Saturday, November 25, 2017

Out With The Old & In With The New...CAR!


I don't typically buy new cars all that often but I really got fed up with the Ford C-Max. While I enjoyed having another hybrid, I'm convinced Ford builds ALL their vehicles for tall Texan's. Even with the seat-belt at the lowest & a plastic clip to hold it down even lower, I still felt like I was getting choked. What really was annoying is the poor turning radius. It took several tries to turn into parking spaces & on some turns I had to make a wide turn just to avoid hitting a car. Neighbors who bought one had the same complaints. 

So, I endured it for 1 1/2 years & then I finally got fed up. So...I went on a mission to find a vehicle that I would enjoy. I tried another Prius & while I have had 2 & loved them the area we live in has lots of low drainage areas on the roads to prevent flooding. This is not good for low riding cars like the Prius so I started looking for "economical" SUV's or a mid size SUV. What I ended up with was a Honda CRV. I didn't really end up with it because I loved it & having had a 2002 model that I loved I knew I would be happy with it. I took 2 different test drives (2nd one to be sure I really liked it) with Al & we were both impressed with the car & liked it better than any of the others we took out on a test drive.

My requirements: I did not want a black, white or red. I test drove a silver the first day & liked it but when we went back the next day it had been sold....obviously it wasn't meant to be. That was ok because I realized that silver was so common I would have trouble finding it in the parking lot. So, what I ended up with was Gunmetal Metallic which turned out to be absolutely gorgeous. It is a deep, rich grey with hints of bluish purple tinge. I guess it was meant to be. I love the color & I got a good deal so bye, bye C-Max & hello CRV (again). I do have to say that the CRV has come a long way since my 2002 model CRV which I really loved.

My only complaint (not really) is I gave up 44-50 mpg for 29-34 mpg, but I love the car so I'm not going to complain. It's comfortable, fun to drive & handles like a dream, even if it does slow me down when I want to go faster. I do have to get used to having a car that is smarter than me. It slows me down when the speed limit changes or the car in front of me slows down, won't let me go into the lane next to me & pulls me back into my lane if I do veer over. It gives me all kinds of warnings when I'm doing something I shouldn't. So, not only do I have a smart phone but now I have a smart car. I've had it now for almost a month & I have to say it's very roomy, lots of storage in the back & even Al likes it.

Working with Clark Knapp in Pharr was really painless. Everyone was very accommodating & while they didn't have free popcorn & hot dogs (like Hacienda Ford) they were all very helpful & very easy to deal with. They price matched another dealer in the valley & gave us a very good price for my car!

Sunday, September 3, 2017


It's been a while since I've posted. Not much has been going on.

Grandson Noah graduated from high school (hard to believe how he has grown).
View from our house heading out to ride
Al went to his graduation in Alabama & en route he stayed at a hotel in Lake Charles, LA. While in the shower he slipped & fell & was taken to the ER. He had 3 fractured ribs & has been on "light duty" since then. He did manage to go to Noah's graduation & made it home but is still having some issues so he's taking it slow.

While he was gone handling Christi was an issue. She's very strong & likes chasing bunnies. I have never been able to walk her because of my shoulder & neck so Al did it. With him out of town for a week friends tried to help walk her but couldn't. Al was the only one able to handle her but with fractured ribs he was out of commission. So I had to put her in boot camp training. I worked with her every day working on leash & then doing fun play/training & got her a different leash so now even I can walk her. She's doing really well but I need to be the one walking her because Al isn't consistent & she needs that to sustain the level of training I do with her.

We have both been trying to stay active. Al has to be careful but we've been trying to stay in shape. My doctors are happy....Blood Pressure is stable. Blood Sugar has dropped below the "Diabetes" threshold & I've lost weight. 

The doctor gave me some knee braces now so I can walk a little bit with Al & the dogs & I have gotten the rein's back walking Christi so she doesn't regress with all the training I did with her again. In addition to the short walks I have been doing some water exercises to work my knees, hims & most important, my shoulders. Al has been joining me as well. I'm back on my recumbent trike 5 days a week & up to 6 miles & It's a lot of fun to ride & I really enjoy riding it & even pain. I really enjoy when I ride outside the community so I get to enjoy the scenery in the area & not just go around in circles in our community which gets a little boring. 

