26 February 2017

No.1: Big 60th Birthday Trip and No. 64: South Padre Island

No. 1: Big 60th Birthday Trip plus No. 64: South Padre Island/ A Two-Fer!

Again, sorry for the silence.  In the past month I've helped my mom move, been out of town, and started a new job. Lots of little adjustments. But now, I'm back.....

Just came back from a weekend in Terrell, Tx with my high school friends and realized, What?!, I never did a post on last year's 60th birthday trip to S. Padre.

February 2016. I am really late on this one!

Friend Ann had been a bit under the weather and overwhelmed (metastatic breast cancer will do that to you) so we decided to keep the 60th Birthday Trip a little closer to home. Some of us (okay, me) had never been to S. Padre Island, others had been and loved it. Being driving distance away was the icing on the cake.

M. Anne found us a lovely condo on the beach complete with pool that was supposed to heat up. I'm sure it would have gotten warm if the owners had turned the heater on about a week before we showed up. As it was, the weather was a little cool, and so was the pool.

That pool started to get warm the last day we were there. 
Too little, too late.
And too sad, since M. Anne really worked hard to find us a heated pool.

S. Padre Island was...an island. With pretty white sand. And row after row after row of condos.  I've been now, no need to go back. Yes, the sand was gorgeous but I was raised going to Galveston and Surfside where the sand isn't always so pretty and I still love those beaches. Between the distance we drove and the abundance of condos, I would be just as happy staying closer to home and living with non-white sand.

However, put six women, an abundance of champagne and wine, lots of excellent food and an opportunity to shop together for a weekend and happiness is guaranteed.

Every trip we do a bottle photo. 
Sometimes it's a little embarrassing. 
And, for the record, I'm mostly a beer drinker. 

We did a tour of the sea turtle rescue center and hit the convention center for a craft's fair.

Liddy, Peggy and Allison getting their turtle on.

The sea turtle rescue center was a little rag-tag but still fun. They could use some donations. (In case you have some money you need to get rid of...)

Help me!
I swim in circles. 
Sweet rescue turtle...

We walked the beach and listened to live music at Clayton's,  the largest beach bar in Texas. The music was good, the daiquiris were better and the array of dancers was the best.  I firmly believe that no matter how old you are on the outside, we all feel our best age on the inside when we cut loose.  Apparently that age was somewhere between 18 and 22 for the majority of the 55+ aged dancers.

A last minute pic- no make up, wet hair,  ready to roll. 
Sixty is pretty cute.
B: Me, Allison, Liddy
F: Peggy, M. Anne, and Ann

So we did it. Celebrated our 60th birthdays AND went to the island.

Which brings us to last weekend.

Liddy's first grand baby was born last October, at 25 weeks along and weighing only 11 ounces. She is one of the smallest surviving babies in the world.  Now weighing about 3 pounds, it was time to have a baby shower for her. So all of us ladies descended on Terrell to celebrate Baby Watson.
(Great video of her and her parents here.)

Watson Jean is one teeny tiny baby. 

Ann was under the weather and couldn't make it but Kathleen did come, all the way from Birmingham.  Another weekend away in the company of wonderful friends, another reason to celebrate.

Sixty one is pretty cute, too.
(Although truthfully only Allison and I are there- the rest have later birthdays.)
Liddy, Peggy, Kathleen, M. Anne, Allison and me in front.)

I am all about the celebrations. We need to find our joy where we can.

Yep. We found our joy!


And while we were there I got to do a little plumbing. Liddy dropped an earring back down the drain. It was a locking back made especially for her earring, not an easy one to replace.  I assured her that was not a problem. I grew up wearing hard contact lenses. They were always slipping down the drain and my mother taught me many moons ago how to disconnect that pipe under the sink to retrieve lost items.  (She was a contact wearer, also.)  Like mother like daughter like daughter...
Teach your kids how to do stuff, it gives them power.   It's a good thing.

09 February 2017

No. 93: Become more politically involved. Sigh.

No. 93: Become more politically involved.


