Tuesday, September 16, 2014

New and Improved...........is not always the best idea!

We all know of the catastrophies of companies changing their products or names to make their "brand" more current, attractive, upscale or different. There is a restauant in Houston that I've loved for well over 20 years that decided to go upscale with a new building, a new interior, a new location. Same name. It used to be funky, fun, Mexican and every time I went there it transported me to the interior of Mexico. Today I ate at the new improved, upscale restaurant. I could have been dining on any type cuisine because there was almost no decor to even indicate that it is a Mexican restaurant. What a disappointment. Today was Mexican independence day. Six of us had lunch there. The food, thankfully, is still delicious, but the service is now stilted, not effusive and welcoming as in all the past years. I enjoyed the meal with friends. But, I left feeling cheated that I did not have an authentic Mexican experience, as they used to say, but just a dining experience in a big restaurant that could have been anywhere and served anything. SAD. Hope the owner makes it!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Oh say, "Can you see?"

Indeed I CAN and better then ever in my whole life. I started wearing glasses at 18 months. Itsy bitsy ones. Then as I got older and in school they were those thick as bottle glass ones. They made my eyes look teensy tiny. Lots of kids teased me about that. Some bullied, of course. Those are the things that toughen you up for real life! I hated the glasses and especially the time as a preteen when the eye doctors were trying to correct the nerve problem in my right eye by making me wear a black patch on my glasses to school. Needless to say, the patch would stay on my glasses until I was out of my mother's view. Of course HAD I worn the patch, the nerve would not have died to the brain and I WOULD have vision in that eye. C'est lavie. Dr. Sander was almost clicking his heels after this "experimental" surgery on Friday. To the other patients he said it went well. When he got next to my bed, he could hardly contain his glee and exclaimed loudly that it had gone "fabulous". Even my brother Bill, who accompanied me, was surprised at how effusive the doctor was. He was like Santa delivering a great present that I had not opened yet and didn't know how wonderful it was going to be. The whole two operations in two separate operating rooms took about 2 hours. We were back at my brother's home by 11:30AM. I couldn't see much at the time but I could see some colors and shapes. To myself I said, "Well, at least I'm not blind." I then slept for a couple of hours and upon awakening I COULD see things. As the evening progressed, I could see more. Yesterday driving to the Doctor's office for a follow-up, I kept saying to my brother things like "OMG, I can see the leaves on the trees". Or,"I can read that sign up there, way up there"! It was amazing. As each day as gone by with today being the third day, it is truly unbelieveable how clearly I can see. I promise I've never in my life seen so clearly. Thinking today how devastated I was when the doctor told me I had a cataract on my one idea and the sheer terror I felt when he said I would have to have it removed was so scary. Now I realize what started out as such a negative thing led to the most joyful gift. If I had not had a cataract I would never have had this surgery. Who knew? Well, Dr. Sander in Houston knew. Last November after he confirmed that I did have a cataract just as the eye dr in San Miguel had diagnosed, I began to play in my mind all the scenarios of what it would be like to try to live without vision. If I had had another eye to see from that would not have been an issue. Hence, ten months of worry were resolved on Friday. Thankfully. When I see the doctor on Thursday, I'm going to find out specifically what this "experimental" procedure is called and what the difference is between it, cataract removal and lasic surgery. I was corrected when I referred to it as lasic, so heck I don't know, but it worked. The vision at this point is so good, I can read the names of the books in my friend's library from almost eight feet away! Woo hoo....... Now I'll be able to see the signs better to drive back to Mexico soon. I think I've been living like Mr. Magoo and didn't even know it! Amazing indeed.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Long and Winding Roads