Christi & Shadow are doing well. Shadow is going to be 10 years old but watching him play with our 2 year old "wild indian" you'd never know it. He manages to keep up with her but paces himself. Our vet thinks she's keeping him young. Thank god he's smart enough to know when & how to pace himself so he doesn't over due it!  

We are blessed that our area was not impacted by Hurricane Harvey other than all of the hotels in the valley are booked solid & the shelves in the grocery store are missing a lot of items because of food being sent to the towns that were in the direct path of Harvey & also because our big grocery chain in Texas, HEB is based in San Antonio & has it's bakery in Houston so everyone in central, south & eastern TX is impacted to a certain extent, some much more than others.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Spring Is In The Air

Spring is in the air & boy are my shrubs doing well this year...finally!
Pride of Barbados

With the new irrigation system everything is doing fantastic. Shrubs that were stunted & not flowering are now very prolific. Shrubs that developed root rot & now thriving. 

For the first time I am having good luck with growing Jasmine & the fragrance is just amazing.

All of these are in our courtyard except for the Desert Rose

We are starting to see the butterflies in the garden but the hummingbirds haven't returned yet. But now my garden is ready for them! They should be very happy with all the natural nectar.

Our bottle brush tree that was planted in June, 2016 is now about 2 ft higher & wider & it is beautiful. We put this in to replace a queen palm that I hated. The first photo was taken right after it was planted & the close up will show you what the bottle brushes look like when they are in full bloom.
Desert Rose

We get to sit in our courtyard & look at all the beautiful flowers & colors. Quite a change from living in the Desert for 8 years!

Bottle Brush Tree

The photos below show the Bottle brush tree when it was planted a year ago & what it looks like now

Bottle Brush Tree 6/16
Courtyard 4/17

Front Planter Bed 4/17
All new plants except for the Robellini Palms on either end

Courtyard with new plants

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Mardi Gras Celebration Retama Village Style

I am so far behind in posting our vacation & our community Mardi Gras celebrate. So, I'm posting in
order of priority....our party! Don't let anyone tell you that us "old timers" in Retama Village don't know how to have fun. Of course this is NOT your ordinary 55+ community. We do our parade in style with beautifully decorated golf carts. Some of them were just amazing & I wish I could have gotten more photos because they were all awesome.

Do you know any community that has Border Patrol leading a Mardi Gras parade? Well we do here &
they love to join in & have fun with between catching the illegals of course! We love them & they love our cookies & parties! Don't let anyone tell you that living in the Rio Grande Valley isn't a safe place to live. Retama Village is the safest place you can be & the best place to live...not to mention party!

The golf cart on the right is our community manager. Carol. Carol & Jerry were very creative & did a great job!

Once the parade started people were throwing candy & beads to those of us standing around or sitting on the sidelines watching the parade. This was one fantastic celebration.

After the parade was over there was a party on the clubhouse patio where many were dancing & enjoying some decadent desserts.

Friday, December 30, 2016

South Padre Island

December 26-28

We had a very nice time while we were at South Padre Island. On Monday we headed to the island & on the way
we stopped in Port Isabel & had lunch at Pirates Landing. It's been 14 years since we've been to SPI & to Pirates Landing & we were not disappointed. Our lunch was very good.

Once we got to SPI we decided try restaurants that we have never been to rather than going to our old favorites. Since we had a BIG lunch we passed on dinner Monday. Tuesday morning we had the free breakfast buffet at the hotel which was mediocre at best. All the "bread" items were "white flour".

White bread & plain bagels. The muffins were miniature & intended to appeal to kids. Nothing healthy except an omelet at this buffet. The waffle was mediocre so I just ate a few bites. The egg dishes did not look very appealing so I passed. The omelet was made to order & they had a nice selection of veggies I could choose from.

On Tuesday afternoon we went out exploring to see all the changes that have happened since we left Texas back in 2003. We stopped at Rene's (Owned by Rene's in Mission). I was disappointed that it was just a gift shop & no restaurant but while there we checked out two places along the same strip shopping center & we came across Yummies Bistro (it was closed) & Gabriella's Italian Restaurant which was getting ready to open. They gave us menu's to look at & we decided to stick around & have an early dinner.

