Saturday, December 30

Out of Order

Before Christmas, I became inspired and cooked for a couple of my favorite friends. I did this on the same day I caught up on some laundry. You can see the last load on the floor in the first vision of chaos.

I did manage to make some order of it at a later date. See below

Iowa/San Diego Kids

I snipped these pics from Facebook. Grandaughter Ann has 3 beautiful daughters that are getting a geographical education because their Dad, Anthony is in the navy. The lucky girls had the pleasure of enjoying the snow while in DesMoines with their Grandpa Rich and Grandma Donna.
Ann has a photographers eye for good pictures.
Nina Grace



Missouri Kids Trip

Our Missouri kids went to Minnesota for Christmas vacation. Elise loves the rides at Mall of America so her Dad and then her Grandmother went on the roller coaster with her. She did not get that particular passion from this great grandma.

Here is one of the scariest pictures in the world to me. The only thing scarier would be watching my loved ones ride it.

Thursday, December 28


The history of this one is I found it on Facebook, thought it looked good so I saved it.
Then a grown daughter of a friend of mine made it and it became a favorite for her family.
I have to agree. I love it!
Now an added tip for this recipe is that if you toss that
butternut squash in the microwave for about 3 minutes it will be so much easier to peel.
I did cut the bulb part off before I microwaved the two pieces.

1 butternut squash (2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch slices
3 medium tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°. Layer squash and apples in a 13x9-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Mix brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon; sprinkle over top. Drizzle with butter.
Bake, covered, until squash and apples are tender, 45-55 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.

Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Pumpkin Pie Pudding This is a recipe I have had for a long time and I ran across it the other day. I had the ingredients on hand and I put it together today and was once again impressed with its simplicity and deliciousness. Butch enjoyed it too. Besides this location, you can also find it on the recipe page 1 near the bottom. Pumpkin Pie Pudding

Ingredients 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup biscuit/baking mix 2 eggs, beaten 2 tablespoons butter, melted 2-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 2 teaspoons McCormick® Pure Vanilla Extract Whipped topping, optional Read more: Directions In a large bowl, combine the first eight ingredients. Transfer to a 3-qt. slow cooker coated with cooking spray. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until a thermometer reads 160°. Serve in bowls with whipped topping if desired. Yield: 6 servings.

Kind words and loving tales by Colleen O’Brien

Kind words and loving tales
December 27, 2017 Greene County News Online
~a column by Colleen O’Brien

Our stories matter. We explain ourselves by our stories; we are our stories. Especially at this time of year, when we are full of memories both good and bad about our lives, when we’re about to enter into one more brand new year of possibilities – vowing to be better, kinder, more forgiving – it’s a good time to recall a few of the good stories. The world is a harsh place, but it is also a good place full of good people. We need to remind ourselves.

A country itself is defined by its stories – in America, our good stories are of independence, individual strength, generosity. A classmate told me a story of my father when he was a Little League coach. “Your dad saved me,” he said. “He came out to the farm and told Dad he couldn’t field a good enough team without me. He had an old glove for me, he’d pick me up, bring me home. I think that was the kicker; he got to Dad’s pride. If it hadn’t been for Clem O’Brien, at some point, I’d have been a bad boy.”

I hold that story close to my heart. It shows a piece of my dad I didn’t know, that he never told anyone but that rings true. I would never have heard the story from my dad, and his former catcher on the Sox charmed me in a way that I knew there was no telling how many other boys he aided and abetted.

After my mom died, several of the African American women in her town came to the house to tell my sisters and me how much they were going to miss her. One of the women was Mom’s hairdresser, and one day she had been talking to Mom about their church organist moving away and how no one in the congregation could step up and hold them together in the hymns of their faith. Mom said, “I played the organ for 30 years at St. Joseph’s in Jefferson. I’ll play for you.”

That story is evidence of love and generosity, and I’m so glad those women told us. Mom could play anything from popular to classical; that she played church music for these friends she loved made my heart swell.

Stories like these are small blessings. They fill me with gratitude for the graciousness of my parents, for their love, compassion and kindness. It is the hearing of such tales that make me a better person.

My great-grandfather, whom I have a slight memory of – I think he died when I was three or four – did something once that I have always thought was the epitome of “saving grace.”

Grace was the name of my grandmother, and she told me a story of when she was first dating my grandpa. Invited to his home for dinner, shy, partly because she was in a strange milieu, from a different part of town than where he lived, and unsure about the formalness of the table setting, she was feeling daunted by everything. Her mother had told her just to pay attention to what the others did and she’d be okay. But she was the first to receive the pickle dish. With no precedent to follow, she stabbed a pickle and ate it off the fork. When she glanced up at her future mother-in-law, a formidable woman, she knew she was doomed. Embarrassed, she passed the dish on to her future father-in-law, who calmly did as she had done.

