Retama on the Road

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Enough already of this cold, rainy weather!  High 45

We started our Sunday morning with George’s traditional breakfast – grits and eggs.  Today, he switched out the bacon for some smoked salmon.  Tasty! 

He took a day off from working on the roof, as he is sore all over.  It can wait until the weather improves later this week.

The afternoon was filled by working on our photo presentation for tonight’s “Retama on the Road” presentation.  Sometimes technology is so aggravating!  We could not figure out how to sort the photos on George’s computer, so used my tablet.  But, when we tried it out, the computer/TV hookup was not compatible with my Android.  Aargh!  Plan C – put everything on my phone to use.

Our new business cards arrived in the mail.  We use these quite a bit when we are traveling….when people want to follow the blog, talk to us about Harvest Hosts or Trusted Housesitters.  When we first started RVing, we were surprised at the number of people with business cards.  Front and back….

George squeezed in a bit of pool (billiards), and then it was time for our Sunday night “Retama on the Road” first session.  About 20 people attended.  This evening’s topics were Florida, Nova Scotia, and Big Bend.  A fellow Airstreamer just returned from a 2-month road trip to Florida, so he spoke quite a bit, and showed photos.  I introduced Nova Scotia, and then a couple from Halifax helped me out with more information.  There was a lot of conversation (which we had hoped for).  We ran out of time, so I will finish up Nova Scotia next session, and introduce the topic of Big Bend. 

DINNER:  George braved the cool weather and grilled some a mahi mahi filet for us for dinner.  I turned it into an Indian meal with Kitchari (thanks, Trader Joe’s!), toasted naan, and steamed peas. 

On the roof!

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Yucky!  We are so tired of this cool and rainy weather.  High 44

George worked the entire day, again, on the roof.  He comes into the house periodically to warm up his hands and to throw his gloves in the dryer.  He is on a mission.  I can’t persuade him to stop and wait until the weather improves.  He wants to get it done!

Here is the view from the front…

And here is a “rear” photo….

While he worked, I played.  I had a 2-hour line-dancing session in the morning.  We learned several new dances including some really funky ones.  I like the fact that line dancing has so many different kinds of music.

Then I went to a friend’s  house for an afternoon of playing charades.  I haven’t done that for years!  There were 6 of us, two teams.  It was hilarious with several of the guesses being “R-rated”.  What a hoot!

DINNER:  A recipe I found online without a name.  It is vegetarian, and could be vegan with a Parmesan cheese substitute.

1 onion sliced
4 T olive oil
16 oz tagliatelle pasta
1 garlic clove smashed
salt and pepper
pizza pepper flakes
4 c corn
3 c chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup Parmesan

Cook the tagliatelle as per package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water.  Drain and toss with 1 T of the olive oil to prevent sticking.

Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven-type pot, saute the onion in 3 T of the oil.  Saute slowly until onions are soft and brown.  Add corn and tomatoes.  Cook another 5 minutes,  adding salt, pepper, and pepper flakes.  Add pasta,  basil,  and parmesan.  Drizzle pasta water if needed. 

A bit unusual, but tasty, and very easy. 

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Misision, Texas
WEATHER:  Another cold, miserable day.  Misty all day.  High 42

George worked the entire day (8AM – 5PM) working on the shed.  I feel  bad for him working in the bad weather.  He just wants to get it done. 

Meanwhile, I took some walks and read/finished my book.  Pretty slow day

The pickleball coordinator here took some photos last week, when it was nice weather.  This shows that I can actually hit the ball once in a while…

We have a Retama Buy/Sell Facebook group where people advertise things they want to sell.  I bought a nice cutting board (new) from a resident the other day.  It is quite large, so I can use it as a serving tray.  Here are tonight’s dinner ingredients all chopped up on it…..

DINNER:  Shrimp and Grits. 