The food & service was fantastic & of course we both over indulged but walked it off on the beach. Everything is made from scratch
(no Sysco here), including the decadent desserts & each is made with their special "twist" to it. My favorite Italian meal is linguini with white clam sauce which is hard to find & they used fresh clams (still in the shell). I was in heaven. Al had his usual lasagna but he said it was the best he ever had. Not bad for a guy who doesn't get easily excited.

Based on reviews I read I decided to try Yummies Bistro for breakfast on Wednesday instead of the free, but not so good breakfast buffet. It was the best decision! I had a multi-grain waffle with pecans. It really was fantastic....even better than Cracker Barrel's pecan pancakes. Al had the Tex-Mex scramble that he said was very good.

Our itinerary:
Monday after we settled into our room we stopped over at the Birding & Nature Center which was cross the street from the hotel....very convenient & what a great place.

We did a dolphin tour on Tuesday with South Padre Island Dolphin Research & Sea Life Nature Center. This is a small tour that only seats 6 per pontoon. It really was so much nicer than going on the big boatswith a bunch of people & not getting that personal touch. Scarlet & her husband George do an outstanding job. George was out Captain along with his dolphin spotter, Gorgi (one of their dogs). She was a
hoot! Every time she heard their "sonar"under water she would bark & point to where they were & she was right on every time. George & Scarlet communicate with each other when dolphin are spotted & we sure did see a lot of them. It was very hard to capture photos because they are gone by the time you hit the button but I did get a couple of decent ones. We had lots of sightings thanks to Gorgi.

The photos are posted in the order taken each day
The parrot is one of several birds in an aviary in the same area as the Pirates Landing & the Dolphin tour. The aviary is maintained by Davy Jones Locker. After we checked in at the hotel on
Monday we went to the Birding & Nature Center was our second stop which was across the street from our hotel. The turtle's were in the front of the building & the heron was wandering around in the bay side.
Tuesday afternoon was the highlight of our stay, the Dolphin Tour
Wedding Cake

The foodie photos were taken at Gabriella's

Linguini with Clams


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Courtyard Face Lift

Ok, now that we have the Pergola & fans our plan is to spend more time in our
yard & have our friends over.

It's hard to believe that after only a year our concrete was badly stained & had lots of chips in it. I wanted to cover up all the stains & chips in the concrete & as long as we were going to do that I wanted it perk it up.

Several neighbors have used a local company to paint the concrete surface with a concrete/paint mixture. I chose colors to coordinate with the house & yard furniture & then chose a mosaic design with speckling.

The results were fantastic!

The 1st photo is "before"

Tomorrow we have our first day to entertain!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Our New Pergola

We waited a little more than a year to finally make a decision that we needed a

Our next door neighbors put one in & we checked it out along with several other neighbors before making the final decision. 

George Smith came over & gave us the estimate & we decided to go forward with it. We also decided that we should explore the option of putting in fans. Again more research...the common theme was yes, do it. When I asked those that had them installed several responded that they should have put in more
than one. So, based on the fact that our courtyard & pergola extended 25 feet we decided to get 2 large fans. 

I called for estimates on installing the electrical & fans & of course my buddy Rene Villareal (R&R cooling & Electric) was not only the cheapest but he planned on doing it the "right way". This is why I use him for everything!

So, the pergola & fans are now in. It looks fantastic & boy is it cutting down on
the sun & heat...even inside the house. Rene's guys, Berto & Rene (different last name) came over to drill & run the wires to the Pergola on the first day. George started on Tuesday & was finished on Thursday except for a couple of last minute touches done Friday morning. Berto & Rene came back Friday morning & installed the fans, set up the 2 remotes, mounted them & installed the switch on the inside next to the patio door.

We rearranged the furniture so that when sitting on the sofa & chairs everyone can see the planter bed with all the flowers. We also have new bushes (Croton mammy) & tree (Crepe Myrtle) that are very colorful & will look great when they get a little bigger. So, we have a nice relaxing environment in our courtyard now...& it will be cooler, which is even better.

The finished job looks fantastic!