A man of not only good manners but true gallantry.

My husband told a story of playing pool at Sandy’s Pool Hall on the south side of the square one blizzard of an afternoon during high school. The buses couldn’t get to the country to pick up students, so school was cancelled, and the teenage pool players were cuing it up against the regulars. The 16-year-old who would someday be my husband took a drag on a cigarette, laid it carefully on the side of the billiard table, exhaled, eyeballed the layout and took aim with his stick . . . just as the basketball coach burst through the front door, shouting for players to get to the gym to practice. A true gentleman of a farmer picked up Jim’s cigarette and took a drag.

I’ve always loved the story of that fella’s quick thinking almost as much as I love the sense and sensibility of his act.

The curt things said to us, the slings and arrows, will be with us forever. But it is the loving tales of kindness that influence us toward thoughtfulness and the hope that fills our souls in stressful times of too much news of evil intent. A kind word truly goes a long way, and the actions that urge us here on earth to work for peace to men and women of good will go even further.

Wednesday, December 27

Tiny House Fascination

I still have my fascination with tiny houses. Probably always will.
This blog could give you an inkling as to why.

2017’s Worst Passwords

2017’s Worst Passwords
We have written numerous articles, like this one, on why using strong passwords is so important. Unfortunately, apparently many people don’t take us (and many others) seriously. The top 3 passwords for 2017 and the same top three passwords for 2015 and 2016 also.


Really? None of you are using those passwords, are you? We hope that none of you are using any of the passwords in this list of the top 25 worst passwords for 2017. Or even anything similar. We suggest you use a password of at least 12 characters consisting of at least one uppercase letter, lowercase letters, symbols (like $ % *) and at least one number.  There are many online password generators, but the trouble is, you can generate all the strong passwords you want, but you won’t use them unless you can remember them.

We have long recommended LastPass because it can generate strong, uncrackable passwords like 8HNPWse*SGp8 and remember your passwords and enter them automatically whenever you need to log in to a site for which you generated a password.

But many of you resist using a password manager, and you’ll never use one. For those of you who don’t want to use a password manager here’s a way to make strong passwords you can remember:


Just think “I want candy free”. And according to My1Login it would take 5 years for a hacker using password cracking software to crack this password.


“My cats name is Barney too.”  According to My1Login, it would take 16 centuries for someone to crack this password.

Want to test your passwords? You can check them at:



LastPass Password Checker

A new year is only a few days away. Now is a good time to make sure your passwords are strong and you don’t use the same password for any sites that deal with personal information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, credit or debit card number, home address, driver’s license numbers, license plate numbers, or any site dealing with money – including online shopping sites.

Now, here’s the list of the top 25 worst passwords for 2017 from Time magazine:


























Taken from this website:

Monday, December 25

Merriest of Christmas's

In years past, long before I knew of the Internet and computers I would put together a Christmas letter each year. I am well aware that there are those who do not like them but that never stopped me. I would work on the letter for hours and take great care of my creation and send it by snail mail to as  many as 75-100 people. Time marched on and I began to work on my 'Christmas letter' all year long in the form of this blog. And finally I came to the conclusion that it was best to let people make their own decision to read what is happening with us or not. Still I do know that time and computers can be tricky and sometimes you lose touch with how to find the blog so this year I intend to send it to selected people from my contact list guiding them to the blog and the choice is still yours.
One of the negative results of changing the way I did the Christmas letter is that one of the joys was receiving messages from people in return. So here is hoping we hear from you in whatever form you decide.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Butch and Barb Brooker

Donna's Famous Bean Salad

I would hate to caculate the hours I have spent looking for this recipe on my computer. I knew it had to be there somewhere and I finally found it in an email sent to a friend asking her to print it off for me. The result of one of these long searches is that I then put it in several locations and especially in the places I looked first. Thus you will find it here and on the recipe page within this blog.
Mr. Butch is not a big vegetable guy  and I miss them sometimes and this is a way to have some on hand that do not easily spoil. It is simple, easy and delicious.

Recipe:   Donna's Famous Bean Salad        5/5/2009
Category: Side dish
Author:   Donna Ellis

Any kind of canned beans: drained and rinsed when necessary
Green Beans
Lima Beans
Black beans
Navy beans
Chopped onion
1/2 C vinegar
1/2 C Sugar or Sugar substitute
1/2 C vegetable  oil

This recipe was given to me orally by Donna Ellis. She said she never has the
same combination twice and to always make it with the idea of sharing with
others because it makes too much for two. When asked if white vinegar or apple
cider vinegar she said whichever you want. So with these general directions in
mind I plan to make it because her version was very delicious.

