Thursday, December 26, 2013

We’re Hallmarked out

On Christmas Eve we attended a wonderful candlelight service here in our park.

Of course the jolly fat man showed up for a visit.


The sound of jingle bells announced his arrival with an extremely long ‘Naughty’ list.

DSCN0093A social time followed and was enjoyed by everyone. Of course there was more food . . . several decorated tables set up with wonderful snacks and desserts.



We came away relaxed and it created the same feeling that comes with saying grace before a meal . . .

leaving us with a calm and peaceful feeling and allowing us to enjoy the upcoming day.



Then it was home for us to patiently wait for Santa to visit    our house.

We spent a nice quiet morning enjoying our coffees and opening our gifts. Some phone calls back and forth from our families made for an awesome Christmas morning.

One of The Cowboy’s gifts to me was a very pretty snowflake necklace (told you I liked the little presents). Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard enough of the jewelry stores ads like ‘He went to Jarrod’s’’ and many of the other overplayed advertising slogans.

Well, The Cowboy’s comment:

‘’Every kiss begins with Kays” . . . . K-Mart that is!

We had plans to meet up with some friends for an early dinner out. Everyone got to have their favourites and then we came back to our place for more visiting and digesting.

Below is a photo of some very stuffed turkeys friends.


Bless them, but they don’t pay much attention to me anymore and they just kind of roll their eyes when I have my camera and ask them to at least look at the camera. 

Speaking of cameras . . . this is one of my (pre) Christmas gifts.


and I love it. I’m a Nikon fan and this one is so nice and compact.  It has 22X optical zoom and 18 megapixels. The 16 gb SD card that came with it will hold about 3,500 photos. Crazy!

I also have a medium size Panasonic Lumix that has taken a ton of  pictures over the past 6 years so it’s getting a little tired.

My Nikon

This is my Nikon D80 DSLR which I still really love but it’s so big and cumbersome to carry around. Plus I’ve just never taken the time to learn how to use half of the features on it.


The Cowboy gifted me with this a couple of years ago. It came with a wide angle and a zoom lens but I never seem to have the right one on when I need it. I’ve since added filters and a few other goodies but again, the camera usually stays in the ‘auto’ mode.

So today was a lazy day – sprinkling rain on and off and a bit cooler. Perfect weather for laying around watching more movies and specials.. Of course, it just wouldn’t be Christmas with Chevy Chase and Christmas Vacation – which is what we just finished watching while enjoying our dinner – BBQ’d ribs, seasoned potatoes with onions done on the grill and some baked beans.

Ahhh, what a life.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll even get out of my PJ’s.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

It’s Christmas at Casa del Valle, Alamo, Texas

This is The Cowboy’s version of our Christmas Tree.


This is what the dash of our motorhome looks like.


Here’s a close up shot of our little tree.


Little is fine with me since I especially love ‘little’ gifts.

Good Things Come to those who Bake.


We have always loved shortbread cookies but I have to admit in my many years of baking that I had never attempted these. It just seemed all too intimidating to me so I’ve always left it up to someone/anyone else. I also have to admit that I spend a lot of time searching recipes and ideas on the internet.

All is one of my favourites although it’s a love/hate relationship. I love the site because of all the reviews. I also hate the site for the same reason. Anyway, I came across a recipe that seemed easy enough and I’m all about easy. Besides how can 427 cooks rating it 5 Stars be wrong? The picture above is part of the 4 dozen that the recipe yielded. I have already made a second batch since the first one was gone within 3 days. Just to let you know that I probably only had about 5 of them so I guess they were a hit with The Cowboy.


These other little goodies are family favourites that I’ve made for years.

One is icing sugar, butter, shredded coconut & almond flavouring formed into a ball around a maraschino cherry then rolled in graham cracker crumbs.

The other is chocolate morsels, graham cracker crumbs and sweetened condensed milk. Again, made into a ball then rolled in coconut.

Here are a few shots around the park. Check out the size of that poinsettia.


With these beautiful huge blooms.


There was a lot of hootin’ and hollerin’ going on around here on Saturday as this parade of residents decorated their golf carts and really got in the Christmas Spirit.

First in the afternoon . . .


Then again in the evening.


They sure had a lot of fun and it was great fun for us too.

In closing . . . we want to wish everyone out there a very Merry Christmas.  It's not what's under the tree that matters, it's who's around it...

We hope you are all with the ones you love as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

And finally if you click here Our Christmas Card we’re pretty sure it will make you smile.

