Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On The Road Again

Just a heads up!

I ran around like a mad hatter packing, doing laundry, and running errands yesterday. I only had yesterday and this morning to do all that I need to do before leaving.

We're going to be on the road again beginning early this afternoon. We'll meet up with my niece and her husband for dinner on the way. And then, we'll continue on and crash in a hotel somewhere late tonight. We'll resume traveling Wednesday morning and should arrive at our destination late that afternoon or early evening.

We are visiting some of Dan's family. We are also hoping to go to both a water park and Eureka Springs, AR while up there. We'll be gone a week.

So, this means that I may or may not blog as usual.

I do plan on taking lots of pictures and will resume blogging when I can. In the meantime, I hope everyone will have a wonderful week and a Happy 4th!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mother (an Update)

I don’t know what to say. I honestly don’t.

When I returned to see Mother this past weekend, I noticed a change. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

Oh, she seemed cheerful. She said she’s doing fine and still walking. And yet, she refused to do therapy on Sunday. The lady is bullheaded. If she doesn’t like a person or is afraid of something, she isn’t going to do it and she’s downright rude about it. Nothing is getting across to her that if she doesn’t do her therapy and get herself stronger, she’s not going to return home. It just seems like she is defeating herself.

That is not the only thing.

I do not know how to say it. I really don’t.

I think Mother, in spite of all the progress she’s done, is not getting better. In fact, I think she may be failing. I’m not sure what is wrong. It could be her heart...

She’s a different person when it’s just me here. She sleeps all the time except for when she goes for her walk. When she returns, she’s often out of breath and so exhausted. I just don’t think she will ever return home. There is just no way and it’s not safe for her to do so.

And, it breaks my heart.

I fought for her so long and so hard with the one focus, and that was for her to return home. She was so sick when she first landed in the hospital and it was a tough road getting her stabilized. There were occasions where I felt defeated due to one action / decision when she returned back to the Rehab last time. I knew in my heart that it would make it even harder for Mother to return home if she comes to acceptance of them. And, I was right.

All week long, I struggled with this. I have to face the reality that it’s just not meant to be. I am struggling with the “why” of it all. I also struggled with overwhelming grief and I still haven’t totally dealt with Daddy’s passing. It makes me feel angry… and helpless…

She may be here for years or she may be gone in a heartbeat.

The one thing that may keep her going is that she will be a Great-Grandmother again sometime this coming November. She was so excited and thrilled when she received the call this past Thursday that it was going to be a girl. Yes, it’s going to be a girl! I’m excited, too! I’ll be a Grand Godmother – if there is such a thing. It doesn’t matter. I am really happy for my Goddaughter and her husband and I’m looking forward to my Grand Goddaughter entering the world.

And, it looks like (via facebook) I’m not the only one. Her immediate family already has gone shopping and mailed the unborn child a package. And, the Momma herself already bought a little dress for her unborn child. There is a lot of happiness and excitement and I, for one, am thrilled to see it.

Monday, June 21, 2010

North Padre Island (6/11 - 6/13)

We went to North Padre Island this past weekend for a much needed break AND a belated 16th Anniversary vacation. Dan decided some time ago that we should go to the shore for our Anniversary (because I’m a beach hog); but, instead of going in April, we should go in June. So, that is what we did. We took a nice long weekend too. We had two full days (Friday and Saturday) at the beach.

{Washed up debris with live bivalves embedded onto the wood. I believe these may be Cocquina Clams otherwise commonly known as bean or butterfly shell clams.}

I didn’t take a lot of pictures on account of the beach weather affecting the lenses. Plus, I was more focused on relaxing and enjoying the beach. Dan didn’t take even bother taking his camera along as he didn’t want to get sand or water on his camera or lenses. I was very careful with mine; so, it should be alright.

The last time we were at Padre Island was in April last year and the beach back then was so clean, calm and free of seaweed. However, this time the ocean was very rough and it was extremely windy at times. And, there was tons of seaweed. In some places, the seaweed was knee deep. I think that whoever takes care of the beach is being wise in leaving the seaweed as a natural barrier against oil IF it should ever show up on our shores.

{This picture shows the seaweed – it was like this all along the shoreline.}

There was a jetskier (take note of that idiot jetskier on the right in the above picture). And, there were surfboarders (not in picture). I was surprised to see them as I have never seen surfers along the Texas coast until now. I always thought it was a Californian thing to do. They had to go way out there in order to get a decent surfing experience though – that is too much work if you ask me.

