MISSION, TEXAS When we arrived here on the 19th of December, we were pleased that it was nice and warm and sunny. We talked of all we would do over Christmas - golf, tennis, swim and sun. I began to think of the newsletter and even had the front page planned. A picture of Ron and I soaking up the sun by the pool could be on the front page and the headline would be "IT'S A TOUGH JOB BUT SOMEONE HAS TO DO IT." All of our snow bound friends and relatives would surely appreciate that, right? We were busy getting settled and didn't make it to the pool right away and Thursday was bridge night. Us retirees really do have a very busy life, you know.
Friday it was 88 degrees and we did swim and sun but I hadn't had time to go to the store to get the film I needed so the front page picture still didn't get taken. Before the sun went down, I purchased the film and made mental plans to get that picture first thing Saturday morning. I had a deadline---a cold front was moving in and our sunbathing days would be over for awhile.
Meadowcreek* had it's Christmas party in the lounge Friday night and it was nice to see so many old and new friends. We enjoyed a good dinner, danced and celebrated our sixth anniversary one day early. It was one of those magical balmy nights. The pool area seemed enchanted with tiny Christmas lights reflected in the water and music drifted out from the lounge. Several suggested midnight swims. That would have made a good picture but I had left the camera at home.
When we went to bed that night, we left all windows and the door open for comfortable sleeping. But at five o'clock in the morning we were rudely awakened. We were freezing. It was only 40 degrees inside and it was going down fast. After closing the door and windows, I turned on the heater and snuggled under the down comforter. That is when I got the idea for this picture. It was amazing that the temperature dropped so severely in just a matter of hours and just for the record, Ron was hollering for me to hurry up and snap the picture, he WAS freezing. He's a good sport.
We felt bad for all those families who came down to visit their retired parents and grandparents. This kind of weather did not make for a very pleasant Christmas vacation. For two days, the temperature did not get much higher than 35 degrees and with the wind that blows here, it felt much colder. Do you know what they do to the expressways when the temperatures get near freezing? They close them. No salt for the overpasses down here. By Christmas day, it was more comfortable at 50 degrees.
Our Christmas was wonderful despite the weather. We visited friends,
were able to attend the Christmas Eve services at church, enjoyed a delicious
traditional dinner with all the fixin's here at the Meadowcreek lounge,
got to talk with family on the phone and had each other and good health.
Can't ask for any more than that. Hope your Christmas was as nice
A song, a photo, a postcard, a memento,
or an event all help jog memories.
A book for the whole family. We were at the Meadowcreek Christmas party and were talking with new friends Janice and Dallas of Tennessee. I don't know how we got on the subject but she mentioned that her grandmother always kept a diary so that her family could read them after she was gone but an uncle had a better idea. Using his computer, he transferred her written words to print and had the whole collection published in a nice hard bound book - enough copies just for the family. WOW!!! What a wonderful idea.
I did save all of my children's letters and when we left Lansing to become full-timers, I gave them to each. I hope they saved them too because they tell a story. It would be so nice to put them in order on a computer and keep them as part of their life story.
Journals and letters have been important historically. How would we know what early explorer's trials and tribulations were if it not for journals? Many famous people were good enough to take time to keep journals and have their letters saved. Mom Hofmeister's favorite is Ann Morrow Lindburg. With these we can be a mouse in a corner of their lives and learn much from them. But what about you and I? We aren't famous (yet)? What benefit would our diary be to anyone? I hope that our children and grandchildren will enjoy the diary of our explorations that we keep now. I hope that they will want to know what we did. Just think - someday our lifestyle will seem as ancient as that of the wagon trains that went west in the 1800's.
A Christmas card from my Aunt Mary reminded me that my Grandmother Sayles faithfully wrote diaries. They read from them regularly now. I want to read them too. In fact I want to suggest that we (her grandchildren) help contribute to get her collection published so all her grandchildren and great grandchildren can enjoy knowing a little of her life. That would make a great addition to the recently published Weld Family Cookbook that cousin Mary Fowser just finished.
It's not too late to start your diary. If you don't already write a journal, think about starting one. Wouldn't it be fun to be able to go back in time and remember a day long ago? It doesn't take much time to write a paragraph a day. I feel bad that Dad Hofmeister didn't get further along in "writing his book" before he died. He was so enthusiastic about dictating his life story to a tape recorder and we all would have loved learning what it was like to grow up on a farm in the early 1900's, surviving the Great Depression as a young family man right to the wonderful retirement years. Every one has a story to tell. Mom Hofmeister has kept a journal and two years ago at Christmas, she read an entry from the Christmas when Ron was a baby. It was wonderful!! That is another book waiting to be published and there is no need to wait. Janice's grandmother didn't wait, in fact since the book was published, it sparked her memory and she is now in the process of writing a second book. It is neat because as the family reads her journals and has questions, they can ask her personally.
The lowest price we have seen on gasoline is right here in Mission, Texas -- $1.03 per gallon.
