It’s Been Too Long

As I mentioned earlier here, my time over the past year has largely been devoted my volunteer “job” to help some family members get a new business up and running here.  My one-year commitment to help them is now over, and I’m happy to report that they are doing well on their own for the most part.  I had the opportunity to help them out doing something I enjoyed, and I will never regret my time and effort spent over the past year, especially if the business continues to grow and thrive for a long time to help support their family.

So, what else has been going on over the past few months?  Well, here’s a rundown of the high points.

We spent two glorious weeks in Alaska in early July!  We celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary early, actually almost a year early, as well as my 60th birthday back in May.  If I had a bucket list trip in life, this was definitely it.  It was absolutely wonderful and fulfilled my longtime desire to visit Alaska and see (and photograph) as much of the natural beauty and wildlife there as possible.

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View of Mt. Denali, third tallest in the world, at 2 a.m. in July from our hotel room in Talkeetna

We spent the entire two weeks touring on our own, mostly by land, opting to not take a more traditional cruise trip on our first trip.  That was such a good decision for us while we are still in good health and could handle the rigors of a more physical trip like this one where we were moving around and spending only a short time in each location.  I also got back into more serious photography during the trip, and I have some truly wonderful photos as souvenirs, especially my wildlife photos.  For me, this trip ranks up there with trips to Hawaii, and in some respects, I enjoyed this epic two-week trip even more than our jaunts to the islands.

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A moose posing by the road inside Denali National Park

I spent a lot of time doing research for this trip over the past few years, which is part of the fun for me, and it definitely paid off.  I don’t think I would change a single thing for a first trip to Alaska with two weeks to explore there.  And, to answer one question up front, we did not make this trip by RV at any point, and I don’t regret that decision at all.  In fact, I don’t think we would ever make this trip by RV or rent one there, after visiting with some folks we met that either took their own RVs or opted to rent one up on arrival in the state.  While we definitely hope we can go back again someday, I just don’t think it will be by RV at any point.

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Bald eagle on the morning of the 4th of July in Kenai Fjords National Park

After flying non-stop from Denver to Anchorage, our route took us from Anchorage to Seward for the 4th of July by train, Seward to Anchorage by bus to pick up a rental car for the rest of the trip, Anchorage to Palmer, Palmer to Talkeetna, Talkeetna to the Denali National Park area, DNP to Fairbanks, and Fairbanks back to Anchorage.  If I had to list my top three things from the trip, those would be…

Our 13-hour tour deep into Denali National Park,
Our all day boat tour of Kenai Fjords National Park, and
Our fun paddleboat tour in Fairbanks.

But, wow, there are so many other wonderful places and sights in the state, too.  We knew we might never return for a land trip like this one, so we hit the state hard to see as much as we could in two weeks.  This trip will no doubt be one of the highlights of our lives.  It was just that awesome.  I’m looking forward to sharing more about our trip here soon and sharing more of my photos.

We continue to travel closer to home in our RV, although we’ve taken fewer RV trips so far this year due to the Alaska trip.  We’ve had friends along on most of our RV trips this year, and that’s been fun for us, especially with the couple that we so often seem to have along on our RV trips these days.  The four of us all now have kayaks, and we’ve really enjoyed having those on our trips lately.  Kayaking is so much fun, much more than I first thought it would be.

We sold our rent house a couple of months ago.  After considering our options after the sale closed, we opted to get out of the rental market for several reasons but primarily to use some of that money to start updating our own home.  We are now deep into the planning stage of a major kitchen remodel, including tearing down a pony wall that separates our main kitchen from the breakfast room, tearing out all existing cabinets, and basically gutting the main kitchen area.  I can already tell this is going to be a money pit, but our kitchen is in dire need of a decent update after 30 plus years.  Hopefully, the big work will start soon after the first of the year, as I need my kitchen in December.