I wish I didn't have to do this. I have always been a big believer of the checks and balances of our great country. Four or eight years of one political party was okay because inevitably the other party would resume power preventing too much power (or too much destruction). Our presidents have for the most part been reasonable and thinking men (sigh, again, always men) that governed with a nod to history and the decorum expected of the highest position of the most powerful country.

Until now. The American people voted for change and Boy! did we get it.

Twitter has become our White House press secretary. The actual press secretary seems to be in the dark half the time. Business is getting DONE. Act first, think later. Ruffle a few feathers and then send someone else along to smooth things over.

My messy desk. 
Apparently our new President likes a messy desk, also. 

On the bright side I now am aware of the different cabinets, who has been nominated for these cabinets and what the qualifications (or lack of) the nominees have for these same cabinets. With a normal Presidential change of regime, cabinet members are installed with a minimum of fuss. Presidents tend to nominate people who are qualified and knowledgable in that particular field. There might be some debate as to whether they are going with the status quo or about to make some changes, but at least the nominees are familiar with their department.

Nope. Not now.          
Now apparently all that is required is the President knows your name and he wants to give you a job.

Our Senators and Representatives are mostly voting along party lines to confirm these people, furthering the platform of our elected leader.  Whatever that platform is...

Which brings me to No. 93.

In the past three weeks I have written and called my Congressional representatives multiple times. I have signed petitions. (Yes, President Trump, I do still think it would be a good idea to produce your tax returns. I DO care.)

I was at the post office this week buying pre stamped postcards to keep handy. My distinguished representatives have phone lines that go straight to "this mail box is full" recordings.   Letters may be held up if they look suspicious. Post cards are easy to read and require no effort so they have become my communication form of choice.

I am more aware and more involved than ever and I know many of my friends are feeling and acting the same.  That's a good thing.

I have been remiss.

Not anymore.

Links for your assistance if you, too, would like to get involved.
Positive involvement is also appreciated. I sent thank you cards to the two brave Republican women 
who voted against Betsy DeVos to head the Department of Education.

Who do you contact?  Click here
Responsible news sources? Click here for  most trusted, here for some independent resources and here for an entertaining and reliable Monday through Friday update.

Labels. Not just for return addresses.
These are ready for the postcards.

How should you communicate? Here's some good advice from Ben Wideman, a Mennonite pastor in Pennsylvania about a visit to his Republican senator's office:

Just got back from a visit to Senator Pat Toomey's Johnstown office with 15 other Borough of State College & Penn State area people to talk about the immigration ban. Here are my takeaways;
1. Everyone we spoke with was rattled. They have never experienced this much constant feedback. The phones haven't stopped since the Inauguration and they admitted they can't check voicemail because there is no pause to do so.
2. Letters are the only thing getting through at this point [Note: I've heard that postcards are better because they can impound letters for five weeks to check for contaminants]. Regional offices are a much better mail destination because the compile, sort, and send everything. DC mail is so backed up right now it takes twice as long to send things there.
3. Toomey's staff seem frustrated with Trump. They said his barrage of Executive Orders are not how government is supposed to work, and was what they hated during moments of the Obama era. One of them said, "we have a democratic system and process. Trump needs to stop behaving like a Monarch."
4. Our representatives are listening because people are raising their voices. This feels like no other political moment in recent time for them.
5. Toomey's staffers are far more empathetic than I assumed. Also far more technology illiterate (one asked me how to use twitter, and how we already knew about Toomey's published statement). They resonate that the immigration ban feels immoral and unAmerican.
6. Regional offices are not designed to handle this volume of unrest.
7. Personal stories matter. Tell the stories of people being impacted by arbitrary religious and ethnic legislation. Staffers want to know.
8. Don't stop. Do whatever small part you can do to keep raising your voice to your representatives. Not just this issue, but every way marginalized people are being (or will be) exploited under this President.

Be involved. Our lives may very well depend on it. 

07 February 2017

New Buds

New Buds....

Houston had a little party over the weekend. You may have heard about it. LOTS of people were in town and there were plenty of events and activities that came along with this party.

Last Wednesday, accompanied by friend Martha, I dropped in on some of my favorite visitors, the Budweiser Clydesdales.

