This has been another week when I've managed to avoid a lot of cooking .... in fact I don't think I've cooked anything since Sunday and that really wasn't cooking as we had a green salad for dinner.

Monday we went out for Mexican, Tuesday we had left over spaghetti, Wednesday we went to a presentation at the rec hall and were given a free chicken dinner, on Thursday Linda (our neighbour) made bean soup as she had a ham shank she's been needing to use up since Christmas --- I baked corn bread so I sort of cooked and Friday was Zack's birthday so the group of us went to Tony Romas. Tonight we had a salad and left overs --- more left over spaghetti sauce and chicken I brought back from Tony Romas.

On Thursday we drove to Mexico with Harold and Lorna --- Harold needed to pick up his teeth. On the way there we saw the "wall" that is being built between the USA and Mexico. Not sure if it's going to work and it isn't very pretty.

The northern side of the wall.

At least in this spot there is a few hundred feet of dead space between the river and the wall.



Ropa and Fun Night

I have heard people talking about "ropa" but until now I hadn't experienced it and boy was it an experience. "Ropa" is a Spanish word meaning fabric or clothes. In a US border town about ten minutes from our rv park there are a number of large industrial buildings that have "ropa" in the their name. These businesses get unwanted clothes from all over North America. Some of the clothes is used and is from places like the Salvation Army and some of it is brand new from clothing stores and manufacturers. A vast majority of the clothes are sorted and put into large bales (one bale fills the box of a small pickup truck) which are sold. I think a lot of it goes to Mexico. Some of the clothes is put into drums which people (usually Mexican) buy (I think). They take it to a large room, dump it and start going through it. Anything they don't want ends up in a large pile which anyone (Mexicans and winter Texans) can go through. After you have found your treasures they are weighed and you pay for them by the pound. At one of the "ropas" we paid 20 cents a pound.

Now you are wondering why I was there. My neighbours, Linda and Mary Ann and I went to "ropa" to look for clothes to use as costumes in the Mardi Gras parade that our park is doing in a couple of weeks. For about six dollars we ended up with two huge bags of clothes --- costumes for six people with left overs. A couple of the pieces still had the manufacturers tags on them.

The mountain of clothes at one of the Ropas.

Bales of clothes.

Tonight was Fun Night. People from the park entertain us with songs and skits. It was a great evening.

The hill billy band.

Ray the singing cowboy and his horse.

Our neighbour Bob and Norma sang a duet.




Our neighbours (Sharon and Gavin) behind us are heading home this week so the group around them decided to go out for Mexican food in hopes of finding a Mariachi band as Sharon and Gavin have never experienced one. It seems kind of early to be heading north but they had a good reason --- they thought they should be home for their son's wedding on the 31st.

A group of around 20 headed to Ponchos for some good Mexican food and Mariachi.

There were four violins, two guitars and one trumpet tonight.

The men playing the trumpets are always off to the side ... I think it's because they are very loud.




I wasn't sure what "cloggers" were so I decided to go to the rec hall to find out. It turned out that they are a group of Winter Texan women who do a style of dancing called "Clogging". It's a type of folk dancing that involves stomping with shoes that have taps on the heel and toe of the shoe. These women put a lot of effort into their dancing including practising four or five times a week. All that practise seems to have paid off as they were very good.



Mexican Fiesta

Tonights dinner was a lot of fun. It was a Mexican Fiesta complete with Mexican dancers. The dancers are from the parks and rec department and are learning tradition Mexican dances.

Some of the dancers are as young as three years old. This group of kids did a Mexican Hat Dance.

This little one hasn't started dancing yet but was happy to receive one of the teddy bears that were part of the table centre pieces.



Cowboy Phod

In February the club is having a western night and decided to get people in the park to decorate paper cutouts of boots. The following is a photo of my "boot".

The main photo on the boot is of our own Cowboy Phod. The other photos were taken at the Cody Wyoming Nightly Rodeo.

We borrowed our neighbour Glen's boots. I told him Zaph was going to wear them when I asked to borrow them.

The wind was blowing and made it hard to keep the hat on Zaph's head.



Birds and Chili

A few days ago, Mark, Ed and I walked out of the park library and Mark looked up and said "the parrots are here". For some odd reason I had the small camera with us so Ed was able to get a couple of photos. Parrots are not indigenous to this area but over the years escapees have managed to survive and multiply creating several flocks in the area. The flocks generally are seen about 20 miles east of us so we were excited to see them in our park.