Sunday, December 24

Our TV situation...

...and what we do about it. The free (antenna) TV in south Texas is abysmal. In Iowa, we can get by quite well with antenna TV most of the time and we do.
We do pay for Netflix and I recently added Hulu and we chose the lowest cost version of both of those. Being Amazon Prime members I also have access to what they offer and I do take a look at what they have as well. In the past I wasn't happy with it but they are improving. They all have a learning curve on how to get the best use of it.
In the last two days, I have watched the movie "If I Were You" on Amazon Prime, Flea Market Flip on Hulu. Butch found a Jack Reacher film (Never Go Back) on Hulu. He has been searching for this one for a while and was pleased as Punch when he found it.
With the exception of Amazon Prime, our entertainment budget is less than $20 per month. I guess even with Amazon Prime it is less than $30 per month. To be utterly fair I suppose I should add in my Internet connection but I would have that anyway I can guarantee it.
I still remember when I discovered the Internet and invited it into my home willingly and with abundant gratitude. The Internet has added to my knowledge a thousandfold.

Saturday, December 23

It all fits in.

I told Butch I needed to go to H.E.B and he said he had a window of time between shuffleboard in the morning and cribbage in the afternoon. So I created a window of time between the morning walk with Peggy and a visit with Kay and an afternoon nap. So it all fit in.

I picked up the ingredients to make the dish that friend Sharon McQuillen brought us when I was recovering from surgery. You know when a dish keeps sounding good that much later it is a good one.

The grocery store was crowded with people looking for particular ingredients they may not have needed for a year. You know what I mean? When you might have to make several trips from one end to the other to make sure you have it all.

Friday, December 15

Police Blotter

I sometimes read the police blotter from my hometown and now and then I see something that gives me a chuckle. Here is today's chuckle.

(At 12:58 pm a complainant reported her vehicle was stolen from the downtown square. The officer located her vehicle on a different side of the square. She was mistaken on where she had parked.)

I wonder if it was one of my friends?
Image result for car gif

A personal slant

Trying to keep both blogs current has always been a challenge but as the years creep up that pressure increases. For the most part, it is a happy stress meaning I am busy and there is much to write about. Finding time to do justice to both blogs is the root of the conflict.

If you are longtime readers you are familiar with the term Ropa Usada. In Spanish, it means used clothing. And there are warehouses down here where bales of used and donated clothing from all parts of the US end up. And there are people here who enjoy sorting through these unleashed bales for all kinds of bargains. It is sold by the pound and that price has increased in the 17 years we have been coming down here. It used to be 25 cents a pound or even less. I do not know what it is now but under 50 cents somewhere is my guess.
A few years back I asked these bargain hunters to look for dress up clothes for Elise and they obliged in a big way. So before we came down Jason asked about hooded sweatshirts. Being a welder they do not last long and can be expensive when you need to replace them frequently. So I put the bargain hunters to the challenge. We are up to 22 at a cost of about a dollar apiece!  Last night Irma was asking me how many more were needed and Jason has not yet said stop because the guys at work want in on the deal.
 It is funny how your mind hones in on something. Perhaps an hour after my conversation with Irma a woman walked by with a hooded sweatshirt on and Irma said, "You don't suppose she would want to give it up, do you?" It took me a few seconds to get it but then I laughed. She is seeing sweatshirts wherever she goes. Here are 8 of them.

Thursday, December 14

Mexico Monday

Butch and I went to see Hector in Mexico on Monday. I was out of one of my meds, actually the only prescription med I take now. Hector is our pharmacist in Mexico and he always gives us the best prices. The status of the peso affects drug prices and the peso is apparently in better condition than in the past. Prices are up.
Our over-the-counter Charlote is up to $12 now. Hector says that one is a mystery to him because it should not be affected by the peso so it must be supply and demand. It is also harder to find. Hector has it.
Butch and I always walk across the border leaving our car in a supervised parking lot on the US side. The walk down to Hector's we estimate to be about a mile. On our way back we stopped at Jessica's for Panchos and they were very good. More than very good, they were excellent! They always give you chips and salsa and 1 free margarita apiece. We each ordered a coke and the bill was $10. Jessica's also have entertainment with a singer and sometimes dancers. On Monday we had both.

Friday, December 8

Huddled up and hunkered down

I am still in my pajama's and in no hurry to get dressed. Who knew that when we were still in Iowa we were being prepared for this weather in South Texas. This is the second time in our personal history that we have experienced snow here. The first time was Christmas Eve of 2004 and it was far more spectacular than this time. I located a few pictures from 2004.
From 2004:

From 2017:

My Christmas cactus and geranium are coming inside. After all the care I have done to get them here I do not want to lose them now.