Anyway, we both got sunburned on Friday. We did use suntan lotion; but, neglected to add more throughout the day. What’s interesting is that both of us previously had a “turtle tan” and both of us got burned where the skin hasn’t seen the light of day for quite some time. The exception is that Dan got burned on the tops of his feet and I did not. I think it is because I wear sandals a lot; so, my feet get exposed to the sun frequently. However, Dan wears shoes and hates flip-flops. So, as a result, his feet got burned.

We ended up renting a popup tent with two beach chaise lounge chairs on Saturday. It was pricey ($40 a day); but, well worth it considering we were both burned and I wanted to be on the beach all day. I lathered on 45 SPF suntan lotion AND wore a t-shirt. Dan did the same and wore a tank top.

I went swimming quite a few times and both of us people watched. Dan was quite content just laying here in the shade of the popup tent. He never once got up – just laid there and vegetated. He is not really a beach or water person. However, I think he was happy knowing I was happy. I even had fun burying his foot in the sand and watching mini earthquakes that occurred from his big toe. Ha!

We did something slightly different this time around as far as food. Instead of sticking with the mainstream and driving around to find a familiar place to eat, I wanted to go “local”. So, I did a little research and picked two places to try out. I wrote about them at the bottom of this post if you're interested.

All in all, I had a very good time. I think Dan did too. It was what we both needed -- just mindlessly vegging out and doing nothing. I was extremely sad when Sunday morning rolled around. I had a hard time saying “goodbye” as I didn’t want to return to “life”. It’s been a rough road for me the last year or so. It has not been not easy on the both of us.

{My splotchy sunburn}

Padre Island Burger Company

We went to this place on Friday for lunch. There was a sign saying “Hippies use back door” at the main entrance. Inside, bottle caps were nailed onto door casings and beer coasters were nailed onto portions of the rafters. We chose to sit in a rather cozy area that was quite hidden. There was a ceiling fixture that caught my attention. I couldn’t figure out what it was; but, it had tons of signatures. I found out much later via a flyer that I snagged that it was a Volkswagon hood belonging to a friend of the place who was tragically killed in a traffic accident at age 24. This guy was mostly responsible for the décor including a hand-crafted bar, which seems to be the centerpiece of the entire place.

The menu was eclectic offering Appetizers, Salads, and some unusual ingredients for burgers plates. You get a choice of ½ lb Fresh Ground Beef patty, Marinated Grilled Chicken Breast or Marinated Portobello Cap. Some examples are “First Date” – wild mushrooms, smoked bacon, roasted garlic spread. “The Hang Over” – fried egg, caramelized onions, American cheese. “My Boy Blue” – smoked bacon, blue cheese spread. “The Mexican” – cheese enchilada, avocado, sour cream.

We both went with “Boring” – w/Cheese. Dan went with sweet potato fries and I had regular fries. Once you place an order, they give you this gadget that buzzes when your order is ready to be picked up.

Let me tell you, the prices were a bit steep. (Boring w/Cheese was $8.50 each.) However, the food was delicious. I’m not a burger fan; but, I pretty much ate a good portion of my burger. There was just something about it that was flavorful. Dan thinks it was the bun that had a hint of sweetness. I’m not so sure. I only know that it was the best burger I had in ages. The sweet potato fries were interesting. My fries reminded me of Jack-in-the-Box curly fries without the curls.

I won’t hesitate to go back to this place again should we return to North Padre Island in spite of the cost. And oh, by the way, expect to wait a bit for your meal.

Padre Pizzeria

We went to this place for lunch on Saturday. It is just a simple, clean, and plain “hole in the wall” type of restaurant. They had pictures and “paintings” up on the wall for sale from various artists. All of them were too pricey for me ($75 was the lowest price I saw).

We ordered the medium (12 inch) pepperoni. It was very good pizza. The crust was good and the mixture of cheese topping was delicious. I wished that I could figure out the cheese mixture because I would so love to create the same for our own homemade pizza. The convenience of going to this place is that we didn’t have to go far from the hotel or beach to get eats. I’d go to this place again. But, I may be biased because I’m such a pizza freak.