I used leftover grits, but you can make yours from scratch, using a lot of cream and butter.  When finished, add some cheddar cheese, stir, and set aside.
Shrimp, peeled
salt and pepper
Cajun or seafood spice
Yellow onion
Bell pepper
Green onion
Chopped parsley

Cook the grits, adding a lot of cheese at the end.  Set aside.  Saute bacon, onion, bell pepper, and spices in olive oil.  Once cooked, add shrimp. Combine everything, heat up, and  top with parsley. 

BOOK:  “The Huntress” by Kate Quinn.  This is a work of historical fiction about the search for a Nazi war killer and her hunters.  I couldn’t put this book down.  5 stars out of 5

Winter is back…..

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Back to winter!  Rain and overcast all day.  High 45

Wow – just the other day, I was sweating with 94 degree temps, and now we are back to winter!  George worked all day in the mist and cold weather on the shed.  It is quite the project!  He is adding a roof to the enclosure that houses the A/C, water heater, and water softener systems.  We had to get special permission to do this, and the roof cannot be visible from the street.  This requires a lot of creativity on George’s part.

Meanwhile, while he was working outside (with just occasional help from me), I was a slug and sat inside in the warmth and read ALL day.  I have a good book going about WWII. 

Being so close to the border, we get undocumented people racing through our neighborhood almost every night.  Last night, Border Patrol whizzed past our house on a chase.  They rounded up this group of young men.  It is such a sad situation.  I just don’t know the answer to the problem.  One hears conflicting information about the people – 1) that they are truly desparate refugees seeking asylum, or 2) they are just criminals fleeing their country and creating more crime in the USA. 

The wall is less than a half mile from our house.  Work on it continues sporadicallly.

DINNER:  Leftover Asian stir-fry over rice.  We paired it with some hot sake’ which tasted good on an evening like this.

After dinner we watched the final episodes of some of our favorite PBS shows – “Around the World in 80 Days” and the new version of “All Creatures Great and Small”.  I can’t wait for the next season. 

Animal life in the winter…

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very pleasant in the AM;  drastic cool-down in the PM.  High 73

I played pickleball for an hour or so this morning.  We had some guest players and one of the good players in our group introduced me as the VERY new player.  Gosh – and this is my second year playing!  I didn’t think I was THAT bad!

Then, a rush to the clubhouse for a mat yoga session.  Always a good stretch.  I rode my bike to the clubhouse, loaded down with yoga mat, swimsuit, and swim gear.  Sadly, the pool was closed for maintenance and I couldn’t do water aerobics.

A neighbor who is a nature photographer posted these photos from her backyard.  We are so fortunate to enjoy nature when most of the world is covered with snow.

Another neighbor spotted this armadillo in her garden…..

It seems like today was rush-rush.  In between activities, George continued his work on the shed and I did some computer work, reserving a campsite for a night next week on South Padre Island.

A neighbor on our same street invited us over for happy hour.  They have a casita, too, so it was interesting to see the similarities and differences between our houses.  There were 2 other couples – one from Nebraska and one from Wisconsin.  One of the women is originally from Spain, so I always enjoy talking with her.

DINNER:  Cauliflower Salad.  This is vegetarian, but could be made vegan with vegan cheese…

1 # cauliflower, cut into florets
4 T olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
1 T plus 1 tsp  za’atar spice
1 T lemon juice
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 oz good mozarella broken into pearl-shaped balls.  (I used smoked mozarella – tasty)
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
chopped parsley

Place cauliflower on baking sheet.  Drizzle 1 T of the oil on the florets and sprinkle salt and pepper.  Bake in a 400-degree oven for 30 minutes, until roasted.  Cool until ready to use.

Meanwhile, make the dressing…….Whisk the rest of the oil, lemon juice, and za’atar. 

About an hour before serving, mix everything together.  Pretty tasty.  For our tastes, we jazzed it up with hot sauce.

Modeling on National Margarita Day!

LOCATION:  In our casita in Retama Village, Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Hot!  High 90

I taught my Basic Beginner line dance class.  Always fun! 

Then,  off to the boutique to get ready to do our style show modeling.  This was my first outfit….

