Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017
Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Out with the Cold, In with the Flu - Sunday, January 7, 2018

2018 has not been kind to Bob. First, we had four days when the temperature did not go above freezing. I had a very mild cold with only a runny nose and cough, but no sore throat. It was gone within a couple of days leaving only a cough behind for the past week. 

Bob, on the other hand, came down with a fever, achy muscles, and a severe headache on Dec. 30. A number of people at his work had the flu, and he contracted it as well. He was very miserable. 

We had both planned to do two Volksmarches in Fredericksburg, Texas, but he was in no shape to go walk in sub-freezing conditions. He stayed home to take care of himself and to avoid infecting other people.

Last Wednesday, Bob had an appointment for outpatient surgery and had a good-sized chunk of skin cancer taken out of his back. On Thursday, he saw his dermatologist and had maintenance freezing of skin cancer done to a number of spots. And Friday, he had a routine colonoscopy. All this while he was definitely still under the weather. (All of these appointments had been made months ago.) Poor guy.

For the past eight days, he has done minimal work at the office. He did go in to pick up his work computer so he could work from home. The flu has really kicked his butt. Today is the best he's felt since Dec. 30. It's not like him to be sick.

Because of the New Year holiday and an extra paid day off by Sun Communities, I worked two days last week and got paid for four. Very nice! Thank you,  Sun Communities!

On January 2, my friend Susan and I went to see "The Greatest Showman." Both of us loved it. The movie tells the story of P.T. Barnum's early career and how he came to organize his circus. This movie is definitely a musical. Almost the whole movie is singing. A lot of the music was composed by the musicians who created music for "La La Land." I particularly enjoyed the parts of the movie that dealt with his love for his wife and girls. He took a few missteps along the way but generally did right by the people who were in his show.

After the movie, we went to Susan's house to work on a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of vintage posters. That was a fun puzzle! She got that one, and some others, from Half-price Books.
Vintage Posters - a 1,000 piece
Eurographics© jigsaw puzzle
After working two days, I drove Bob to his colonoscopy appointment on Friday, January 5, and waited for him in the waiting room. All went well. They found two small polyps that the doctor sent off for biopsy. The doc thought they looked benign. 

On Saturday morning, January 6, I was up bright and early to volunteer from 8-10 a.m. at the first checkpoint on the Alamo Quarry walk (6k and 10k walks available). Two walks were scheduled and my checkpoint was not the well-attended one. I had about 16 people come by my checkpoint before 10 a.m., with a total of only 35 on that walk for the day. 

A second walk started from the same place (Corner Bakery at Quarry Marketplace) which over 100 people did--it was the walk that went to Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Museum and Olmos Basin Park. My friend Susan volunteered at that checkpoint and they were busy all morning.

When our volunteer shifts were over, Susan and I met at Corner Bakery to do the 10k Museum Walk. Unlike last year at this walk, when the temperatures were in the 20s with a wind chill making it even colder, today's temperature started out in the high 40s and moderated to mid-50s by early afternoon. It was cloudy and downright balmy after our sub-freezing temps around New Year's Day. (We did not have any rain. Always a plus.)

Walkers registering
Special thanks to our volunteers!
The walk started with a loop around some beautiful homes in Alamo Heights (Paddington Way/Haverhill Way), and then we headed through more beautiful neighborhoods on our way to Olmos Park. 

We then did a loop around the soccer/football/softball fields at Olmos Park Basin, then headed east toward Barney Smith's Toilet Seat Museum. The museum is unique and kitschy, but you've gotta love Barney Smith and all the work he has put into his collection (which he made). Volksmarchers have been walking to his museum for years, and every year we have signed our names to toilet seats. Barney is now 96 years old and in great spirits. He greets us each year. His wife passed away about four years ago.

Mardi Gras and Fiesta toilet seat art
Each year Volksmarchers sign the toilet seats.

Randolph Roadrunners 2013 toilet seat
Randolph Roadrunners 2018 toilet seat

Barney Smith and me in his museum
Barney was a plumber for many years. Below are the pieces of silverware he removed from sink traps.

Gray around the photo is ash from
Mt. St. Helens
State quarter collection
Below, Susan Medlin, our Regional Director, is talking to Barney Smith's neighbors about Volksmarching.