Love to All!

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Baby’s Hug

We receive many wonderful emails especially at this time of year and I felt this one was worth sharing:

We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi.' He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment.

I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map.

We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled.. His hands waved and flapped on loose wrists. 'Hi there, baby; hi there, big boy.. I see ya, buster,' the man said to Erik.

My husband and I exchanged looks,

'What do we do?'

Erik continued to laugh and answer, 'Hi.'

Everyone in the restaurant noticed and looked at us and then at the man. The old geezer was creating a nuisance with my beautiful baby. Our meal came and the man began shouting from across the room, 'Do ya patty cake? Do you know peek-a-boo? Hey, look, he knows peek- a-boo.'

Nobody thought the old man was cute. He was obviously drunk.

My husband and I were embarrassed. We ate in silence; all except for Erik, who was running through his repertoire for the admiring skid-row bum, who in turn, reciprocated with his cute comments.

We finally got through the meal and headed for the door. My husband went to pay the check and told me to meet him in the parking lot. The old man sat poised between me and the door. 'Lord, just let me out of here before he speaks to me or Erik,' I prayed. As I drew closer to the man, I turned my back trying to sidestep him and avoid any air he might be breathing. As I did, Erik leaned over my arm, reaching with both arms in a baby's 'pick-me-up' position. Before I could stop him, Erik had propelled himself from my arms to the man.

Suddenly a very old smelly man and a very young baby consummated their love and kinship. Erik in an act of total trust, love, and submission laid his tiny head upon the man's ragged shoulder. The man's eyes closed, and I saw tears hover beneath his lashes. His aged hands full of grime, pain, and hard labor, cradled my baby's bottom and stroked his back. No two beings have ever loved so deeply for so short a time.

I stood awestruck. The old man rocked and cradled Erik in his arms and his eyes opened and set squarely on mine. He said in a firm commanding voice, 'You take care of this baby.'

Somehow I managed, 'I will,' from a throat that contained a stone.

He pried Erik from his chest, lovingly and longingly, as though he were in pain. I received my baby, and the man said, 'God bless you, ma'am, you've given me my Christmas gift.'

I said nothing more than a muttered thanks. With Erik in my arms, I ran for the car. My husband was wondering why I was crying and holding Erik so tightly, and why I was saying, 'My God, my God, forgive me.'

I had just witnessed Christ's love shown through the innocence of a tiny child who saw no sin, who made no judgment; a child who saw a soul, and a mother who saw   a   dirty exterior . I was a Christian who was blind, holding a child who was not. I felt it was God asking, 'Are you willing to share your son for a moment?' when He shared His for all  eternity. How did God feel when he put his baby in our arms 2000 years ago ?

The ragged old man, unwittingly, had reminded me, 'To enter the Kingdom of God , we must become as little children.'

If this has blessed you, please bless others by sending it on. Sometimes, it takes a child to remind us of what is really important. We must always remember who we are, where we came from and, most importantly, how we feel about others.   The clothes on your back or the car that you drive or the house that you live in does not define you at all; it is how you treat your fellow man that identifies who you are.

This one is a keeper.

'It is better to be liked for  the true you , than to be loved for who people think you are...... `

Have a Great Day!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Told ya we’d get there

It’s been almost two weeks since we arrived down here in the Rio Grande Valley but our posts are still about 400 miles north. We’ll get there . . .

A few final shots of our stay near Lake Conroe and the surrounding area.


Enjoying the day  . . . Flea Marketing



And Yard Saling

Arriving RGV 2013

You just never know who will notice our Ontario plates and start up a conversation at a stop sign in the little village of Willis, Texas. A friendly guy that moved from Ontario, Canada to small town USA and loving it.


Enjoying a beautiful sunset.


We left The Castaways Park, north of Houston, about 9:00 AM on December 4th. We stopped to fuel up both vehicles ($2.59 for diesel) and headed south with plans to split the final leg of our journey into 2 days.


And what would our post be without a picture of food – our lunch as we travelled.


It was at this busy rest area that we pulled in and decided that if we drove for about another hour we would be in Alamo. A quick phone call to Casa del Valle and we were assured they would be waiting for us.


Roads lined with those beautiful Christmas trees.


This is always an exciting view for us as we enter the Valley from the city of Harlingen. This is our 7th winter down here so it does feel like we are coming home when we get here.