Steam rising from the pool. I think it is safe to say water aerobics are canceled today.

I keep taking pictures as the snow accumulates. It is beginning to look like it might match the one of 2004

Thursday, December 7

Lovely Afternoon ---NOT!!

I bought 3 simple items from Amazon late last week. I keep getting notices that my orders are undeliverable. I chatted with them after the first notice and thought it was resolved. I have received 2 more notices after that. I have received one of the 3 items. So we chat again and this is my exchange with them.
Me: I have never had as much trouble before in receiving an order. I keep getting notices that parts of my order are undeliverable. This address has not changed in several years. I am losing my patience. What has happened to reliable Amazon??? The order numbers are Order# 114-7278543-xxxxxxx and Order# 114-1662188-xxxxxxx
Barbara Brooker 3707 E BUSINESS HIGHWAY 83 TRLR # 57
DONNA, TX 78537-3616
You are now connected to Sharayu from
Sharayu: Hello, my name is Sharayu. I'm here to help you today.
Me: Okay
Sharayu: I can assure you that I'm here to help and will do my best to resolve this.
May I place you on hold for 2 minutes while I look in to this?
Me: Yes
Sharayu: As the item are already being shipped out from us, and with the carrier you need to contact the carrier.
Me: I am sorry but that is your problem not mine. I have not received items you have shipped to me.
Sharayu: As an online retailer we rely heavily on the carrier to deliver our order, but there can be really unforeseen incidents which are beyond our control.
Me: So what if I never do receive them?
I want to return them then
Sharayu: Don't worry
I'll contact the carrier on your behalf.
Me: That is what I intended you to do in the first place
Sharayu: And they will delivered it to you within 48 hours.
Me: Okay.
At the same time, I received our new social security amounts in the mail and mine is incorrect it shows me not getting my measly 2% increase. Butch got his correct amount but I did not. So what to do but call them. I have been on hold now for 30 minutes. I am trying to find alternatives. Perhaps I should call the Carroll office in Iowa.
PS. I decided to do that...3rd mistake.   Up to 15 minutes on hold with the Carroll office. Finally got someone. Medicare went up and knocked out my 2%. Butch's is okay. I do not get it but perhaps I am not supposed to.
So much for my nap!!!

Doctor in Texas

No, there is nothing wrong with me. In fact, I am probably healthier and feel better than I have in a long time.
On my last visit for a check-up of the surgery on my face, Dr. Poag spotted a place he thought should be biopsied. "Suspect" he called it. It has improved greatly since we have been here. In fact, it is kind of hard to find. I am following doctors orders however and made an appointment with a doctor we have gone to in the past. And he is referring me to a dermatologist in McAllen.
I have become diligent with sunscreen and wearing a visor so I am thinking it is okay.
We had planned a Mexico trip to see our friendly pharmacist, Hector. It was cold, (40's) and misting so we decided to wait for a more weather friendly day. After all the todo of my summer with doctors, I am down to one prescription medication. I am very happy about that.
Before the doctor appointment, we decided to check out a restaurant a block from the clinic. It was a place we had frequented in the past but then it closed. It reopened but we just never stopped there. I had noticed lots of vehicles around it. It is called Diana's and it is on Bridge Street. The back room was loaded with Winter Texans and the front room was full of locals, all men. One whole table was law enforcement. We were in the front and I was the lone female. The food was good and we will go back if we are in the vicinity.
So we came back home and essentially hunkered down and kept warm. Ham and Beans for supper.

Sunday, December 3

New Computer Adventures

Okay, it has been 8 years since I have dealt with setting up a new computer and I am pleasantly surprised to find that I have done a thing or two in the past 8 years to make the transition easy.
First thing I did several years ago was started using a password saving program. There are a few of them out there and my choice is Lastpass. I pay for the premium edition but I did use it for years with the free version. Once you download and install the program you set up a master password. Lastpass does not know your master password so you must be sure to keep it so that you do know it. You can change it yourself but they cannot do it for you or even help you with it. When you are on a new website and make a password for it, Lastpass will ask you if you want to save it. You are putting the info into your Lastpass vault. You have full use of your vault by signing in with your master password and then you can find all of your websites and passwords.
 So since I have and use Lastpass all I had to do when I set up my new computer was to download and install Lastpass, sign in with my master, and visit any of the many websites I need to access and Lastpass would, at my request, fill it in for me.
The second thing I did was download and install Chrome, sign into Google and all of my stuff was at my fingertips. I download and install Mozilla Firefox as a backup browser.
Within 30 minutes I had my new computer up and running looking much like my old one.