My brother-in-law will soon be going into a nursing home due to the quick and terrible toll that his Parkinson’s dementia has taken on him over the past year.  This makes me very sad because his physical health is still mostly good overall.  This process has been extremely hard on his immediate family, as there was disagreement a few months ago between all of them about the best plan for him going forward.  Now, though, everyone (supposedly) is in agreement that this is the best option for him.  It’s still just so sad, though.  We also agree that it is past time for him to make that move.

I recently watched the horrific flooding in Central Texas on television and online as it tore through many beloved areas where we vacationed when was a child and places we still visit today, too.  The big bridge in Kingsland that was washed away was adjacent to the cabins where my family always vacationed in the summers during my childhood and even later in my life.  As I watched the live video of the bridge washing away that morning, tears came as so many memories from childhood seemed to just wash away, too.  We spent the Bicentennial 4th of July in 1976 watching the wonderful boat parade and fireworks from that very bridge.  These days, we regularly visit nearby Inks Lake State Park in our RV, but it also flooded this fall and suffered from a bad fire earlier this year.  But, my fellow Texans are resilient, and they will recover.

I’ve been down for a couple of weeks with a bad cold and hope to get more rest over the next few days to hopefully help get past the worst of this stuff.  I set a goal to write an update here this week, though, and I’m happy to at least get that done now because it’s just been way too long since I’ve updated here.

I hope all you nice folks are doing well, and I look forward to catching up soon.

 

 

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Busy, Busy, Busy!

My goodness, it HAS been a while since I’ve checked in here.  All is well, and I’ve just been busy.  Here’s some of what’s been occupying my time over the past few months.

I’m a volunteer working gal!  I’ve been helping a younger extended family member get a new business up and running, and it’s mostly been lots of fun for me while helping them with some *much needed* advice from my own experiences in this area.  I’ve also had the opportunity to learn more in some things that peaked my curiosity, too.  I’m still involved in this effort, so it will continue to take some of my time each week for awhile until they are ready to take things over 100% on their own.

We celebrated Hubby’s 60th birthday the first week of October in Washington D. C.!  I have been there several times, but he had never been to see any of the great sights there.  It was a truly fabulous and memorable trip, and we were joined by some friends and our daughter from California.  While I still managed to get lots of great photos, I didn’t really focus on photography.  It was a time to just celebrate, enjoy our company and see the many great sights!  Early October was a great time to visit the area as the weather was perfect and crowds were light.

 

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The Jefferson Memorial on our Monuments by Moonlight Tour

 

Hubby and I continue to travel by RV regularly for short trips, mostly returning to our favorite state parks.  We nearly froze to death in central Texas the week after Christmas this year, though, as a fairly epic icy cold blast hit and kept the temperatures below freezing for an extended period of time.  I think the lowest overnight temp was about 19 degrees, our coldest temp to date while camping in the RV.  BRRRRR!!!  That trip mostly broke my desire to go out on another winter RV trip this year.  Fortunately, another couple met us there for the duration of the trip, so we were able to pass some of the time sightseeing together, playing cards inside and sharing lots of good food.

 

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Camping at Inks Lake State Park the week after Christmas was a *cold* experience!

 

However, we finally enjoyed a long weekend in the RV in early March in warmer weather that was just delightful.  It’s always good to go check on our favorite bison pals a couple of times each year!  On our most recent trip, two of these big ol’ guys surprised us while hiking on a trail at the bottom of the canyon, and we had to turn around when they didn’t budge.  Two more also darted out in front of us from behind some brush while we were walking on one of the main park roads and scared us to death, narrowly missing a pickup that was driving across the road, too.  That’ll wake you up!  We also enjoyed a great weekend at this park with several other couples back in October, too.

 

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It’s always fun to see our bison pals at Caprock Canyons State Park!

 

Without a doubt, there are *lots* of winter Texans around our area right now.  Just in the short time we were here, we saw eight RVs camped from out of state, with none of the states being close to Texas except Colorado.  Most were from the northeastern part of the country.  No doubt, this is just one of the reasons it’s getting harder and harder to get weekend RV sites in our area, pretty much year-round, along with increasing numbers of people in the state taking up RVing themselves.  Truly, it’s getting to be a huge issue for us, and we’re resigned now to booking sites months in advance, but that wasn’t even good enough on one occasion last year.  Bummer!  I cannot even begin to imagine how full-timers attempt to live in Texas now, unless they are satisfied to spending weekends in Wal-Mart parking lots.