Volunteer Audrey - thank you!
From the Toilet Seat Museum, we walked back to Olmos Basin Park and finished our walk back to Corner Bakery. 

Bike path from Olmos Basin to Quarry Marketplace
Quarry Marketplace used to be an actual quarry
And here we are, back at our start point. After a 10k (6.2 mile) walk, we are ready to eat. The Corner Bakery has wonderful food. We enjoyed our lunch very much. 

After lunch, we went to Susan's house to start a new jigsaw puzzle. It was a wonderful day, but we missed Bob!

Today, January 7, Susan and I did a 10k walk at Leon Creek from Bandera Rd. to Culebra Road. After our walk, we headed to Simi Indian Restaurant for their Sunday buffet. They opened at 11:0 a.m. It was so good. 

We had to hurry and eat because we were heading to Wonderland Mall's Santikos Bijou Theater to see "The Shape of Water." I have to admit this movie was not my cup of tea. It's a sci-fi love story that takes place in 1962. A merman is in custody at a top-secret government facility. Two housekeepers at the facility find him and want to get him away. To me, this movie had way too much gruesome violence. It had a nice love story, but that's not enough to save the movie. 

The rest of the day, I took it easy. Bob is feeling better today. I hope he continues to improve because this flu has not been easy on him. 

That's all for this week. Enjoy 2018!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

In with the New - Monday, January 1, 2018

In the morning, we had breakfast at the Days Inn in Fredericksburg. I had a Belgian waffle and a hard-boiled egg. 

Susan and Darren were raring to go, so we left Fredericksburg a little after 8:00 a.m. I wanted to follow them in case there was a problem with ice on the roads. (There wasn't.) The temperature was 19 degrees with a wind chill of 7. Brr.

I made it home safely. Bob was still under the weather and hadn't done anything. He was achy all over with bad headaches. 

We had a very quiet day today. I ran out and shopped for groceries.

The temperature in San Antonio has not gone above 29 degrees today. This evening, Bob went outside to make sure our outside faucet was dripping. It wasn't. He took a pitcher of warm water outside and poured it over the faucet. It did not work to get the water running. 

Photo from summer showing where outside spigot is --
it's on the front left side.
I boiled water in the teapot and poured it on the spigot. After a couple of minutes, I was able to get the water dripping. Three more times I went out, but the water had stopped dripping. Each time, I left a stronger drip going, until finally, I had to leave a small stream running. Before bed, I will check it again. 

The temperature tonight is supposed to get down to 26. I just checked, and the temperature is 25. Time to go check the faucet again.

We are not used to this cold in South Central Texas!

Have a great week. 

Monday, January 1, 2018

Out with the Old - Sunday, December 31, 2017

Did I mention I had five days off in a row, and now it's six? Wow, I feel like I got a whole vacation!

Last week, Delia asked me to trade Sun., Dec. 24, for Thurs., Dec. 28. I worked Sunday and she worked Thursday. That gave me Thursday through Monday off which included Monday's holiday. [NOTE: How we got an extra paid day off: Sun Communities had a challenge that if "x" number of manufactured homes were sold by year end (in parks that sell homes), everyone in the company would receive an extra paid day off. Those parks completed enough sales for us to have that extra day, and Tuesday is my day off with pay. Very nice! Thank you to everyone who made that extra effort!]

For New Year's, Bob and I were going to go to Fredericksburg, Texas, for two Volksmarches. However, Bob got the flu and could not go. He was achy all over, chilled, and had a bad headache. I was just about over my mild cold and I went. 

On a chilly Sunday morning, I drove to Fredericksburg and checked in for the day walk at 11:00 a.m. It was 33 degrees. My friends Susan and Darren had already started the walk, but they went to lunch. I was maybe a mile into the walk when I stopped to take a photo of the historic peanut factory.

Fredericksburg's historic peanut factory buildings
As I was putting my camera away, Susan and Darren caught up to me. They were doing the 5k walk as well. It was nice to have my buddies to walk with. The first half of our walk was mostly residential.