As far as pictures, files and folders are concerned I have them backed up in Google Drive (cloud) and on 2 different external hard drives so I do not plan to transfer them to the new computer until wanted or needed.

Over the years I have developed a system that works for me on saving pictures. I can usually remember the approximate year, month or place a particular picture was taken. So now I keep them organized by years such as simply 2017 in my Pictures place. Then I make subfolders for each month (January 2017) of the year and yes I put the year behind the month as well. The way this works when looking for a particular photo is if I have it narrowed down in my mind to a particular year and I am looking at the month of January I know it is most likely a Magnolia Park picture I am looking for. If it is a biketrail picture I know it is April through September etc. It has taken me years to get this perfected. Because each of us has a mind of our own, it stands to reason each person would have to devise their own system. It greatly simplifies your life when you make order out of chaos. It can be fun to wade through an avalanche of unlabeled pictures but it can also be frustrating.

Now if you indeed have read all that you are a dedicated fan! So Congratulations and Thank You

Thursday, November 30

Deep South Texas

This is where we are. And for your information, the weather forecast given for us up north is often way off base.
Nice map though.
My mother used to call and say, "I see it is raining down there." "No Mom, it might be raining in San Antonio but not down here."

Wednesday, November 29

A trip to Boston

One of many of Colleen's columns:

Touring with a friend in the know
November 22, 2017Greene County News Online
~a column by Colleen O’Brien

I spent two days in Boston with my own tour guide, a friend who had lived thereabouts for 40 years. It was a privilege following her around. Being led by someone I know who knows everything about the streets we traveled is the best way to learn a new city. She was good at pointing out the obvious – the obvious being what tourists never see even though it’s right in front of us.

The first phase of my Boston tour was catching a city bus a block from where we were staying (a close suburb). I grew up in a little farm town in the Midwest and lived in cities in the West where public trans is a rarity, so I am ill at ease figuring out buses. Traveling with a habitual bus user who made me pay attention to what bus to catch if I lost her was a lesson in urban living, survival maybe.

The bus let us off near what I was calling the “metro.” I was corrected: in Boston, the underground is called the “T” for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority. It took us to Harvard Square, famous gathering place of students since 1636, when Harvard University opened its first classroom. Like most famous places, this triangular hotspot looked entirely different from what I’d imagined. But it was full of people, as I had pictured it, and they were of all complexions and demeanors, lots of tourists and plenty of students (who were the skinny ones). We peeked into the campus itself, walked past the Coop (famous co-operative bookstore for students and now for the public), tried to get a beer in a bar where we were invisible to the bartender.

We went elsewhere, to a self-serve coffee bar where I poured myself half a cup of coffee, went to the counter to pay for it as my friend came up with her half cup, and the fellow at the register told us he wasn’t going to charge us at all. I figured that in Harvard Square two women of a certain age with half cups of coffee amused him. He got a good tip.

Along the Freedom Trail (all American Revolution sites), we strolled Boston Commons; went through Faneuil Hall – the cradle of liberty where revolutionaries like Samuel Adams gave public speeches lambasting Britain; and saw many churches. (Unitarians won); and they all seemed to be historic sites.

From there we walked and walked uphill, to cobblestone streets past 18th century mansions surrounding the thick towering oaks of what I thought was a public garden. The park was fenced with sturdy and beautifully-wrought iron, the gate locked; so much for public – it was a park for those who live in that particular ‘hood. We were, after all, strolling Beacon Hill, famous address of Historic Register houses, lovely everything from the well-cared-for brick facades to the painted front doors, the window boxes of flowers with absolutely no dead heads, the graceful curtains on the very long windows hiding the front rooms.

We were in the most exclusive part of Boston – or one could say of the United States. The houses are so close to the street that after a while I felt I was snooping rather than simply admiring handsome doorways and tiny perfectly arranged two-foot-square gardens.

Caretakers were busy, delivery trucks were stopping traffic on the narrow streets, a well-turned-out older woman using a cane stepped gingerly down her front steps to walk her rather old toy poodle. Both purebreds ignored us, the obvious tourists.

On lower Beacon Street, we wandered into a place my friend had always intended to explore and never had: a private library called Boston Athenaeum. It was started in 1807, and since 1849 it has been located at 10½ Beacon Street. It has more than 600,000 volumes, which means they don’t toss books no matter how few people check them out.

At some point, we headed for the North End, one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods. It grew from an outlying area that was home to early Puritans and then American Revolutionaries. It eventually became a wealthy enclave, then home to a red-light district, then ghetto of the immigrants – Irish, Eastern European Jews, Italians, which is its population today. There are so many good-smelling restaurants in this less than one-square-mile neighborhood of narrow streets and very old buildings that we turned a corner and walked right into Pushcart Pizzeria, windows open to the street. We watched locals and tourists pass by as we were served one piece of pizza apiece, each as big as a dinner plate.