There’s some big excitement coming up for us this summer, as we’re finally going to take my “big bucket list” trip in July!  I turn 60 in May, and June starts our 40th year of marriage together, with that anniversary coming in June 2019.  So, we are combining the celebration of these big milestones and taking one big trip this summer while things have seemingly worked out quite well for us to do that.  More to come later, but for now, I can definitely say it’s not at RV trip.  I think there is a very real possibility that neither of us may want to leave there, too.  And as we’ve worked on adjusting our allotted vacation days to do this, we’ve also discovered that taking two weeks off is actually something that is now feasible for us going forward, which is exciting in itself, if we want to do that in coming years prior to retirement.  We’ve never taken a two-week vacation since we’ve been married.

My neck issue is greatly improved since the procedure last summer, but in late January, I hurt my left hand, wrist, lower arm, most likely from lifting heavy boxes.  It’s most likely just a bad sprain, and I’ve been wearing an ugly black brace ever since.  It seems a bit better, but I think it’s going to just take time to heal, especially since I can’t really keep from using it regularly.

My apologies for not checking in with my favorite bloggers here over the past few months.  I guess there are times that I just need to put some things away to adequately focus on other areas, and this has been such a time.  I hope to catch up with you all soon, though.  And for my fellow RVers, we saw the RV Wanderlust couple’s RV on our most recent outing at Caprock Canyons earlier this month, as their website was shared on the front-end of their RV in our campground.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to meet them personally, as they pretty much pulled in right before we departed.  I don’t know if any of you have met them or not during your own travels.

I’ll try very hard to not take such long blogging breaks in the future!

The Worst of Times, The Best of People

Today, I want to share some thoughts in light of one of the most devastating storms to hit our country, Hurricane Harvey, because even though my area was not affected, it directly impacted many family members and friends of mine, including my best friend and her family and my dear cousins and their families that are scattered across the Houston and Beaumont areas.

The storm has brought the worst of times, but it has also brought out the very best in people, and I thank you for reading today, as I bear a bit of my heart.

It’s been a terrible roller coaster of emotions over the past two weeks, and now Hurricane Irma is posed to possibly do even more devastation to our beloved nation.

I teared up or cried more than once for my own loved ones and others devastated by the storm…

…in fear for the safety of my loved ones that I was powerless to help directly during the storm.
…as the rain unbelievably just kept coming down with no end in sight.
…at nearly every story of brave everyday people that showed up to help with no expectation of reward, often risking their own lives in the process.
…every time I heard a loved ones’ voice on the other end of the phone, just knowing they were safe and sound, at least for that moment.

I even discussed this storm-caused emotional roller coaster with a friend.  I’ve certainly waited with anticipation in the past as hurricanes and other storms have wreaked havoc on my loved ones in this area, but the extended time period of this storm made the waiting game almost intolerable at times.  And, I was far from the storm’s direct impact.  I cannot even fathom how bad it was for those in it’s midst.

Even though many of us aren’t really talking about it yet because of the dire situation at present, the bad news is still going to keep coming for quite some time.  I just can’t go there right now, but I know it’s not going anywhere.

The Worst of Times, The Unprecedented Storm(s)

Hurricane Harvey was an unprecedented storm.  Even though I live in the state, I’m still having trouble just comprehending the size and scope of the devastation.  I doubt any of us, except those on the ground in the affected areas, really know just how bad the devastation is, but I’ve had a little better idea, thanks to direct reports from those I know in the area.

The damage is now done, both physically and emotionally, to those in the area.  My family members and friends in the impacted areas thankfully had little damage, but they all know people that have been severely impacted.

Now, the long-term work recovery work is set to begin.  Of course, this is prime hurricane season, and everyone knows that seasonal rains and possible future storms are certainly not out of the realm of possibility at this point.  It’s just too much to consider right now, though, but Irma is certainly keeping us mindful of that possibility.