We left Ontario on November 16th and arrived here Dec 4th. The Cowboy & I have discussed this a couple of times now and we both agree that this has been one of our best trips south. We’re not sure why.

We are never in a rush but since it was later in the season we had planned to travel south to warmer weather as quickly as we could and then take it easy the rest of the way. We also needed to plan the trip around the appointments at MD Anderson.

Due to circumstances, the first day we made 525 miles which is a lot further than what we normal do in a day but we were so happy to be that far south. That was the only night that we spent boondocked (no hook-ups) at a Walmart. The next night we were at Millwood Landing for about a week. We left there for a day’s travel to The Castaways where we stayed for about a week and a half.

We had heavy rains for the better part of one day but other than that it was easy sailing with big blue skies and lots of sunshine. There were no major traffic tie-ups or any detours to speak of. No mechanical or technical problems either. We both seemed to be more relaxed and organized – but I guess after doing this for 9 years now we should know what we’re doing.

At least The Cowboy does and I’m always thankful that he loves to travel, enjoys driving and always get us safely to where we need to be.

This is where we will be calling ‘home’ for the next three months.


We are always grateful to God for this amazing life and awesome lifestyle that we are so blessed with.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

We ‘heart’ MD Anderson



Another successful check up for The Cowboy at Houston’s MD Anderson this year. It’s been almost 2 years now since the first diagnosis and we are so relieved and pleased that they don’t need to see him for another year.







Dr. Brad in the Thorax center comparing last year’s measurements and liking the results. Please note that the finger The Cowboy is using to hold the chin strap is indeed his index finger.


Catherine is in charge of ‘Project Prepare’ – a program that we have participated in since day one of this venture. She gathers info from patients in all stages of this journey in order to benefit other patients and their families. She’s always makes each visit such a pleasure.


She made previous arrangements to meet with us in between appointments. The Cowboy appears to be instructing her on how MD Anderson could improve their operation with just a few minor adjustments.


Right now they are working on a very elaborate application that would allow everyone access on their computers or tablets. It’s all great material that would hopefully one day replace all the paper literature that they hand out. It’s all great reference material but having read it once all that paper is now stored in a plastic bin in our motorhome. We think the app would be a much more efficient way of keeping track of the very useful information – especially for recently diagnosed patients and their caregivers.

Now totally off topic, very trivial to a lot of you, yet still pertaining to Houston and all of our life’s experiences there.


I’m sure many of you are familiar of this cityscape from our previous posts. It was taken about 4 minutes before this next accidental shot:


I say accidental for a reason – By mistake I clicked the wrong button on my camera but happened to notice the shot in my viewer before it was saved. Out of curiosity I tried to duplicate the shot . . . 32 Seconds later.


Proving, to me at least, that it’s not just dust on my lens.

Our daughter Shy plus another friend had told me a while back about this phenomenon . . . angels or guardians showing up in our photos. Still curious I later found this on the internet (so it must be true).

“What are orbs? Chances are, you've probably seen them before--they are translucent or solid circles (usually white) that appear unexpectedly in your photos. Orbs may appear in different sizes, as a single spot or as a multitude of spots grouped together.

Some people believe that orbs are more than dust particles or drops of moisture on the lens--they are proof of guardian angels, captured on camera.  When these "spirit orbs" or "angel orbs" appear near a single person or a group of people in a photo, it's a sign that they are blessed with the goodness, positive energy, and protection of angels.  When orbs appear in a particular location, it's also a sign that angels are hovering nearby and the location is particularly blessed.”

Click here for more from

What I also find interesting is that this is about the location that ‘my mistake’ occurred.


Many of you will recognize it as St. Joseph’s Professional Center from our posts while we were enroute to MD for The Cowboy’s daily treatments back in spring 2012.

Recalling some of the feelings we were experiencing at that time I came across this . . . just an excerpt from some of my journals:

Each and every day we walk through this entrance to the radiation department of MD Anderson we feel several emotions.

We can relate to the article that we posted earlier about the young lady who at first was very reluctant to come to Houston but soon found that MD Anderson was a haven, a safe place in this very confused time in her life.

The friendly valets now recognize us and there is no need for showing of ID cards and they call us by our names. We go through the formalities of checking in at reception and take the elevator to the basement. It’s at this point that we feel that we are not walking alone. I’m certainly not a psychic or a medium but it is a very spiritual feeling that surrounds us. Call it Guardian Angels, Spirit Guides or our Higher Power  - we know that we are not alone.