About 50 Retama Village women ate a light lunch at the tea room next door to the boutique in downtown Mission while we modeled the clothes.  It is a fund-raiser that we do most years.  Here is another lady modeling a cute dress with her husband modeling a shirt (brave man).    We all had fun doing this…

This was the second outfit I modeled.  It is SO not me.  However, everyone said it looked cute and urged me to buy it, so I did!  Along with the funky earrings.  I said no to the hat and shoes, though – mind the budget!

George picked me up after the style show to stop by the City of Mission water department.  We had received a “last chance/water cut-off” notice on our new house.  When we set up the new account, something must have gone awry as they didn’t have our autopayment information.  George waited in line for about an hour to get this done.  Bureaucracy at its finest!

George is working really hard to add a roof to our air-conditioner enclosure.  Once the roof is on, it will be more like a shed.  Maybe he can then move some things out of the house? 

Who knew…..Today is National Margarita Day!  Our Airstream friends invited us over for margaritas and street tacos on their patio.  Of course, I wore my new dress! 

DINNER:  Since we ate so much at their house, we didn’t need dinner (again). 

He Said Beer; She Said Wine

LOCATION:  In our casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice, but windy.  High 80

Each year (non-Covid), Retama Village puts on a style show.  The coordinator works with one of the boutiques in the area and asks for volunteer models.  I have modeled the last 2 times, and again this year I will do it.  So, today I went to the boutique to try on different outfits to model.  The owner worked with me to dress me from top to bottom – outfit, purse, shoes, and jewelery.  I will model two different outfits.  Ladies from Retama Village pay to attend the style show and the proceeds go to one of the poor elementary schools.  We models get a discount on purchases from her boutique.  It is a win-win!

The afternoon was spent cooking and cleaning, getting ready to host our “He Said Beer’ She Said Wine” party.  Four other couples and we are doing this.  I coordinated it, based on the book….

We had decided to do tapas rather than a regular meal, and to do it “progressive dinner” style.  The idea is to sip a beer and wine with each food item and to “vote” on which is better.  The five courses were:

House #1 –
                     Food:   Smoked salmon with shrimp
                      Wine:  A bubbly – a Spanish cava (like a champagne)
                      Beer:  Hoppy IPA

House #2 –
                     Food: Mushrooms stuffed with crab
                     Wine:  Pinot Noir
                     Beer: Wheat beer

House #3
                      Food:  Meat sliders
                      Wine:  Cabernet sauvignon
                      Beer: Red Ale

House #4 –
                      Food:  Fish cakes
                      Wine:  Chardonnay
                      Beer:  Lager

House #5 –
                     Food:  Cheese board with fruit and chocolate
                     Wine:  Port
                     Beer:  Chocolate Stout

I managed the voting process.   Wine won each pairing.  Then, I broke it down to see if voting was gender-based.  It was – females voted mostly wine and the guys beer.  It was a fun night, with delicious food.  The weather cooperated so we ate/drank outside at some people’s houses; indoors for others.

The event took about 3 hours, as we did a lot of chatting.  With all that food, we didn’t need dinner.  And, with all that beer and wine, we made it an early night. 

Oyster inaguration!

LOCATION:  In our casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  Sunny.  High 78

A great Sunday, with Sunday rituals – George’s bacon, eggs, and grits breakfast along with “CBS Sunday Morning” then later Sunday Bloody Marys.  Aah….what a life!

We went to the next door RV park to attend their “Art in the Park” afternoon.  They have a woodshop where people make beautiful things.  They held an auction selling beautiful wooden bowls, etc and their clubhouse was filled with people selling their crafts.  I bought some hand-made earrings. 

Then, our friends came over to inaugurate the outdoor kitchen of our new casita.  We served oysters on the half shell.


DINNER:  A week or so ago at a restaurant, we had a delicious sandwich made with avocado and shrimp.  Tonight I tried to duplicate it, but with a tortilla instead of bread.  I simply mashed the avocado and added a few spices, and sauteed the shrimp briefly.  Toasted the tortilla, and then made a sort of quesadilla, minus the cheese. 

Finishing the move….