There’s been another sad storm over the past few days, too, a storm of negativity and division, often political in nature, like none I can remember with previous storms.

I was so shocked to see inappropriate, if not hateful, comments from the onset of the storm from some people, and I wonder if these people have ever known empathy at all, including the “keyboard warriors” that just cannot put “first things first” in a time of crisis.  These people also do not realize they are only hurting their chances of getting others to sympathize with their position at times like this when they spew their offensive or ill-timed comments, but one has to wonder if they even care.  Probably not.

“There are no politics in eight feet of water. There are human beings in eight feet of water.” — Sandra Bullock (donated 1 million dollars to the Red Cross)

However, I also noticed more people (who are typically quiet) come out against this negativity and division-sowing in light of Harvey’s devastation.  They are experiencing the truth first-hand, and they are calling out those that don’t speak it.  Maybe it’s time to do just that.

No doubt, most of these argument-prone, negative folks tend to be angry people.  These types of people are quite foreign to me, and honestly, I’m glad.  I don’t look for opportunities to read or hear their comments, but they are becoming almost unavoidable to see and hear at times, making this already bad situation truly “the worst of times” in an even bigger, and terribly sad, way.

There is supreme joy in helping and supporting someone in need, and I wonder if some are ever going to know that joy in their lifetimes.  It’s never too late to start being helpful, rather than hurtful, in both words and deeds.  That change can begin today, and it is a choice everyone can make right now.

Whew, thanks for letting me vent just a bit.  Like I said, it’s been a very emotional couple of weeks.

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Now, for the rest of the story, the stuff that has brought me to tears so many times over the past few days.

I want to document and remember when the “rainbow” appeared after the storm.

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The Best of People, The Resiliency of Victims and Everyday Heroes

My fellow Texans are a special kind of family.  I don’t know if people in other states feel this way or not, but I say with no hesitation whatsoever that I believe the majority of Texans feel this way.  If you’re a Texan, you’re family, and those of us not affected by the storm are going to be there for you as soon as possible in whatever way we can.  We’ve been with you in prayer even before this monster storm hit your areas, and we’re coming soon with everything we can possibly think of to help you get through this.

Texans don’t expect others to really understand who we are, but we love it when they get a glimpse of our true selves.  Right now, my fellow Texans are shining like bright lights in the darkness of Harvey’s aftermath, representing what the majority of us really and truly believe, and others are finally noticing some new things about us.

I’ve often wondered how others think we are not a diverse and loving people, when we are truly one of the most diverse and outwardly loving peoples anywhere.  We are too often stereotyped incorrectly to those elsewhere, but without a doubt, we know who we are.  That’s what matters most.

Love thy neighbor.  That pretty much sums it up, I think.

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Let me slightly digress for just a minute.

Texas can be hard… very hard.  Just look at the storms that hit us routinely.  We get everything from ice, deep snow, gale force winds, blowing dirt, huge dirt haboobs, frigid cold, blistering heat, huge wildfires, high humidify, flooding rains, tropical storms and massive hurricanes.  We also have the lovely privilege of having mosquitoes, love bugs (that are totally disgusting), rattlesnakes, alligators and other critters that keep us on our toes in many areas.

It’s just part of our Texas lifestyle.  We deal with it and keep going on with our lives, even if we let our frustration with these things be known, usually in a sarcastic or humorous manner.  Humor really helps.

But with all these routine challenges, most people elsewhere have no clue what some in our Texas family have endured this year, even before this storm hit.  National news outlets tend to overlook many stories that affect us, especially those of us in flyover country.

It’s been a tough year for many in my Texas family.  I’m especially thinking of the cowboys that lost their lives in a monster wildfire earlier this year in the Panhandle while trying to save their livestock.

Real cowboys still very much exist.  This was more than their job.  It was their life and their love.

Folks, these wonderful young people burned to death in a truly horrific way.

I teared up when I heard this story on the news and bawled longer than I care to admit when I read this excellent Texas Monthly feature about all of them.