A little over a week ago, I left my daughter's home in Kingwood to allow them to return to some normalcy and to get on with some of the other reasons that I came to Houston. Julie is doing extremely well with her recovery and has returned to her hectic schedule. In fact, tomorrow she'll be driving to Nacogdoches, Texas to the campus of Stephen F. Austin. She's finishing getting her degree online but must be on campus a couple of times a year. If I remember correctly, I think its about a four hour drive through East Texas. It's a beautiful drive. Speaking of driving, when I left north Houston and my daughter and son-in-law's home, I headed straight for the water. Galveston Texas. Near and dear to my heart. I stayed with my dear and close friends, Vandy and Sue. Always a busy time. Always. From dinner at Sonny's corner store to dinner at Louie's Bait Camp near Hitchcock and a few other fun things.......it's always a treat. The last night there we went out on Sportsman's Road so I could photograph the sunset over Galveston Bay, not the Gulf of Mexico. It was breathtaking. I got many good shots along with photographs of roseate spoonbills and white egrets in the wetlands. Unfortunately, this computer is NOT cooperating and I'll have to post photos upon returning home. Aaargh. It was so wonderful to spend some time by the water. It is totally silent looking out over the Bay where we were. I commented that I if I lived out there I would never go into town and would become a haggled tooth old hag. Of course jokingly (I think) Vandy said that I was already that.......hmmmm. Tuesday morning saw me on the road early to drive to College Station to spend the day and overnight with my delightful, oldest granddaughter Jessica, who turned 23. What fun to just hang out, eat a good meal and do a little shopping. But mostly it was sitting around and talking. I also got to see her new apartment. She'll graduate in May from Texas A&M. Of all my grandchildren, she spent the most time with me growing up. We have a delightful bond. Wednesday mid-day saw me back on the freeways returning to Houston to stay with my friend Martha as I awaited my appointment with the eye surgeon who is going to do laser cataract surgery on my eye. The surgery was already scheduled for the 10th but it has now been moved to the 12th as he is doing another type of procedure. Now I realize that cataract surgery is no big deal. I'm only concerned because I only have vision in that one eye. He has assured me that that is not uncommon and all will be well. Whew. Another reason for my initial planning of being in Houston at this time was to celebrate the 16th birthday of my grandson Christopher. He is the son of my daughter Jennifer. What a treat to see him so grown up. It has been almost a year since I saw him. When he walked into the restaurant, I almost didn't recognize him. Oh my, what a handsome young man. Christopher was born several days after his mother was diagnosed with acute myologenus leukemia. She was seven months pregnant and we all held our breath that he would be born healthy, which he was. He's a special person, gentle and kind in nature. He reminds me so much of his mom, Jennifer. So much. My brother and sister-in-law joined us for lunch. So it was a small, but meaningful birthday party. Another fun thing that happened, gosh it has been a busy week, was going to the Mucky Duck on Friday night to see Chris Smither entertain two SRO concerts. I was with my other dear friends Amanda and Patrick. That's a long story that I'll save for another post when I CAN include the photos. It HAS been a whirlwind week with many miles traveled. Yesterday, trying to drive from Houston to the NASA area south of Houston, the traffic reminded me of why I hate being on freeways, especially on the weekends. The coming week won't be as jam packed with activities but more in preparation for the eye operation. I'll also try to finish up any things on my list of things I need to do while here so that when all is over with recovery, I'll be ready to head back to Mexico. Stay tuned for the photos I couldn't post of the sunset, spoonbill, Jessica and Christopher. Documentation of a delightful and delicious time!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Exhaling

I'm exhaling today as Julie's byopsy reports came back all clear. All is well. NO chemo or radiation necessary. Doctor said he doesn't even need to see her for six months! Halleleuia. What a relief! Everything else is well here and my time in Kingwood has come to a close for a while. I'll be heading to Galveston, College Station and back to Houston for this and that. My family is all well. Thanks for all your kind words and thoughts via email or on the blog post. All is greatly appreciated. Life is good!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Guest House Rental - Follow up post

I'm using someone elses computer.  I've tried to add things to the previous post about the guest house being available but for some reason it will not let me edit the post.  I've tried everything.


So this is what I tried to say.


GUEST HOUSE IS AVAILABLE FOR RENT.


Please see photos by going to the September 29, 2012 post to see all the information.  If interested, please leave a message and I will contact you.


So many people have contacted me in the past two months about a rental but I can't access that information from here!  If you are one of those people or know someone, please contact me


Gracias............