So there you have it, our Padre Island belated Anniversary vacation.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

San Antonio Missions Game (5/23/10)

We attended a Minor League baseball game – the San Antonio Missions versus the Frisco Rough Riders. It was a hot, entertaining, fun, and long game. We got some of the best seats in the house – first row right over the home team dugout. I was one nervous spectator though – very concerned about foul balls.

There was one time a batter did hit a foul ball and it looked like it was heading straight towards me. I panicked and tried to hide behind Dan next to me. Ha! It happened so fast you really have no time to react – you’re going to get hit no matter what. The foul ball ended up going right into the dugout instead of into the bleachers.

In between some innings, there was quick entertainment going on to keep spectators amused. Some of them were hilarious. Some surprised us. All of them used some members from the audience.

We finally left when the game was tied up going into the 10th inning. I found out later (via Facebook) that the Missions finally won in the 13th inning with a “stolen” base. They headlined their status with “stolen”. Dan disputes that. I know nothing about the technicalities of baseball; so, I don’t know what is what. I know just enough to enjoy the game itself.

Basically, there was a Missions guy on third base. And, a guy hit a fly ball and the Frisco outfielder caught it. And, then our guy on third base ran home. So, is it a “stolen” base? In my mind, it’s a steal. But, Dan doesn’t think it’s a steal. Whatever.

SA Missions have a couple of guys that taped the game and put together highlights on YouTube. You can watch some highlights, including the winning run, here if you're interested.

Below are some random pictures that we took. Dan had his new camera and I was using his old one for the first time. Dan thinks about his shots before taking them. I, on the other hand, have a tendency to just snap away without too much thought. So, I had a lot more pictures than him. Of course, my pictures are not as good as his. I always hope that one out of a kajillion pictures that I take, one will be priceless. Ha! Not this time around.

A chicken,... no a duck,... no a Rooster! Entertaining a team of boys before opening ceremony

My handsome photographer

{picture taken by Dan}
A San Antonio Missions batter with the ball frozen in motion. Dan snapped the picture just before he hit the ball which turned out to be a home run. Forever frozen in time. Ha!

Same guy who hit the home run. he was just taking his time running the bases.

This was one of the entertainment events between innings. They gave that Taco character a huge head start. And, then the kid took off running and tackled the Taco between third base and the home plate. It surprised both of us and then I remembered they did this the last time we attended a game.

{picture taken by Dan}
The cutest little spectator. She was pouting about something. Maybe a bad call? Ha!

Human Bowl. Another entertainment event between innings. This guy got inside this huge bubble ball and then ran towards six huge pins to knock them over. When he hit the pins, I thought for sure he killed himself because he went flying inside that thing. Ha! But, he was okay.

Ballepeño – SA Mission’s mascot. He was on top of the dugout entertaining the crowd doing humorous stuff.

Frisco Rough Riders finally score a run. The game got tied up and went on for eons.

{Picture by Dan}
One of the Frisco Rough Riders pitchers. A series of pictures were quickly snapped and this is what came out of the process.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Snail Trail

I was sitting at my Mother's kitchen table the morning on the first day of June. The sun was rising and I was getting ready to get online when I looked up and spied this...

A Snail Trail

I found the imagery rather striking. So, I grabbed my camera to practice taking pictures. Everything is new to me - I am learning as I go. And, I'm clueless to what I'm doing using this camera and lens...

As I watched this snail wander all over the window, I got to thinking that he was actually sucking up (absorbing) all the dew (moisture). He was actually going for a drink and acting drunk while at it! Ha!

I went outside and was immediately drenched from the humidity. It was hot, muggy and very wet. I was shocked. It's been a long time since I experienced this kind of weather. It's so much drier where we live at now.

The humidity affected my camera lens too. I was able to capture several decent pictures before giving up and going back inside. This was the best picture of them all and even on this picture, you can see evidence of moisture gathering on my lens. I had to be quick and snap a picture before it got all "fogged up" again. it was NOT fun. However, I found that getting these pictures were so worth it.

By the way, I told Mother about the snail when I visited her later that same day. She said to kill it. I said "no way!" She said she doesn't like them because she thinks they're destructive. Maybe, maybe they are. But, if my memory serves me correctly, they prefer decaying plants. Also, they're God's creatures too.