We walked through a financial district (“Wall Streets” look the same in all cities – canyons of severe buildings with imposing entranceways), crossed the Charles on the Charlestown Bridge, site of a ferry in 1630 and its first bridge in 1786, we read. And on to a once seafaring, then industrial, then abandoned and now touristy area of Boston Harbor with a big hand-lettered sign on a building in progress, reading “Have you found your Inner Harbor?”

We slurped noodles at a sidewalk restaurant and then sat on the steps of the ICA, the Institute of Contemporary Art. We watched construction workers climb down off their steel beams to eat burritos and Big Macs; the incongruity being that the burly, well-muscled daredevils were sitting under umbrellas at dainty tables along the quayside in front of the modern-art museum. A gaggle of school kids barely controlled by tired-looking volunteer mothers gobbled their sandwiches so they could run up and down the bleacher-like steps.

A double-decker tourist boat in the Harbor glided by a ferry on its way to the other side. Planes flew in and out of Logan Airport across the water, and we remained there for an hour, happy to be observers of it all – men and women on lunch break, moms enculturating their kids, eight-story cranes abandoned for the noon hour on construction sites next door . . . people people people coming and going, working and relaxing in the city that my friend had in a very short time taught me how to love.

From this website:

Tuesday, November 28

New Computer

I will be getting a new computer in the next few days. This time I am going with an HP just because the price was right and Costco stands behind all things they sell. My Toshiba is 8 years old so it does not owe me a thing as it has far exceeded the life of most laptops. I have hopes the HP will serve me as well as the Toshiba has.
Butch golfed today for the first time this season. He had a good time and they had 10 golfers show up to play. We are still light on people here but that is often the case till Christmas is past.
I have Netflix and Hulu working and it is a good thing. Regular TV is dismal in the Rio Grande Valley and my favorite PBS stations(plural) are only 1 here whereas there are at least 3 PBS stations in Iowa.
I am having a bit of trouble getting things done. Things like making posts for the blog, laundry, meal prep and housecleaning. One thing I have done plenty of is visiting! And it seems after I visit I get too tired for the rest of it. I think I might have gotten a bit spoiled when I could order around my manservant. Miss those days...Smileycons!

Saturday, November 25

An Afghan from Peggy

Last Spring I asked Peggy if she would make me an afghan. Peggy has made a gazillion of these for many people in many sizes. The pattern for this is very popular. I sure wish we had had it on hand when we were still in Iowa this fall. We have had a few cool nights since we have arrived here and it has been a blessing. It is heavier than most and reminded me of those therapeutic blankets they now recommend for people who suffer from anxiety. I love our new comfort cover!

Devon on net neutrality

Devon is my Grandnephew and the son of Karla. He has made a video about net neutrality and why it is important to all of us. I am so proud of him for getting behind this cause. We need more awareness of the issues and the willingness to stand up and be heard.

Thursday, November 23

The Play-Elf Junior

There are also some great video's but I have to get them in email before I can share them. I could not decide on just a few of the still photo's so you are getting them all.

More ...

Karla's Christmas Cactus

Before we left I asked around about someone adopting a Christmas Cactus for at least the winter. No takers. So I decided to divide and re-pot it and maybe if they were smaller someone would like to have one.
Karla said she would take one but knew nothing about the caring for it. So I sent her some directions. She sent me a picture of it and apparently the plant is very happy at Karla's place.

My visit with Leo

The cheddar bite mentioned in the video was in the small space beside where one attaches the seatbelt and had been there for several days.

If you need further translation let me know. This young man likes to talk.

Happy Thanksgiving!


It is so hard to believe we are already at Thanksgiving. Maybe that is true for me because I can think of a thousand things a day that I am thankful for.
My top 6 today:
1. My 58-year marriage and talented big rig driver.
2. Healthy and happy family all-around.
3. Friends old, new and in between.
4. Two tiny abodes both of which offer us a great deal of comfort.
5. Enough-food, warmth, coolness, love.
6. Thursday night trivia in Jefferson!