If you haven’t read this story, you should, no matter who you are or where you live.  It’s long and detailed, and I’ll bet you will never be the same after reading it if you are an empathetic person at all.  Read that article and start to understand more about some of my nearby Texas family members.  This one hit especially close to home for me.

Sometimes we need to hear the difficult stories and cry the tears.

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Now, back to Harvey, and a look to the words of Luke in the book of Acts.

Acts 20:35  In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the LORD Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Hero Texans have been first on the scene to help each other during and immediately after the hurricane.  I’ve heard just a few of the first-hand accounts from our best friends in one of the worst-hit areas south of Houston.  While they were still not completely out of harm’s way themselves, our friends were actively helping their neighbors in life-threatening situations, and they were just two among many doing the same thing.

Hero Texans took matters into their own hands to not only rescue their fellow Texans, but they went after their pets and their livestock, too.  If anyone knows the value of life of any kind, it’s a Texan, and that includes dogs, cats, cattle, deer, horses, pigs and even bats that were stranded.  I saw all these rescues on television and bawled more than once.  And while we just have to admire the resiliency of all those huge floating fire ant colonies that organized to survive on top of the flood waters, we probably won’t shed any tears if they don’t make it!

I had to laugh when I saw this quote that was sent to me by text by a friend as the small boat rescues were still going on.  Laughter’s been a short commodity lately, for sure.

I’m tellin’ you guys, Texas needs to erect a statue honoring “random average dude with a bass boat.”

These hero Texans are just some of the “best of people,” and if you’re only hearing these harrowing stories on the national news, you can’t even begin to know just how bad it’s really been and likely will be in the days to come.  I don’t think anyone can at this point.  For now, it’s all just one day at a time.

One of the stories I especially love is the story of Mattress Mack.  You’ll not regret watching this great story!  What an inspiration in words and deeds… and heart.  Honestly, I really don’t think he’s an exception either, but I’m glad he’s been featured right now.  I can name at least a dozen older men I know that are just like him, including my own father, who passed away in 1999.

Another “best of people” focus today is all the many volunteers and state and federal agencies coming like the cavalry to help from all over the nation and around the globe.  You are all hereby adopted as fellow Texans, and we love you!  That’s includes all you Cajun Navy volunteers and all you folks with big trucks filled to the brim with food, water, clothes, diapers, medicine and all manner of goods that are desperately needed.  So many people are in need of your help, and by the looks of things, this relief effort may set records… in a good way.

These heroes are just now getting into the affected areas, and their stories will be told soon.  Texans strive to be self-sufficient, but we know that as much as we would like to not be a bother to others right now, this monster named “Harvey” was just too big and destructive, like no other storm in a very long time, if ever.  We welcome your charity, and we’ll make sure you know it, too.  Just watch how we come help you when it’s your turn in the storm.

Another “best of people” focus is a little surprising, as it’s all the fabulous people and groups harnessing the power of social media and newer technology, like Zello, to help those in the affected areas.  This is the first time I’ve witnessed just how the social media impact can be utilized to speed up both rescue and relief efforts.  No doubt, it helped save lives and is helping to get specific aid into needed areas.  We should all go download Zello on our phones now, too, just in case.

Social media now provides another way to channel assistance to some smaller groups that are closer to the devastation in a timely way.  Our first monetary donation was to one of these small groups that was on high ground in League City that was overwhelmed with the need to assist many people in surrounding areas that were severely flooded, a first for them.  They had a “donate” button on their Facebook page, making the donation process so easy for us and timely for them.

My final “best of people” spotlight is all the churches and local non-profit agencies in the area that continue to meet the most immediate needs of those that are hurting.  While many of them have suffered damage themselves, church members are selflessly out helping others.  Some have also suffered the loss of members of their communities, as is the case with our best friends, unfortunately.

Right now, there is an urgent need to get all the wet material out of homes before black mold begins to grow in the heat.  It is monumental and dangerous task, and the magnitude is almost incomprehensible.  Local churches have accepted the challenge to get this done in many, many areas, and I’m aware of two local churches that are working miracles right now in this area.