LOCATION:  In our casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Very nice.  Sunny.  High 68

The morning was spent doing line-dancing.  We had a guest teacher who is excellent.  She knows hundreds of dances by memory, whereas when I teach a dance, I have to look at the step sheet constantly. 

Yesterday, I mentioned that we are bringing our flowers from the old house to the new house.  Today, we continued with the transfer by moving our artwork.  George  had fun (NOT!) hanging the pictures.   🙂

These are Japanese prints in the main room.  The big one was drawn by the local mailman showing the landscape next to the rural Japanese golf course where George was working in the 1970s.  The small ones are woodprints with Japanese country life scenes.  George’s parents bought these originals when they lived in Japan in the 1950s

These are a set of watercolors from France that we hung above the desk in our bedroom.  A few years ago, we did a housesitting assignment in Normandy.  The homeowner is an artist.  She sketched these pictures of some of the chickens that we took care of during our assignment.  After we left, she starting raising sheep.  She named her first lambs George and Karmen, and then sent us this sketch of them.  What an honor!

This third set of artwork, above our bedroom dresser,  showcases a quilt that my great-grandmother made in 1893.  I inherited this quilt from my uncle (in Alberta, Canada) who somehow had managed to have the needle and thimble she used to make the quilt.  I took the quilt to our community quilting group to see if they could repair the quilt.  They said it was beyond repair, so instead I made this shadow box with a corner of the quilt, thimble, and needles.  The photos show 5 generations of the quilt – 1) my great-grandmother (the quilter), my grandmother, and mother in one photo; then 2) my grandmother, mother, myself, and my daughter in the second photo. 

I also worked on my new project.  A friend and I are hosting some information sessions for our Retama Village residents to share their experiences on the road.  This is the email blast I created called Retama on the Road

I have no idea how this will go….stay tuned!

DINNER:  Some leftover pork sauteed with onions and mushrooms in a chicken broth sauce.  Sides were baked sweet potato slices and salad with LOTS of tomatoes (both George and I picked up big containers of tomatoes while shoppng this PM).

BOOK:  “Woman with the Blue Star” by Pam Jenoff.  Fiction based loosely on true events about Jewish families hidden in sewers, surviving in Poland under German control during WWII.  5 stars out of 5

Moving the flowers…

LOCATION:  In our casita in Mission, Texas
WEATHER:  Sunny, but cool.  High 66

I walked over to the pickleball court this morning with about 45 degree temperature, and no one else showed up!  I batted the ball a little for practice, but without moving around playing, I got too cold and went home.  Wimps!

Since the house has sold (fingers crossed), we are bringing ou flower pots and artwork to our new house.  We had left them at the old house when the realtor was showing it.  Since our outdoor kitchen  tile and bar stools are orange, I am trying to include orange flowers as highlights.

This is the front of the house….

And this is the outdoor kitchen bar….

George was busy with ping pong, pool, and working on our shed.  Our new house came with a partial shed to enclose the air conditioner, water heater, and water softener.  He is putting a roof on it so it can be used for storage. 

A friend and I are preparing to do a series of presentations about camping around the USA and Canada.  The idea is that we will have sessions where residents share their experiences/wisdom and  talk about their favorite campgrounds/RV parks, pretty driving routes suitable for RVs, interesting places to visit, and fun places to eat and drink.  My friend and I will host the events and hopefully get people to talk.  We met today to do some initial prep work.  We are calling it Retama on the Road. 

By afternoon, the weather was pretty warm, and I biked around a bit. 

DINNER:  We had some quick leftover cassoulet as we needed to head out for tonight’s event.

We went over to the next door RV park where a pianist was playing.  It was kind of like a piano bar.  He is excellent and catered to requests from the audience.  We went with two other couples.  Since parking is tight, we only wanted to take one vehicle.  So, we took a pick-up and we women sat in the back – hillbilly style!  I’m sure we looked a bit odd – 3 old ladies in the back of the truck!!!

BOOK:  “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen.  Based roughly on real circus life in the early 1900s, the book flips between a 93-year-old vet who worked with the circus back to his hard life there and then.  4 stars out of 5