Friday, February 24, 2012

Deep in the Heart of Texas.


The Turtle's repairs were due to be finished either yesterday or the day before. We spoke to the repair manager at Jim Bass Ford today. Now he's saying Monday or Tuesday. That means another weekend with my family, which is a good thing, but it also means there's no way we're getting back home on time, which is a bad thing. We do, after all, have to go back to work sometime, and as the days wear on, that need becomes more urgent
I also spoke to my friend Jane this morning, and she passed on a message from my next-door-neighbour which went:  "Blog, woman! Blog!"

Okay! Okay!

The photo at the top of the post features Tera, one of my grand-nieces, showing off her new doctor kit. She has graduated from medical school, and is now on her way to start four years of residency, specializing in emergency medicine.  Her parents threw her a wonderful party at Jasper's Restaurant.  I think the Fisher Price doctor kit was her favourite gift.

Three times this week, I've had the pleasure of looking after my great-great-nephew (great-grand nephew?), who is one of the sweetest babies I've ever met --- even when he's awake!

Our golf course walks have continued. We seem to be making a daily habit of the walk, weather permitting. There was no walk yesterday, but the temperature hovered around the 90F mark all afternoon, so we didn't think trudging up and down hills for an hour would be a bright thing to do. Today, the temperature dropped -- it was in the forties when I got up, and by the time we went out (an hour ago) it had risen to what felt like around 60F -- perfect weather for a walk.

There were some golfers out, along with dozens of deer. Early on, we heard a helicopter -- one with a very heavy engine -- overhead and stopped to watch it. After it passed, we heard a "Crack!" as somebody whacked a golf ball, followed by the thunder of hooves as all the nearby deer made for the woods. I guess they're used to the noise, though, because once the noisy intruders had passed, they came back out to eat the tasty fairway grass. For the most part, they just glared at us as we walked by.

At the highest point of our walk, we stop to have a drink of water, a stretch, and a rest. I noticed today that the change in weather is reflected in the sky, which looks positively confused.

I think the walk helped us both to relax. Now I have to set about making some (vegan) creamy spinach enchiladas for tonight's dinner before I settle down for some serious birdwatching.

It's a rough life. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

"Piglets", my husband said. 

"We're turning into little piglets, just sitting around watching the birds at the feeder."  We didn't really want to leave, but the time had come. It was time to be on our way. So we left my sister's house on Monday, having stuck around for just one more weekend. We took our time, even then. It was noon by the time we pulled away from the local supermarket, where we had stocked up on a few staples including a refill for our 5-gallon drinking water bottle.

I was surprised to find that I did actually enjoy the ride. The last time we drove out of Texas on our way home, we took a more northern route, and I loathed it. I probably blogged about how it made me feel to drive for hundreds of miles without seeing any features on the landscape. I wanted to go hide my head until we got to a place where there was something to look at -- a mountain, a tree -- anything!  This time we went over the  I-10, staying close to the Mexican border, and there was Scenery -- trees, rivers, towns. It was lovely. A four hour drive took us to the town of Sonora. We needed fuel anyway, and the afternoon sun was getting into position to blind us as we drove, so we decided to stay there for the night. About that time, R looked at the rear view mirror and said "We're leaving a trail of smoke."


We went to the Chevron station in Sonora and put some fuel in the tank. At the next pump, there was a State Patrol car. I walked over and asked the officer where we could find a mechanic to look at our motor home. He directed us up the road to Victor's Garage, and that's where we spent Monday night -- tucked in against the back of the garage. It was pretty well closing time when we arrived, so the mechanic just put us up for the night and set to work in the morning, trying to figure out why we had almost no oil left. When we had the starter motor fixed in Austin, we also had the oil changed, so there should have been plenty there, but instead of staying where it belonged, the oil was spraying out over the engine, producing the smoke we had seen. It was a horrid mess. In the end, Victor's mechanic threw his hands up and referred us to the Ford dealer in San Angelo, seventy miles north of Sonora. If we drove gently, we should be able to get there without being towed. So, off we went, knowing already that the mechanics in San Angelo wouldn't be able to look at the engine until the following day.

Meanwhile, I called my brother-in-law and asked him to make the (nearly) four hour drive to San Angelo to pick us up and bring us back to Austin.  We thought we might end up flying home, so we scurried around, packing our clothes and laptops and perishable food. When our valiant rescuer arrived, we filled his car with as many of our belongings as we could cram in and still leave room for ourselves, and R and I shared the driving on the way home.

Against all odds, given that we've been hanging around for an awfully long time now, we were welcomed with open arms. We are trying not to be quite such piglets on this part of our visit. I've started walking again, and R has joined me. Today we took our second walk on the local golf course. We didn't go all the way around, but we did walk for over an hour. That's just about right for me, but R isn't used to taking hour-long walks. He much prefers riding his bike, but his bike is in San Angelo, in the Turtle.

So here we are, waiting for a call from the Ford dealer.  We suspect that we are going to need a new engine -- poor old Turtle is showing her age -- but I doubt now that we will end up flying home.We will probably just run a little behind schedule.

The silver lining in this cloud?  If this mechanical misfortune had to happen, it couldn't have happened in a better place. We aren't in a strange town, perhaps staying in a hotel and eating restaurant food. We are back at home -- my sister's home -- surrounded by people we love and who love us back. I've been granted a little extra time here, and I'm grateful for that.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The Groundhog and the Turtle

I have it on good authority that the groundhog has seen his shadow and returned to his burrow. The tree outside  my niece's bedroom window didn't get the news. It's begun to bloom, as if Spring were just around the corner. I can understand its confusion. The daytime temperature here has been in the seventies (F) most days -- today being the exception. Today, I'm warming my toes under a patchwork quilt.

It's a universal phenomenon, I gather, that time flies when you're having fun. I did say that I would blog faithfully on this trip, but then I wasn't counting on spending a month in the same place, or on getting so relaxed that I'm quite capable of sitting in the same deck chair all day, just watching the birds at the feeder, waiting for one of these beautiful Texas sunsets. The photo on the right was taken by my lovely niece Mindy, whose love of sunsets borders on obsessive. I am grateful for that obsession.  I've taken quite a few sunset photos since I got here, but of course they're in my camera, and my camera isn't with me right now, so I prevailed upon Mindy to let me post one of her photos.

Mindy had surgery a few days ago, and she needed someone to be with her today, so instead of lazing the day away at my sister's house, I'm lazing it away at Mindy's. The two of us are listening to Pandora while I play here and she explores Pinterest. At some point, I'll bestir myself to make some lunch, and that's about as ambitious as I'll get.

There have been some outings, really there have. We've been to see "The Iron Lady" (Is there an emoticon for that 'waggling fingers in the air' gesture?) and "Hugo" (big Thumbs Up!). My sister and I have visited Mecca (aka the original Whole Foods Market), where I did a little shopping and we had a delicious vegan lunch.

I've had my nails done. Mostly, though, there have been days like today -- when the music has given way to "Big Bang Theory" on Netflix. Something tells me we won't get back to Pandora. That's a shame, because the piece I've linked below (Liszt's Arabesque)  is the sort of thing we were listening to. Oh, well. Sheldon, too, hath charms. We'll stop watching when our bellies get too sore from laughing.Maybe.

*Sunset photo copyright Mindy Brooks 2011