Seeing the “best of people” in full force over the past week has given me hope again that we as a nation are still comprised of mostly good, quiet, decent people, rather than the divisive minority that often seems to grab the spotlight.  I’ve honestly wondered if our country turned a sad corner, but today, I don’t feel that way.  The silent majority has shown its true colors once again.

Our Response, Date Night

Hubby and I enjoyed an impromptu date night that consisted of a tasty dinner at Costco, followed by purchasing supplies at both Costco and Wal-Mart for a nearby hurricane relief group.  We have decided to give more than we have in the past, hopefully helping several relief efforts, and we had a fun time together on our shopping trip, knowing that every single item was going to make a difference to someone that’s hurting.

Both clerks that checked us out asked if we were buying relief supplies, and I suspect the case of diapers at Costco was probably a dead give-away, given that we are not spring chickens by any stretch.  I got very teary, though, as I looked around at others in the checkout lines at Costco and saw that many of them had cases of diapers and other likely relief supplies in their baskets, too.

We also got some strange looks when we checked out at Wal-Mart with 20 bottles of bug spray, but it gave me the opportunity to explain what we were doing to man behind us in line, and he pulled out of the line to go buy his own supplies to take to the church nearby.

I also spent some time helping the group sort clothes that had been donated.  We sorted them into boxes by gender and size to assist the church in distributing them more efficiently upon arrival.  I enjoyed working with ladies that I’d never met, and we had a few laughs at some clothing items that were donated.  Seriously, folks, people in Houston do *not* need winter parkas right now.  In fact, they don’t *ever* need winter parkas!

Going Forward, The Challenge

The South Texas area is going need lots of assistance in the days, weeks and months to come.  Hubby and I want to be a part of the ongoing healing effort, and I hope you will also consider doing and giving what you can.  Look for reputable opportunities to make a quick and direct impact right now, if possible, and always be wary of scams that will no doubt pop up.

One more important need that I’m familiar with is the need for blood donations across the nation.  I donate regularly, but many others now need to step up and donate, too.  The need is critical right now and in the immediate days to come.  I can’t stress that enough.  Please spread the word.  It was critical prior to Irma, and it’s going to be even more so now as Irma heads toward Florida.

If You’ve Been Impacted

If you’re reading this today and you’ve been impacted by any of the current storms, including the horrible wildfires in other parts of the country, my heart goes out to you, as well as my prayers.  I cannot begin to fathom what you’ve been through and what you’ll be going through in the days ahead.  Ask for help when you need it because so many want to give it.  Allow others the blessing of blessing you.  You likely have no clue at the love and generosity that is headed your way very soon.

Just like the storm that was Hurricane Harvey, I hope the love and help coming your way is totally unprecedented!

#PrayForTexas

#TexasStrong

 

 

Wordless Wednesday – A Helping Hand

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Well, it’s not quite “wordless” after all today, but the events and the emotions of the past couple of weeks have just been awful.  Thankfully, all my people in the affected areas are safe with only a little damage, but everyone’s nerves and emotions are shot, including mine, and I’m not close to the devastated areas.  They are still overwhelmed and short on supplies, and I can hear the frustration and fear when I talk to some of them.  Their stories are just unbelievable.  Our friends know a man that died in the storm, too.

I’m glad I’ve been able to actively participate in a local relief effort.  Our supplies arrived yesterday at a church in Friendswood, three charter bus loads full.  I want to do more.

Please continue to pray for Texas.

Texas is now praying for everyone in Irma’s path.

 

 

Wordless Wednesday – Antelope Horns and Bees

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TTO Thursday

The TTO Show was a popular radio show in my area when I was growing up.  It was a hodgepodge of happenings and interesting topics, and it was always fun and informative, as the hosts had a great sense of humor.  Sadly, the show has been off the air for decades now, but I’ve decided to go with that theme in today’s post.

In case you’re wondering, TTO stands for “This, That and the Other.”  Today’s focus will be “Words of the Week.”

“I think I re-injured it again.”