Just as we were coming up to our walk checkpoint, I saw a man and his puppy. The puppy looked just like him. I asked if I could take their photo and he said, "Yes." I asked if people tell him that his puppy looks like him, and he said, "All the time."
Joe and his pup, McLovin
With the first half of our walk and checkpoint stop complete, we continued on our walk and got confused by the instructions which had a couple of wrong turns listed. As we walked down the street we really weren't supposed to be on, we had someone with a telephoto lens taking our photos. Turns out, he works for the local paper and was doing a story on the walk. He was looking for people walking who were carrying the green sheet of walk instructions. Wow, we may have our photos in the Fredericksburg newspaper! He was using the same walk instructions we were and apparently we were the only ones who hadn't been given the corrections to the walk turns, so he found us.

The second part of the walk was down Main Street, past all the shops. It's so fun to look in all the windows, but we didn't take time to shop today.

Gillespie County Court House
The store below (Rustlin' Rob's Texas Gourmet Foods) is a favorite to shop in. They put out samples of jams, jellies, mustards, salsas, BBQ sauce, etc., and put out crackers or pretzel sticks to use for taste testing. You can eat your way around the store. Not today for us, though.

Susan and Darren window shopping
Fredericksburg was founded by Germans in the mid-1800s and many German traditions are upheld here. There is a Marktplatz in the center of town with a Vereins Kirche (now a museum). 

All about the Marktplatz
Susan in front of the Tannenbaum
When we Volksmarch, we earn pins and badges for kilometers and events walked. In addition, we can earn or buy badges. Below is a photo of my friend Susan's fleece jacket with some of the gorgeous patches she has acquired for completing various special programs.

Susan Medlin's badge jacket
Below is a 26-foot-tall, wooden, hand-carved Christmas pyramid. We'll be back to look at all this tonight.

26' tall Christmas pyramid
Vereins Kirche Museum in the Marktplatz
 Tonight's festivities at the Marktplatz are listed on the sign below.

Sign denoting Fredericksburg's sister city in Germany
After the Marktplatz, we scurried back to the Gillespie County Historical Society building where the Volksmarchers will hold their New Year's Eve activities. We checked in from our walk, had our books stamped by the wonderful volunteers, and chatted for a bit. We were thawing out, too. 

The plan for the afternoon was to check into our motel (Days Inn), for me to grab lunch, and then see a movie in the evening (Jumanji 2). Once we finished the movie, we would do the night-time 5k walk (that everyone else will be doing at midnight). We would then prepare snacks for the Volksmarch New Year's Eve Party. The party is from 10:30 pm to midnight. At 12:01 a.m., those who want to brave the cold can do a 5k or 10k walk to ring in 2018.

My experience checking into Days Inn was not good. When I arrived, I was given a room, went and unloaded all my stuff from the car. The room looked old and worn with mold or mildew on the ceiling in the bathroom. Ugh. But it was only for one night. As I went out the door of my room to go get lunch, I locked the door. Then I shook the handle to make sure it was locked. The door pushed open. I tried it again, four different times, and I could not get the door to stay locked.

I hauled all my stuff out to the Escape pod and locked it up. Then I walked down to the office to report I needed a different room because the door would not stay locked. Instead of just putting me in another room, he had his maintenance guy walk back up to the room to test the door. Same result: The door would not stay locked. 

I walked back to the office and was given another room. The maintenance guy came with me to make sure the door would stay locked. It did. I also inspected the room. The front drapes had two of the hooks at the top hanging off, so the maintenance guy got those put back up. I looked around the rest of the room and noticed there were no bath towels. We traipsed back down to the office and I was given bath towels. 

When I went back to the room, I noticed in the bathroom there was a plunger next to the toilet. The other room had not had a plunger in the bathroom. Uh oh, what could this mean? I flushed the toilet and the water came up, but it didn't flush down. I tried again two more times, same result. I went back down to the office and the maintenance guy came back up with me. He used the plunger as hard as he could three times before the toilet finally flushed. So, I got to stay in that room. 