Getting back to normal-Fall 2017 Trip

I have been a long time without Internet or at least it feels like that to me. We left Iowa one week ago this morning. I did try to write posts even though I could not get them posted. You will find my efforts here.
Butch and I spent the day with Susan and Leo and it was a very fun day. I have some video of Leo talking to me in the car on the way to his school. I currently do not have an internet connection and will not have one until we get into our spot in Magnolia Park on Tuesday so I am trying to get this written in chronological order and some other jewels of the last 2 days will have to wait. He proudly and properly introduced us to his teacher and her assistants. I will write down the pearls of wisdom from little Leo as I recall them. When we headed to the play Leo needed to hold someone's hand while crossing the street and that hand was mine. Leo has had a runny and congested nose ever since we arrived but as we were crossing the street, holding hands, he says,"Don't worry Nana, It isn't a cold. It's just allergies." The way that little 4-year-old mind works is a continual wonder. 
The play was fantastic. This group of children from 8 to 13 and one 7-year-old (Elise) did a really fine job of presenting the play Elf Jr.
Elise was on cloud nine throughout the entire time we were there. Her mother and her grandmother both noticed that many little things that would usually be a big irritation to her didn't have any effect on her at all. She was so excited and exclaimed over and over how happy she was. She didn't need to tell us as it was all over her face. Absolutely beaming. And we are so happy for her. A star is born!
We woke to misty rain and 30 mph winds. The good news was that it was a north wind and we were headed south. It would rain much harder and sometimes gust to 45 and when we turned west headed for Joplin it jerked us around pretty good. It was a short day for us and Thank God for that. We arrived at the Downstream Casino at Quapaw OK a little bit before noon. We indulged in the buffet and played in the casino for a few hours. We like this casino because you can often play for a couple of hours and be lead along enough to keep you going. I won $8.00 and Butch won $1 or $2. We left happy. So now we have been resting, napping and enjoying some downtime. The forecast for the next 3 travel days looks good. So in this week of being grateful, we truly are as happy as clams and exceedingly pleased for all we have been blessed with.
We woke to the sunshine, cool but the sun was shining and minimal wind. So we expected a good travel day. And it was...mostly! I asked Butch about the GPS and he didn't think we would need it until we were closer to Oklahoma City. Wrong! There have been some changes to the Tulsa area since the last time we came this route. So there were a few fast and scary decisions on turns. And then there is a 20 mile stretch of road construction that will not be completed anytime soon between Tulsa and Oklahoma City. In hindsight, Butch said it wasn't all that bad you just had to be careful to not run into the cement barricades. The barricades were on my side. I didn't like it.
We arrived at the Winstar Casino, Exit 1 at Thackerville OK. We decided to eat at the casino and gamble a little. I put in $6 and came home with $20. Must be on a roll. And Butch put in $4 and came home with $5. Talk about big winners! I do believe we qualify.
Rested well.
Left the casino park earlier than usual and for my own info we went to Gainesville TX, 6 miles and exited to Hwy 51 headed for Decatur Tx. The reason for this is to avoid Interstate 35 between Gainesville and just north of San Antonio. We pick up 380 west at Decatur( had a bit of trouble finding 380 west) toward Jacksboro where we find HWY 281 South.
In the morning we plan to go down to 1604 on 281 and go east to pick up I-35, followed by I- 410 and then I-37. I-37 becomes 281 once again and we follow it all the way to the Rio Grande Valley. The last part we have done many times over so it is more for others info than ours on that bit.
This park, Roadrunner RV park at Johnson City is more than we like to pay. $40 per night. And as I type this I remember why we accepted this last Spring (April 2017). We had just come through an 8 inch rain with high stress driving . The water on the interstate was halfway up our Motorhome tires and you could not see!
I usually brag on Texas roads but I have a few complaints. It most likely would not be noticed all that much in a car but the motorhome was bouncing pretty good. It straightens up at Hico TX and we had a nice parking lot there too for a lunch break. It is located on 281 about a block before/after turning depending on direction.
Other news: 
I heard that Elise fell asleep backstage during intermission on her Saturday night performance. She was very tired. She did her performance without mistakes but her family could tell she was tired throughout. 
Her Sunday performance was back up to her usual sparkling self. She is a trooper!
So to continue...
Tuesday November 21st.
We did not take 1604 In San Antonio. From Johnson City, we followed 281 south to 311and then hwy 46 over to I-35 south.
We will not take 311 again, at least not in the motorhome. 8 miles and it was very narrow and curvy. Butch found driving in San Antonio traffic challenging and then we remembered we usually try to go through cities on Sundays. And we were doing San Antonio on a Tuesday. We will try to remember our (cities=Sundays) rule from now on.
After leaving San Antonio things smoothed out nicely. We have never minded the trip after getting on I-37. We listen to audiobooks and the time flies. It is, however, a long way. 5 hours at least for us in the motorhome.
As we neared the valley we decided to have our motorhome washed in a truck wash. We had never done that before but last season Wayne Bruun who we know from the park recommended it so we decided to check it out. It is I-69 Truck Wash near Edinburg. They washed the car at the same time. And they wiped it down, all for $45. We filled up with fuel afterward and arrived at Magnolia about 4:30.
If you have read this far I admire your dedication!! 