{All pictures taken using a Canon EOS Rebel with Canon EF 100mm f2.8L Macro lens)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Update on Mother & Memorial Day

Mother is doing well. Every time I return to visit and "stay" with her, it seems like she shows improvement. This time, she walked all the way up hall to the nurses’ station and back down to her room with her own walker! Some days, she has to take a break. But, she has made it without a single break (sit down). She is also walking to the shower on bath days (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays).

It seems like she is stronger, she can get her arm underneath herself and push up. But, she still cannot sit up on her own. She is also more optimistic. She is constantly saying “I’m going home, I’m going home”; especially when she’s up walking. She’s very determined that she’s going to get out of that place. So, we’ll see.

I know I haven’t lost hope yet. I really want her to come back home. But, it’s not my call to make…

Anyway, she really enjoyed the hamburger we made for her on Memorial Day. We tailgated: we used a small baby Weber on the tailgate of Dan’s truck to cook the burgers right there on the Rehab property.

By the way, Dan had a huge piece of plywood on which he set an old cookie sheet and the chimney starter – pieces of charcoal dropped down from the chimney starter onto the cookie sheet. It got so hot that it scorched the plywood! It scared me at first because I thought it was on fire. Ha! Ha!

I took pictures with my “new” camera. I’m still learning how to use it and still have a long way to go to getting some nice pictures. Here is a few from tailgating.

Fun in the Kitchen II Extra

This is from the "Pizza Dough" archives:

Pizza Sauce: Fun in the Kitchen I

Pizza Dough: Fun in the Kitchen II

Pizza! Pizza! Fun in the Kitchen III

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Book Review: Echo by C. L. Kelly

Book: Echo: A Silent Plea to Be Heart, a Desperate Cry to Be Found
Author: C. L. Kelly
Publisher: Zondervan Publishing Company; ISBN: 9780310263043
Date Published: July 1, 2007

Product Description:

In book two of the Sensations series, Cassie Dixon's getaway to the mountains with her friends and their thirteen-year-old deaf son becomes a high-stakes search when the boy disappears. Danger stalks the slopes.

The trip to the Cascade Mountains had been Cassie's idea. But what she thought was going to be a time to rejuvenate and relax with old friends may cost one of them their lives.

Cassie Dixon just wants a little time away to forget and to heal after her failed venture in the perfume industry. A camping getaway with the Fergusons and their thirteen-year-old deaf son, Cody, seems like the perfect solution.

Cassie watches as Cody grows increasingly restless, chafing under the suffocating protectiveness of his mother. Encouraging him to explore and to have confidence in his God-given talents, Cassie aches for the boy, knowing that hearing is both the audible and inaudible ways in which we hear each other – and God.

Then Cody disappears … and Cassie feels responsible. Even if she manages to find the boy alive, she isn?t sure she can convince him that God has a plan for his life. But the danger stalking close at hand may settle that concern for both of them.

I picked this book up for dirt cheap in the clearance section at either Mardel or Family Christian stores. It is not often a person can read books, fictional or otherwise, that has deaf characters or is about the deaf. The synopsis was intriguing and the price was right.

For what it is worth, I didn’t realize that this book was part of a series. I just picked it up and started reading it. You don’t really need to read the first book, Scent, before reading this one because it stands on its own.

I found myself identifying with Cody who is also deaf. The author had an empathy and understanding of what it is like to be deaf in the hearing world. The difference lies in the fact that I was born severely hard-of-hearing (HOH) and became severely and profoundly deaf by the time I reached 6th grade. Cody lost his hearing when he reached age 6. So, he knew what it was like to hear.

This book really begins when Cody is about to reach age 13. Cody is very intelligent and well-read even though he’s pretty much isolated due to Mother’s over protectiveness. Cody is a very good lip-reader and speaks well. His Mother and the experts wanted Cody to learn to sign so that he would get everything – total communication. Cody refused because he thought it would rob him of all that the world could offer him. He wanted to be anything his heart desires. So, there was a struggle between him and his Mother over his refusal to sign and over his dreams. He was deeply angry and withdrawn.

This book is not just about Cody; but, it also deals with the characters of both of his parents.

I don’t wish to spoil the book for any of you who have not read it. Suffice to say that I really enjoyed it. It is Christian fiction with suspense and is introspective. At least, it was introspective for me. By the way, the suspense part did not start until the latter half of the book.

My personal rating: 4 out of 5 stars. But then, I may be biased. I have a slight identification with one of the characters than most people would have.