It looked like the carpet hadn't been vacuumed in a week and there were hairs on the top front edge of the bathtub. When I hadfirst looked at the outside of the room, it looked like someone had bent the window screen. I checked the windows and they weren't locked. I locked both windows. My mantra: "Just one night...just one night." I guess you get what you pay for. All the nicer motels and hotels were getting $200 to $400 per night. I paid $56 for the night and I survived. Susan and Darren were staying in the Days Inn too, so at least I had friends nearby.

For lunch, I went to the Sozial Club and had a BLTA. It was okay. I don't think I'd order it again. The Sozial Club's specialty is pizza, but I couldn't eat a whole pizza by myself.

Jumanji 2 was playing at 5:45 p.m. so I had time to read part of my book and relax. Susan, Darren, and I loved Jumanji 2. We thought it was hilarious and exciting. It was much better than the first Jumanji movie. 

If you're not familiar with the story, Jumanji is an ancient game. Four high-school kids stuck in detention in an old room of their school, find a dusty machine with a "Jumanji" cartridge in it. They all wonder what it is. The geek of the group figures out how to make the machine work. Each of the kids has to choose a character to play in the game. 

They get sucked through the machine into a different world and all have been changed into their characters. Their arms have three bars, indicating the number of lives they have in the game. If they tap on their chest, a screen comes up telling them their strengths and weaknesses in the game. 

The action and interaction of the characters was great fun. You got to learn about each person's motivations and fears. Some deep emotions came out during game play and the kids developed a deeper understanding of each other.

After the movie, we played around at the Jumanji display.

Jumanji display at the theater
From the theater, we went to the Historical Society. Susan made sure the meatballs in the Crock Pot were getting hot. My plans changed as I was going to do the walk at midnight, but decided to go with Susan and Darren from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. The temperature was 24 with a wind chill of 14. There was a light, sleety rain coming down. I'm shivering just thinking about it!

We set out on the 5k walk. I have to say, doing the walk at night with all the Christmas lights and decorations was quite lovely. Our pace was quick, though. 

After a few blocks in a neighborhood, we spent most of our walk on Main Street. 

Church lights
Pioneer Memorial Library
Gillespie County Courthouse (compare this
with the daytime photo above)
Fredericksburg General Store
Because of the cold, we were dressed in multiple layers. I had so many clothes on, I told Susan I felt like the Stay-Puft marshmallow man from Ghostbusters. She said she felt like the Michelin Man. But our choice of warm clothing paid off. I was comfortable everywhere except my face and lungs. When we started out, my lungs hurt from breathing the cold air. Thankfully, I had a scarf around my neck. I wrapped the scarf up over my nose to protect my face and it helped, but it caused my glasses to fog up. Sigh. Breathing through the scarf made it so my lungs didn't hurt.

Ritzy window display
Another window display
Downtown Fredericksburg, TX
Attention-getting vehicle for a gallery
Quite unique
Cute decorations outside a wine store
Admiral Nimitz Museum
And then we returned to Marktplatz at night. It was just gorgeous. There was a live country western band playing in one tent. Another tent had an ice-skating rink. Not many people were there yet, but it was just cranking up when we got there at 9:15 p.m.

Marktplatz park all lit up
O Tannenbaum!
26-foot-tall, hand carved Christmas pyramid
Marktplatz park lights
Ready for the Ball Drop at midnight
Gillespie County Historical Society stained glass windows
The Marktplatz park was only a couple of blocks away from the end of our 5k walk. While we were away, the hall was decorated for the party. It looked so festive.

Once back at the historical society building, we finished prepping and setting up the food for the New Year's Eve Party. Susan had warmed up BBQ meatballs in the Crock Pot, made her Artichoke Heart dip in the toaster oven, and had spinach dip as well. We washed and cut up veggies for the veggie tray. Susan also baked a Texas Sheet Cake and boy was it good! Other people brought snacks as well so we weren't going to go hungry!

Part of the snack buffet, move arrived later
Guests started arriving at 10:30 p.m. We ate, drank, and made merry.

Richard and Cathy, early arrivals to the party
Just before midnight, we had a countdown and then, "Happy New Year's" ensued.

As soon as everyone was done wishing Happy New Year, those who wanted to do their first walk of the New Year were given instructions as they headed out the door. 

Then we cleaned up the food and headed back to the motel. 

Happy New Year to you and yours!