All the News of the Week!

It's just the way things are going..........mostly good, but with a few hiccups.


The drive up last Monday and Tuesday was seemless.  Well, sorta.  Other then two HUGE deluges in the mountains and a three truck pileup.  Other then that, it was a piece of cake.
I was at the border in 8 1/2 hours cause there was NO traffic on the roads on Monday.


Tuesday was a different story.  Especially between San Antonio and Houston.  Every truck for miles around was on that road........to put it mildly.  I persevered and arrived about 2PM.
Whew.  Glad that is over for a while.


Julie was whisked off to MD Anderson at 5AM on Wednesday morning and was through with surgery by 11AM with perfect results according to the surgeon.  By later that afternoon Jewels was texting questions about what was going on and what we were doing!  She's amazing.
Home she came, reluctantly, on Thursday.  She said she liked the room service at the hospital.
You cannot keep this girl down for long.


She has been firmly ensconced upstairs with all kinds of bedside service from kids, hubby and yours truly.........She is even talking and carefully eating regular food! I'm thrilled and amazed.


We'll be off to meet with the doctors on Thursday to find out what is the plan for the rest of the cure.


I've so loved hanging out with the four grandkids.  Sheesh, they're not little anymore and have been so sweet and kind to me.  I'm loving every second of it. Last evening all three girls left for various destinations.  The house was so quiet that I hated it!  Jess has returned to college, and Hannah and Emma had sleepovers. 


Friends and family have been bringing food each evening.  I have only cooked ONE meal, breakfast the other day.  It has been nice as it gives me time to spend with the kids and Julie and Rich!


SO THE OTHER NEWS!


My dear tenant Rick emailed me yesterday to say that he and Gilberto along with Griffen the dog are moving.  Griffen is going blind and they are concerned about him on the stairs.  I'm devastated as I had relaxed since they have a lease til November 2015.  I hate to lose them all!





Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's Just the Way It Is.........in Mexico!

                                          A shot of Canal Street in San Miguel at twilight.

Mexico is still a CASH society.  Therefore, if one is leaving town for about six weeks, as I am, one must stockpile money for bills to be paid while gone.  Now with the ATMs only giving 6000 pesos (about $470US) at a time, that implies a couple, if not a few visits to the ATM.  Not a problem..........unless the machines are out of money on the weekend.  Aha, I learned that lesson and will never attempt to get money on the weekend ever again.  Once I had to delay my departure because there was not a machine in town with money on a Sunday!  I kid you not.

So, I've got that experience under my belt and won't ever let that happen again.

I've also learned that the two, only two kinds of meds I take sometimes are not in stock.  If I need 6 weeks worth, the pills usually come in 14 to a box.  Yup, not a month's supply in a plastic cylinder container like in the states, but we must by them in small quantities in a box.  Six weeks worth of two types of meds makes me look like I'm dealing drugs when I cross the border.  So, again, I never wait til the last minute to stock up for a trip.  I started a week ago by going for these meds.  They had one box of each.  Ok, I got those and asked when the others would be in.....manana.  Remember, manana does not always mean tomorrow.  It has been a daily trip not only to that pharmacy but to two others.  Finally today in a panic, I found one box and two boxes of generics at a pharmacy that I don't usually go to in centro.  Whew.  I couldn't leave town without those either.

So, I've got that experience under my belt and who knows what I'll do next time!

Money given to the maid to pay bills - Check.  Money to buy gas and pay tolls - Check.  Pills in suitcase for 6 weeks, just in case I have to stay that long - Check.  Two huge bags of food for Velcro - Check.    I'm on a roll. until.............

Whoops!  I purchase US car insurance for the month or so I'm in Texas.  On Friday morning, after finding out on Thursday that I need to hightail it to Texas, I talked to the agent in Laredo who always handles this insurance.  It is the most efficient and least expensive I've found.  Plus, I've found they pay their claims.   That's another story.  So in our conversation she asked for the number on my Mexican drivers license.  Holy moly!  It had expired four days before.  Sheesh.  I hightailed it, and I do mean hightailed it over there praying it would not be a complicated procedure.  Here's what I took, just in case.  My passport.  My visa.  My expired license. And, last but not least, a bill that shows my name and the address I live at. Often they want this.  I've stopped trying to figure out why............