Friday, November 17

Take off

Yesterday the sun was shining and we were up bright and early to begin the trip south. Despite the attempt of our neighbor(owner) to the south to impede our departure at the last minute, we were able to exit with the motorhome and be on our way. It felt good to be on the road again and headed in the right direction.
Traffic was relatively light even in the Kansas City area. So we arrived at the Peculiar Park Place RV Park in the early afternoon.

The Gary and Susan Brooker household is active and hectic. I remember those days myself with activities of all kinds keeping the schedule full and constantly on the move. Looking back it seems to have passed quickly. So our goal now is to work in and around their busy lives for a couple of days before continuing our southward movement.

To back up a bit, I was mistaken about Elise's play. It is not in conjunction with the Harrisonville High school although she has performed with them on more than one occasion. This time she has joined a children's theatre group and it is an ongoing thing with one play being closely followed by another with only a week break. She is thrilled to be living her life's dream at 7! Her parents and grandparents may wear down long before she will especially as it nears opening night.
There are two age brackets for this and even though she is only 7 she is in the older group. It might be less polished than the high school group, I am still sure it will be highly entertaining.
Elise was at dress rehearsal last night so we didn't see her but we did have the pleasure of little Leo's company and that can be an adventure in itself. He talks nonstop and that is not an exaggeration as all family members can attest to. If he is not talking to a person he is talking to himself or a toy or perhaps just the air!
As it nears bedtime his mother limits his liquid intake. He said he was thirsty and was trying to get Papa Gary to give him water. Papa Gary said he could have a little bit indicating about an inch in a glass. That was not what Leo had in mind so he continued to negotiate. And then he said very dramatically, "All of this just because I MIGHT pee the bed." Oh and this talking thing? He inherited that from his Greatgrandpa Butch. Gary Brant, one of Butch's best friends and the best man at our wedding nicknamed Butch "Windy" for that reason.There are many other instances we could cite to support the claim.

Wednesday, November 15

Last Dr. Appointment and other stuff

Today was the last Dr. appointment and it was with the plastic surgeon, following up on the surgery I had before the other surgery. It has been very busy this fall! He said all was well but I do have a spot needing a biopsy so will be seeing somebody in South Texas to get that done as soon as I find someone I take a liking to.
So now we are getting the last bits done before take off in the morning. We are more than ready as it keeps getting colder each and every day. Oh and then there are the promises made by the weatherman. I know they are trying to put a positive spin on the forecast but all it does is tick me off when it is so far off the mark.
The overpass at Grand Junction( next town to the east) that began last winter was to be completed and opened for travel today at noon. We hoped it would be open by the time we returned from the doctor appointment in Ames. My appointment did not take very long so we were too early for the opening. Not even sure it is open yet. It really does not affect us however as we are heading south out of Jefferson and not east. Next Spring will be soon enough for our inspection.

Tuesday, November 14

Good Morning!

They promised 50 degrees yesterday. Didn't happen. They are promising the same today despite the clouds. It is starting out warmer this morning. OMG! It is 44 at 7:31 AM.
Yesterday we went to the telephone office and stopped the Internet on Thursday. Checked in at the post office to make sure my online address change had actually gone through. It had. Then to the grocery store for a few items.

I have several audiobooks on an MP3 player for us to listen to on our trip and we have started on one.
Skinny Dip, Carl Hiaasen

Listening to audibooks makes the miles go faster as well as being entertainment if your overnights happen to be in a dead TV zone.
Also for Netflix fans:
We recently watched Alias Grace. It is on the dark side but kept our interest through 6 episodes.
In addition to that, I am once again making bracelets. Hey, I have all these beads, you know! I have made 3 and working on a 4th.

Still Hunkered

Written yesterday:
Still cold. They say it should reach 50 degrees today but without a shred of sunshine, I do not expect it.
We are ready to go. Should not take long to get the final pieces in place on Thursday. Looked at the 10-day forecasts for the places we plan to be and I hope it holds true because it looks very promising. Experience tells me that when we arrive at our destination we will be acclimating for a few days. When a person goes from winter to summer in the course of a few days it shocks the body. Cold to Hot= severe sweat. Hot to Cold= severe shivering.  I prefer the first to the second and it all settles out in time no matter which way it goes.
The pictures from my perch in the motorhome.

 I wish I had caught this shot just a few minutes earlier when Piggy,(that is what Butch calls him) had his front paw(?)on top of the feeder while looking this way as if to tell Butch, "Hey, it's empty!"

Northern Flicker