Martha, Me, Rocco

These big boys were stationed at the Anheuser-Busch/Budweiser Brewery last week so we killed two three birds with one stone by chatting up the Clydesdales, touring the brewery and tasting some beers all in one afternoon.

First we met Rocco. He was the biggest of the two horses on show at 19 hands. (Your bit of horse info for the day: one hand is equivalent to four inches.) Extremely patient, he stood quietly while person after person snapped a pic or two and patted him. These horses are bomb proof. Also, they are spoiled beyond belief.


Next up was Jack.  Jack was a little bit smaller at 18 hands. He was also a bit more personable, possibly because his line was shorter and he had not been as slammed with people as Rocco had. They were both so soft and sweet and it just made me realize how much I miss that wonderful horse and leather smell. Someone should bottle that scent. I know women who would pay to have the smell of horse, leather and grass around them 24/7. (Me!)

 My mother always said 
"You shouldn't kiss the cat." 
I imagine she would also say 
"You shouldn't kiss the horse."
Except I did.

I'm pretty happy here.
Love them horsies.

Notice I'm on my tippy toes.

The Clydesdales are draft horses, bred to pull wagons. They first made their appearance with Budweiser in 1933 when Augustus and Adolphus Busch gave a hitched set to their father to celebrate the repeal of prohibition. (And here's my post on that subject.) Now there are three teams of Clydesdales in the US and they travel around as representatives of the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. While there are ten horses on a team, only eight are hitched at one time. The other two are back ups, rotated in so that everyone gets a break.   These horses are NEVER ridden. It's against company policy because of insurance reasons.  (I really, really wanted to get up on one though. My sweet horse Picasso was big at 16.2 hands but these guys... well, you would be sitting pretty high up in the air.) The largest two horses are at the back of the team, doing most of the heavy pulling while the smaller ones are up front. The four horses in the middle are trained to rotate up or back as needed.

Clyde, the Dalmatian, was up next but he wasn't being as cooperative. He was in his truck but not too keen on coming out. He did sneak up for a few pats but I couldn't get my picture with him.

Well, Martha did get a snap of my bracelets and Clyde!
Isn't he handsome?

After we had our fill of Clydesdales, we moseyed over to the actual brewery and decided to take a tour. I love seeing how things are made. Even more fun, we got to taste beer straight out of the tank, unpasteurized.  (Another fun fact: canned and bottled beer is pasteurized while keg beer is not.)

Imagine how much beer is in here!

Our tour guide taps the tank for a taste of really fresh beer. 

Martha and I raising our cups for the first time of the day. 

Then we headed into the tasting room to sample the beer. I mean, that's practically a requirement, isn't it?    Our favorites? Oculto, which is aged with tequila barrel staves and infused with blue agave and Montejo, an authentic Mexican lager.  

Love that bottle art.

The Oculto, with its 6% alcohol content, was a winner just for its bottle art but it also had a citrusy flavor that almost made it a beer cooler. This would be a good summer beer.  
The Montejo- well, I just love a good Mexican beer.  Can't help it.   It was also light with an alcohol content of only 4.5%.  I'm a lightweight so I appreciate a lighter beer with flavor.

Still sampling. 
And still upright. 
A good sign.

As we toddled out to the car, guess who we ran into again?  Clyde! And this time he posed with us.
Budweiser has lots of Dalmatians and no, all of them are not named Clyde. There are some Buds, too.

Clyde begrudgingly posed with the two of us. 

It was a great morning and I enjoyed the horses so much I went back to the brewery on Saturday just so I could see the whole team hitched up.   What a fabulous advertising tool the Anheuser-Busch company has in these gentle giants.

The whole crew, including Clyde on the wagon.
This team is from St. Louis.

These silly boys were shaking their heads like crazy.

 Each leather and brass harness weighs about 130 pounds. 

A great way to spend the day: hugging on animals and drinking beer.

Another fun fact: Martha LOVES to help me with my challenges and is always up for a spontaneous trip ANYWHERE but guess what? She has NEVER read my blog. Ever. I've told her she has been featured many times, but nope...she has never read it. Maybe this time.....

If you want to read about more adventures with Martha click  here and here and here and here.