike rides, etc. do keep us quite busy.  That being said, we thought that a few of our activities might be of interest.

Colorful Green Jays at a feeder
BENTSEN RIO GRANDE VALLEY STATE PARK....  If you follow our blog, you know that we spend time here.  This year we started a Sunday morning ritual of taking long walks with the dogs in this nearby (walking distance) park. 

 This morning we walked 7.5 miles through the park and along the Rio Grande trail.  This trail was destroyed by flooding (due to a hurricane) a few years ago, but now has a new walking surface and some interesting views.

The plant life is slowly recovering from the flood waters that were several feet deep. It is sad, though, that there is not a single cactus along the trail where they were once abundant in both numbers and variety.  Most were much taller than Dianne (even taller than me :-).

Photo taken on the same trail in February 2010, before the hurricane and flood
A park ranger has told us that the sole remaining cactus in the park survived after being planted atop a tree by the birds before the flooding.   It is still there, high above the grassy brush.

NEW FURNITURE....  During last summer's travels we purchased some new furniture for our casita.  The side-by side recliners...

... and side tables are so comfortable.  They arrived a few weeks after our return.  Getting them out of the packing materials and in front of the TV took half a day (well worth it).  Dismantling the pallet and sawing it into pieces that fit into our garbage can took considerably more time.  Note to self --- no more deliveries on wooden pallets.

Our other furniture purchase  was an oak, mission style bench (additional seating for company).  We managed to lug this home from Northern Indiana in our motor home, moving it on and off the bed each time we broke camp.  After we put it in place, the cat quickly decided "to heck with company, they obviously bought this for me."  (Note the pet blanket that keeps cat hair off the seat cushion.)

BLOOD MOON PARTY...  Impromptu parties are the best.  We joined several of our neighbors in the middle of the street to watch the lunar eclipse and subsequent shadow that turned the silver moon into a red moon.  Too bad we did not have a camera capable of capturing that spectacular image.


Margaritas with Barb and Greg at El Disco (a wonderland of Mexican wares --- with a bar.

The Red Panty Bar.  Check out the guy with the new hat.
We spent a day in Nuevo Progreso, a Mexican Border Town, with good friends Barb and Greg.  Nuevo Progreso is an easy town to visit.  We parked on the Texas side and walked across the Rio Grande bridge to the center of this small Mexican town that is a magnet for winter Texans.  It is full of dental offices, pharmacies, locals peddling their wares, oh, and places to enjoy margaritas.  

VISITORS!...   That looks like my brother, Dick, and his wife, Pam, in the car behind the Retama Village gate.  Dick had a business meeting in San Antonio so he rented a car and made a four-hour drive straight south to visit us for a long weekend.  It is always good to spend time with my baby brother, my only sibling, and his sweet wife, Pam.

Dianne always prepares delicious meals when company arrives.  Check out these breakfast enchiladas.

There is more company to come.  Our Indiana camping buddies, Chuck and Cindy, will be spending a good amount of time with us in a couple of weeks.  Friends, Mike and Brenda, will be visiting for a few days in February.


Foreground ---  Rio Grande River.    Background --- burning sugar cane field
This weekly informal gathering takes place under a palapa (grass-roofed pavilion) next to the Rio Grande River.  It involves a group of neighborhood guys solving the problems (too many of them) of the world while consuming adult beverages. 

CHRISTMAS...  The village always looks great at Christmas-time.  The clubhouse is festive and individual homes with their bright lights are fun to walk by during our nightly walks with the dogs.  The lights above hang from the pergola over our patio in the back yard.

Our friend Marina made a perfect elf!
Christmas in the Village is an annual activity in which neighbors follow a tractor-drawn wagon full of carolers as they travel to selected homes for snacks and beverages.  This elf sought out individuals, giving Hershey Kisses to the good ones, and atomic fire bombs to the not-so-good.  (I am not telling which I received).  By the way --- I have a new favorite holiday drink --- creme de menthe and chocolate vodka in a glass coated with chocolate syrup.  Yum!

BIKING...  My major exercise routine (other than walking) is riding several miles on my bike. I used to swim laps, but a scary bout with skin cancer (now gone) prevents me from swimming in the bright Texas sunlight.  So after covering up with sunscreen and UPF clothing, biking has become my new way to stay fit.  I often ride in the state park, but I also enjoy ten-mile pedals along a canal and through the Texas scrub on a nearby bike trail.  

LANDSCAPING...  I have always enjoyed landscaping around the houses we have owned.  Our little casita is no exception.  The wooden gate in the back of this photo leads to a storage/utility area.  Our covered patio is to the left.  Originally, the gate opened onto mulch.  It did not work well because the mulch was usually too deep to fully open the gate.  Another problem was the traveling mulch that found its way onto the patio.  My solution was to cut the mulched planting area in half with a divider, and create a flagstone and river rock walking area.  I think it looks better, no more mulch on the patio, and the gate now opens.

Dianne and I planted a Mexican flame vine and two butterfly vines in the now narrower mulched area.  When we bought the butterfly vines we assumed they attracted butterflies.  As it turns out, the name comes from the seed pods that look like butterflies.

Bandido loves to intimidate the rabbits that goad him on the other side of the wire fence.  His lunges toward the fence were destroying a small cactus that Dianne planted.  The solution was adding more cactus both in the ground and in pots, creating a barrier to his attacks.  He can still get to the corner, but he has to run around the spiky plants.  It seems to be working.

Greg's Mist is an invasive plant that DOES attract hundred of butterflies.  We love watching the butterflies, but we do not enjoy having the plant invade other areas of the garden.  Soooo ...  I build a wall out of tumblestones to contain the area.  I jokingly refer to it as the Trump Wall; however, I have no hope of having Mexico pay for it :-).  Unfortunately, Tequila now thinks this is a great place to hunt for lizards.  

NEW NEIGHBORS... lots of them.  We are thoroughly enjoying our new next-door neighbors, Don and Sue.  It looks like our once lonely casita at the far end of Retama Village is soon-to-be full of other new neighbors, as well.  Lots of construction going on!
Our casita is at the far right of the picture.

SUNSETS....   This post started with a foggy sunrise.  Let's end it with a few of the jaw-dropping sunsets that we frequently see.  As Dianne will affirm (with rolled eyes), I do love taking pictures of sunsets.


Tradition requires that we end our posts with pictures of our furry kids.  First, a tug-o-war with a not-long-for-this-world new toy taking the place of the traditional rope.

Next, Tequila patiently waiting to lick the left-over yogurt from my breakfast dish.  Hard to resist those eyes. 


Anonymous said...

great post. loved the pics of plants and of course your little 4 legged extended family

Steve said...

Looks like your 'neighborhood' became quite popular. Always good to see your fantastic dogs.