I recently shared these words with my hubby.  Back in September 2010, I took a nasty fall in our yard and injured my rotator cuff in my right shoulder, and it seems that once again, I’ve reinjured it while lifting heavy boxes during my sister and brother-in-law’s recent move to their new home on the farm.  Unfortunately, I am right-handed, so this is just not good.  There are times in my life that I don’t have all that much that needs to be done, but this is not such a time.  Once again, I’m relying on prescription Naproxen and my little arm sling for relief while trying to get the things done that must still be done.

“I’m a country girl now!”

That’s what she said.  (lol)  Well, that’s what my sister said to me on the evening after we helped move them to their new home on their oldest son’s farm last week.  Yes, I lifted way too many heavy things, but it’s done now.

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Sis’s new house

I’m laying low for the next two weeks while her boys get things ready for the estate sale at their former home.  Parting with most of her possessions is going to be hard on her.

The trustee wants the keys to the house by the end of this month to start some repairs and get it ready to list with a realtor to get those funds back into my sister’s trust.  The trustee had some hard words with my sister’s middle son about how all this works, and that’s unfortunate.  Her son wanted to take a couple of months to get things ready, but that is just not remotely reasonable in this situation.  I will be so glad when the estate sale is over and all this stuff can finally start settling down, especially since the move was especially hard on my brother-in-law, who has Parkinson’s Disease.

“It has to be done, hun.”

These were my words to my hubby as the time to start our spring yard work was upon us last weekend.  With all the activity from the move, we were behind on doing yardwork, and I wasn’t able to help due to my shoulder.  Over breakfast on Saturday, as we discussed what all needed to be done and whether we should try to just hire someone to do it all this year, I uttered these words to him to bring him back to reality on the situation.  Bless his heart, he worked his tail off scalping the yard, too.  The worst is behind us with that task completed, and hopefully we will have some good spring rains to help get the yard off to a good start soon.

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I’m so happy to see our tree survived the borer attack last fall!

I’m glad to report that our tree in the backyard is once again blooming in full after a nasty attack by borers last September while we were gone to New Mexico for a week.  From now on, we will treat that tree every Spring (and maybe every Fall, too) to prevent this from happening again.

“I miss you so much!”

On Monday, I enjoyed a nice lunch with my dear friend who now lives in Utah while she was back on a quick visit to see family here.  I shared these words with her, and it is the absolute truth.  She is such a dear friend, and I miss having her nearby.  We had a good lunch visit with another mutual friend, and it refreshed my soul once again, as well as my tummy as we dined on wonderful Mexican food.  I need to plan a trip to go see her up there some time this year, preferably when it’s miserably hot here this summer.

Oh wait, it’s already hot!

“It’s 96 degrees right now at our house!  I’m ready to move to Alaska.”

I shared these words with the hubby yesterday when he inquired as to what the weather was at home.  It was pretty incredible to have such heat in mid-March yesterday, and I was totally unprepared for it in my jeans and long-sleeved shirt.  While the official high temperature here was only 92, we frequently register a few degrees warmer at our house than what’s registered at the official site.  I’m not sure I want to know what’s ahead for us as far as summer heat this year, but I hope and pray it’s not another 2011 again because I really don’t think I can handle another summer like that one right now.

“I can’t believe we have to buy this thing.”

I said this to an employee at Best Buy earlier this week.  A few days ago, Uverse and our local NBC affiliate failed to reach an agreement on the continuation of services between the two, and we lost our ability to watch that station on our televisions at home, since we are Uverse subscribers.

We hoped the disagreement would be quickly resolved, but it now seems that it is going to be a permanent thing.  I hear of these types of disagreements more and more these days and not just with our cable provider.  So, after some discussion, we decided to just go to Best Buy and purchase HD antennas to get our local stations going forward.

If it had been any other local station, we probably wouldn’t have bothered to take this step right now.  But our local NBC affiliate is everyone’s “go-to” news station for local news and weather, and with severe weather season soon to be upon us, maybe even later this week, we didn’t want to be without that resource.