About 10 minutes east of us in McAllen is Quinta Mazatlan, a 1930's estate complete with a mansion and 15 acres of bird habitat. After spending parts of three winters this close to a birding area we thought it was about time that we paid it a visit, so Jean, Bob, Rosetta, Ed and myself climbed into Bob's truck and drove over. Our main goal was to see the birds so we skipped walking through the mansion this time (admission was $1 for seniors and $2 for adults so we figure we could afford to go back again). We walked around for about 2 hours and only managed about half of the trail (OK, we did sit at several of the feeding stations to watch the birds and the avid photographers (Jean, Rosetta and Ed) spent time taking lots and lots of photos).

There were lots of Kiskadees in this park.

The kiskadees and sparrows were loving the food stuffed into this log.

A Curve-billed Thrasher

I think this is an orange-crowned warbler.

If you look closely you can see the ant under the leaf. The ants were climbing the tree, picking leaves then carrying them down the tree trunk ..... we didn't figure out were they were taking them.

Tonight was the Chili Cook Off. Seven people (six women and one man) volunteered to cook their special chili recipes. As our street is still on duty we were involved with setup, taking tickets, serving desert and cleanup. The cooks were asked to serve the chili so they could answer and questions regarding ingredients and spice level. Every chili was different, one was made with turkey, another made with meat substitute (vegetarian), yet another was made with venison. They all tasted different and they all were tasty.

The chili cooks and me read to serve.

Ed and I in our chef hats. Yes, thats me with my new haircut. Short hair is much easier to deal with in the heat and the wind.




Well I've finally met McKenna, Margaret and Colin's three month old granddaughter. It was sure nice of her to come all the way to the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

This evening we met Colin, Margaret, Shelly (daughter), Luke (son-in-law), McKenna (granddaughter) and Sherri-Lyn (daughter-in-law, son Cort just started a new job and couldn't get time off) for dinner at Cheddars Restaurant. We had a nice visit, the food was great, the service good (weren't sure about this as the restaurant has only been open for a week). Colin had put a lot of pressure on me to choose a reasonably priced restaurant with good food that was not a standard one we went to all the time. Boy was I relieved when they said it was perfect.

McKenna and I .... she's got a good strong grip.

Margaret, Frances, Ed and Colin

Sherri-Lyn, Luke, McKenna and Shelly

McKenna and her daddy .... she smiles and talks a lot but my timing was off and this was the best smile I got.



Happy Birthday Ed!!!

It's been a busy week and a half and we didn't manage to do anything real exciting. Ed has taught two of his photography courses and so far so good .... people showed up to the second week so the first one must have been OK. He's taking the teaching thing seriously and preparing his lesson ahead of time. I've been playing cards and sorting books and we've both been going to Spanish class --- I think a little has sunk in. Oh yea, and we've been doing a lot of eating --- out for lunch on the 9th, ice cream on the 11th, dinner celebrating Rosetta's birthday on the 12th, homemade ice cream at Lorna's on the 13th, out for dinner on the 14th celebrating Ed and Harold's birthday, out for a pizza buffet on the 15th, just because it was Friday out for dinner on the 16th and tonight is Bean Soup Supper at the club house. If this keeps up I'm going to start rolling soon.

Last night was the start of our "week on". As street reps we need to find people in our area (we have a whole field of units) that are willing to help serve dinner, clean up after dinner, put up and take down tables and chairs, serve ice cream, serve doughnuts and coffee and cleanup at Saturday coffee and do what ever else happens to need doing during the week. So far so good, we managed to get the tables and chairs up for this mornings coffee and we survived coffee. Tonight we get to serve the bean soup supper .... hopefully it goes as well as the coffee did. Then it's six days to go ......

I'm not sure why but people chuckled at coffee when Ed stated his age during the "who had a birthday this week". Either they couldn't believe he was as young as he said or they couldn't believe someone that young would be in the park. When it's my turn I'll pretend that I didn't have a birthday.



How'd I do that?

We play bridge in the building that also houses the library and I noticed that there were a lot of books that needed shelving. Lynn, the woman who takes care of the library also plays bridge so I asked her if she needed any help with the library. Her answer was a big YES, she needed to sort through the books in the library and get rid of duplicates and old books. Later in the day Ed and I went to the Club Executive meeting as we are street reps. During the meeting the library came up and I mentioned that I was going to help Lynn with reducing the number of books in the library. Next think I knew Ed and I were on a committee with Lynn to come up with a proposal to revamp the library space and I was standing up in front of everyone at the general meeting talking about the committee. Gotta learn a way to be helpful but not get too involved.



South Forty Flicks

Last year we chatted with our neighbours and came up with the idea of showing movies outside by the trailers. Tonight we are showing our first movie at the South Forty Flicks. Ed brought our screen with us and we gave it a try. It worked OK but did waver a bit in the wind .... next show will be on the side of the trailer. Now we need a concession stand.

Ed and Glen securing the screen ... they threw a rope over the trailer and attached it to the screen to ensure it wouldn't fall over.

Ready for the show to begin.

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