Never park next to a new motorhome or fifth-wheel. If you do, don't let your wife visit it --she may get ideas.
I always thought that all bridge players bid a short club. That is until I met Bob Schlosser --but he does everything different.
One of my favorite Christmas presents -- a gift to the Lansing Food Bank in our name by son Karl and wife Donna.
Meadowcreek Country Club and RV Park is my idea of a vacation. I am sure our month will go fast here.
Some of what I miss from Hot Springs Arkansas: First Lutheran Church; Evelyn and Carol's friendly restaurant; a very friendly and helpful post office; all of the special people we met there.
I love people who put notes or letters in their Christmas cards. You all did great this year.
I'm looking forward to our first shuffleboard lesson. Does that mean I'm getting old?
Did you know that Brownsville Texas is further south than Miami Florida? Someone should tell the weatherman.
Do you remember my prediction many months ago about how Barbara will
expand the newsletter and try to compete with USA Today? Case closed.
This 'N That
We gave ourselves a VCR for Christmas. It is very small and doesn't record but that is just what we wanted so our children can send family videos. We hope to be able to catch up on some of the movies we have missed too.
While in the Houston area (two different Coast to Coast campgrounds), we were able to visit with brother Don and family twice. The first time, they joined us at a most unusual restaurant. The Hilltop Country Inn near Cleveland, Texas serves a buffet in which ALL the foods are prepared with herbs grown in their greenhouse and gardens. It was interesting, delicious and filling. Yummy is more like it.
There is a quaint little town twenty miles north of Houston off I-45. There are over seven blocks of early 1900's houses which have all been transformed into shops. Old Town Spring is delightful especially at this time of the year with all of the shops dressed in Christmas colors and scents. One can easily spend a whole day browsing and seldom will you see the same merchandise. What variety!! What fun!!
We also made a trip to Galveston while at Baytown. It was about one hour south through a busy industrial area. Not the prettiest scenery we have seen. If you ever get to Galveston be sure to visit the Bishop Palace and Ashton Villa. Beautiful Victorian mansions! We learned of the devastating 1900 hurricane and were amazed that these two houses survived after seeing pictures of the destruction. Over 6,000 lives were lost. We are always amazed at what we don't know about our country. There is a neat Railroad Museum there that we wanted to visit but we ran out of time. Missed the annual Dickens on the Strand Festival too. That is always held the first weekend in December. Maybe another time.
Down here in Southern Texas, Spanish is the common language. It is like being in a foreign country. In one large Mexican restaurant, all of our questions got shrugs or one word answers, our order was messed up, and my request for hotter salsa got me a much milder sauce. I never did make them understand what I wanted. They were trying to be so helpful but they just couldn't understand. They didn't speak English.
I have to laugh now when I think of another time when we were in our favorite Mexican restaurant (they speak English there). I commented to Ron that it must be good Mexican food because all the customers except us were Hispanic. We realized later while shopping at the mall that ninety percent of the people living here are Hispanic. No wonder we were the minority in the restaurant. I still think they should speak English since this is the United States.
Have you ever heard of a Sonic Drive In? It's a car hop type place and they serve the best coney dogs and malts. Just like the good old days. We found one by accident in Hot Springs and have noticed that they are in Texas too although we have not seen any down here in the valley.
Playing golf or tennis here in the Rio Grande Valley is hazardous to ones health. It is so windy that after any time out of doors you begin to feel as though you have been whipped. As I type this, another cold front has moved in and the winds are even stronger than usual. I may even get sea sick sitting in our house - it is rocking like a ship in rough seas. This is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live here.
We have said it before and I'll say it again - it is the people that make this area a fun place to visit. At bridge Thursday evening, I was lucky enough to have Darlene Moore as a partner for one round (we played all six hands) and when I moved to the next table, I got her husband, Wayne, for a partner and we did great too. The Moores are from Sutton, Nebraska. Right after bridge they invited us to their beautiful home (here at Meadowcreek) for coffee. They are retired Agricultural Engineers (farmers) and very successful. They were happy to answer all my farming questions and again I learned that I have a lot to learn.
The Moores invited us to join the couples golf scramble on Friday afternoon and we did. What fun! I like "best ball" because I can feel like a good golfer. My ball was even used a few times. For the non golfers - everyone hits the ball from the tee and we take the best shot of the four and each shoot again from that spot until we sink the ball in the cup. The game goes fast and is less competitive than one on one.
The majority of the retirees who come to this part of Texas are from
Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the Dakotas. That is probably
because it is a straight shot south from their homes. Ever notice that
in Florida, the majority of the license plates are from the East? Another
straight shot. I like the folks from the Mid West. They are gentle,
easy going folks. Of course they were not weaned on traffic jams and congestion
like those who live on the East Coast.
*Meadowcreek was sold some years ago and has been renamed --Seven Oaks Resort and Contry Club. It is very nice park.
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