The big winner in all this is anyone who sells HD antennas.  $75 later (for three of these things), we are good to go once again.  I’m not all that displeased that we opted to go this route either because we now have a little backup in case we lose cable signal.  We’ve lost signal on a few occasions when the weather was pretty bad, although not nearly as often as when we had satellite cable service years ago.

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Our new HD antennas

“This is sooo good!”

One of my favorite foods right now is Firecracker Shrimp, and I recently made tacos with them, similar to a dish served by our favorite Mexican food restaurant.  I’m pleased to share that I got really close to what the restaurant serves, and the words above were pretty much what we thought of this tasty dish.  I’ve already made it a second time because it’s a quick, easy and tasty dish that works well on my low carb plan, since I bought Mission tortillas that are only 4 net carbs each.

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My take on Firecracker Shrimp Tacos with fresh mango pico de gallo purchased at a local grocery store, cole slaw mix, cherry tomatoes and a low carb tortilla was so good!

“I’m ready to go again!”

When driving down a nearby neighborhood street a few days ago, we saw an RV in a driveway with people loading supplies in it, probably for a spring break week vacation.  It made me realize just how ready I am to go camping in our RV once again, although it looks like we won’t be going anywhere until sometime in April now.  Hubby is slammed at work and probably needs to just stay put until things slow down a bit.  We agreed that we are both ready to go again, too.

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Sunrise at Fort Richardson during our February camping trip

Well, that’s about it for this episode of TTO!  Who knows what the next week will bring.

 

Little Did We Know

A tragic day in the Panhandle

At the end of my previous post on Monday morning of this week, I shared that we were in for another day of high winds and high fire danger.

Little did we know… that it would be a day of devastating wildfires across several areas of the Panhandle, a couple of hours north of my area.

I think we often take for granted all the weather and fire warnings this time of year, especially those of us that live closer to a city or town.  But this year, the devastation and loss of life has really touched so many of us.  This is our home, and these are our people and animals that have been lost.

One person that died was known to a good friend of mine.  Perhaps that brought the reality home even more this time.  My friend and her husband grew up in the area where one of the large fires hit especially hard and the loss of lives occurred.  Four good people died, three trying to save cattle and another that got caught on a country road in his car when the fire overtook him.  He just learned last week that his wife was expecting their first child.

My heart hurts so much for the families left behind.

We woke up on Tuesday morning to a strong smell of smoke in our house, as the smoke from the fires had been pushed south by a cold front overnight.  Over 31 years, we’ve never had such smoke inside the house, as the heating system brought it in overnight while we slept.  We immediately turned off the heat the next morning and just used a couple of space heaters until things warmed up.  The smoke persisted all day and into the evening, but for us, it was just a bit of an annoyance.

What we experienced was absolutely nothing compared to what folks had to endure further north.  The photos of the fires are just unbelievable.  Even the author of the Hank the Cowdog books, John Erickson, lost pretty much everything, including his ranch house and all his cattle, not far from Perryton.

There are days when I think my problems are just so awful, and then there are other days when I realize that I don’t have any problems.  At. All.  This is such a day.

My fellow Texans to the north have problems.  Big ones.  I just cannot fathom it.

I’m on the search for some way to help by donating or actually traveling to one of the affected areas to help serve as I might be able to do so.  I hope I can find a way to help these people that have lost so much in a single day.  I know I am certainly not the only person in my area that feels this way, too.

At times like this, I can hold my head high and be proud and grateful to live where I live and call these people my neighbors.  We live in an often hard land, but the people that make it here for the long haul, especially the people that work close to the land, are especially resilient.  I came from such people, original settlers on this land, and there is no one I admire more than a hard working cowboy or ranch hand.

I read a post on Facebook from such a cowboy right after the fires hit the news in our area.  His words absolutely broke my heart and probably the hearts of thousands of others by now, too.  I literally sat down and bawled my eyes out.

I don’t think I will be light-heartedly joking about the wind here for awhile, especially the “flaming tumbleweed” comment in my previous post.  I want to just go back and delete that part now.

#prayforthepanhandle

The beautiful people lost in the fires, three men and one woman.  May God bless and keep their families.

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