It turned out to be the most efficient thing I've done in Mexico - EVER.  He needed the license, the passport and my visa.  I walked to a copy place to have a copy of the visa and passport made.  I then had a new photo done, told them I wanted this license for 5 years as well, was fingerprinted - two different fingers - one on each hand - and then given a form to drive to the Government payment office about 10 minutes away.
I came back with the paid receipt, handed it to the man and was handed a laminated drivers license.  All in under an hour.  What a deal!  In Texas they mail it to you and you get it in about three weeks!  AMAZING.

I'm "outtahere" on Monday morning at 0700 to drive to Houston to be a Grammy and "Mom in charge" for a week or so.  My daughter Julie will have her thyroid and lymph nodes removed on Wednesday at MD Anderson.  I'll be in charge of running the house or the kids running me or whatever.  They don't start back to school til the 25th so I'll have them for GREAT company.  Then when Julie gets home from the hospital, I'll be "Nurse Mom" for as long as she can stand it!  ha.

That's the plan, man.  There is a lot more to follow all that, but, for the moment I'm focusing on the first order of business which is get packed, get outta here and get to Houston to my daughter and son-in-law's house.

I'll see you on down the road, hopefully.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Blast from the Past!

In looking for some old photos recently, I came across this one.  It's not really that old.  Maybe ten years old but it reminds me of what it used to be like when driving around Mexico and looking for gasoline! "No Fumar" was an important phrase.  It denoted that they had gasoline to sell.  Be it in an enclosure like this one, which was on the road to Ixtapa or in a tienda, that kept there containers of gasoline near the front door.

At the koffee klatch group this morning, a newbie is in town who just drove in from Texas.  He commented about the number of Pemex stations and the convenience. In the past, one could panic when on empty not knowing if or when the next station would be on the horizon.  In addition, the convenience of not going through any towns.

Ahhh, I assured him, it was not always that way.  In fact the road used to be two lane, not four lane divided highway.  In addition, the two lane went through towns that had no paved roads.  It was tricky, adventurous and interesting to attempt, as one drove in the ruts of the eighteen wheelers until one decided to make a turn.  It was all of the above as you maneuvered your tire up and over the ruts.  One had to really, really want to make a turn as it was not an easy operation.  Rainy seasons were nightmares.  Cars looked like they had just been pulled out of a mud pit.  Come to think of it, that's exactly what it was like.

So now, with bypasses and Pemex stations everywhere, no one needs to keep their tank half full all the time, or pray to find a bathroom soon or hope that the gasoline will be pure.

Heck, once I needed a bano so much,  that I stopped at a house, knocked on the door, whereupon they let me into the room and took me out the side door of the house to an outhouse where I could sit and watch the trucks driving by on the road.  No curtain, no nothing, except a seat to sit on!  Hilarious.

Another time, it was a curtain with a hole in the ground where a woman had to straddle the hole.  I've only done that once, thank you very much.  That was up in the mountains somewhere on a road that had NO shoulder.  Woo eee, that was an experience.  I wish I had photos of the bus in the bottom of the ravine and the eagles that were flying lower then the car.  "High up and dangerous" is not exaggerating that road. 

It was always important, or not, to kind of look at the gasoline in those clear plastic containers to see if it looked rather "clean" which is what they would say.  "Es muy limpio" was what they would tell me........"It is very clean."  Of course it was irrelevant at that point if it was regular or premium, it was gasoline!

No matter how far one was off the beaten track, there was, for some reason, Coca Cola!  Honestly, I figured those guys could have lead the greatest treks, cause they had always been everywhere!

It's fun to laugh at the past and have fond memories.  It's kinda sad that others won't have those experiences, but, the truth be told, I'm not as adventurous as I once was, so I'm glad there are nice Pemex stations with restaurants, restrooms and even gift shop areas in some.

Life is still an adventure at times, but not as much as before!