Monday, March 31, 2008

Padre Island National Seashore

Today we took a drive to this local state park. Dad's home is in a neighborhood of closely spaced homes, but on the other side of the street is 65 miles of open land. It is absolutely beautiful. I keep trying to capture the essence of how big and open everything is, but I just can't do it justice.
I was very disheartened to drive into the park and see all these security cameras. I almost wanted to leave.
This cabin is part of the old line camp where cowboys used to bring their cattle on the cattledrives. Maggie really wanted to walk the 1/2-mile down there, but we weren't dressed for the occasion, and we had no water bottles. Hopefully we will go back prepared.
The park has a wonderful indoor education center. We learned that the three most common animals to be aware of on the beach are these crabs,
these mice, and most dreaded of all,
these rattlers. Rattlesnakes are a very real threat around here. The schools are having major problems with them being nearby.
There are 65 miles of beach that you can drive on or camp on. That seems to be a very popular thing around here. Right now the beaches are full of smelly seaweed. We saw the annual seaweed cleanup begin this morning.
The wildflowers are beautiful.
This park is very cheap. Dad pays $10 for a yearly pass. We drove past a few dozen RVs and campers today. Most were from Ontario and Quebec, Canada. I guess the warm weather draws them. Dad says that during the summer months when the water temp is 88 degrees (F), the beach will be packed with RVs for miles and miles. This is prime beachfront property!
On Sunday, we went went to this tiny church in Corpus Christi called Lighthouse Baptist Church. There were 65 people in attendance, counting every child and adult.
I felt like we were in a small mission church on some faraway island. The pastor preached a good sermon for the service, and his father preached a good sermon for the Sunday School.

We are looking for ways to serve in this church while we are here. Tonight Dad went to help install the new bathroom while I am going through the pantry looking for any items to give to their food pantry.

It feels different to live in a county where we are a minority. The breakdown for this county is Hispanics-54.5%, Caucasian-34.5%, Native American-2.5%, African American-4.7%, and of course, other. I looked up my own county back home in Maryland, and the breakdown is 81.6%-Caucasian, 13.9%-African American, and the rest, other. Some difference!

Thank you, everyone, for your many emails letting us know you are praying for us. We are so thankful for many, many answers to prayer. Maggie is doing well. Her Doctor says this week we should start to see the first signs of improvement. We are all hopeful and prayerful. We will keep you updated.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Joe's Crab Shack

Today Dad took us to town for lunch at Joe's Crab Shack. There is another JCS in town, but Dad wanted to take us here for the scenery. I'm glad he did. It was beautiful.
The restaurant is right on the water in what I call Corpus Christi's Inner Harbor (can you tell I'm from Baltimore?). I don't know what the locals call it. Dad told me the fascinating story of how the last hurricane wiped out this whole area 45 years ago. Now there are two water barriers. I'd enjoy walking down the piers reading the different names on the boats.
My children enjoyed this little birdie who came to watch us eat.
I guess he's used to the wind.Joe's Crab Shack is three stories high and is very rustic. We enjoyed reading all the signs hanging throughout the restaurant.
The girls and I chose cobb salad and it was delicious. Lots of bacon, avocado, and shrimp, with a delicious raspberry viniagrette dressing. Dad got fish and chips, and Allen got grilled chicken. We really wanted to get some seafood, but everything we wanted had butter or milk in it. I noticed Anna automatically cut up Maggie's salad for her. It will be nice when Maggie gets completely healed and can cut her own food. As it was, her hands gave out before she finished her salad, but she refused to let us feed her.
During the summer, this water barrier also serves as seating during boat shows. That must be neat! I'm not a city girl by any means, but I do appreciate the beauty of this city.
After lunch, we drove down to the shrimp boats and bought crabs for dinner. Dad was upset that he forgot to buy shrimp, but the crabs were more than enough.

While Dad was buying crabs, we looked at this reproduction boat of the Nina, the third boat that Christopher Columbus sailed. This reproduction was commissioned by the Queen of Spain in 1989 and is permanently launched here. Allen was fascinated by it.
So here are the crabs. There were 16 crabs for $8. Are you reading this Pastor Nevin???
This is not a crab-eating town. The reason Dad got crabs is because he asked the fisherman to get them. These are the crabs that got caught in the nets. Usually they just throw them back in. We could not find any crab hammers. Gonna have to import those from Maryland! We found two steel meat tenderizers and shared those. We also didn't have any paper bags, so we used a bunch of plastic Walmart bags. We didn't mind!
Maggie enjoys dressing up in Dad's western gear. She wouldn't let me show you in the chaps. Do you see the twinkle in her eye? Today Maggie had tingling in her fingers ~ her feeling is returning in her hands! We were told not to expect any changes for a week at least. We are sooo thankful for this huge sign of progress. Dr. Krugman grades his patients' conditions as grades 1-4, with 4 being irreversible. He put Maggie in grade 2-3. Because she was worse than he had anticipated, he is only seeing her in the mornings. Those nerves have been pinched for years, so he wants to release them gradually. Sounds right to me!
My sourdough brownies turned out well. They are more of a cake brownie. We had no trouble making them disappear. All agreed this is a keeper recipe. I baked this recipe in a 9x13, but at home I would have used (and recommended) my 12x18 for a flatter brownie.

We are off to the big flea market today. I hope to pass a garage sale or two to find a cheap bike for Ruthie. We were supposed to leave bright and early, but Grandaddy and the children stayed up talking until 1 am. Now everyone is groggy and late, so we'll see what happens.

Enjoy the weekend. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Friday, March 28, 2008

Sacred Harp Singers

One of the events I was looking forward to attending this spring, is the Potomac River Sacred Harp Singing Convention. If you enjoy folk music with a spiritual message, you may enjoy this. This music is 4-part singing, with no accompaniment. It is not really beautiful music as in cultured, but raw singing as in folk mountain music. The Convention is April 4th and 5th.

If you live within a few hours' drive, I highly recommend you go to this annual event. To learn more about Sacred Harp Singing, go here. The sacred harp is referring to your voice, that is, the musical instrument you were given at birth. To hear some of this music, go here to hear four songs. To find a Sacred Harp Singing close to you, go here.

One of my favorite blogs to read is written by the Servan Clan. They have a wonderful post about Sacred Harp Singing.

If you go, please let me know! I'd enjoy hearing about it. And if you live near me, let's make plans to go next year!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Thursday, March 27, 2008

How cool is this! A Texas cake pan made by Wilton. We couldn't resist. Today we went to the huge HEB grocery madhouse. It is a huge grocery supercenter that took my breath away. As always, when we go to a new grocery store, Maggie and I checked out all the nondairy items. Weren't many. However, we did find this:

It's nondairy, unsweetened baking chocolate in 1/2-oz squares...and only $1.35 for 4 oz! So tomorrow I will be baking Chocolate Sourdough Brownies. I'll let you know how they turn out.

In San Francisco we shopped at Von's, in San Diego we shopped at Ralph's, in South Carolina we shopped at Winn-Dixie, and in southern Maryland it's McKay's or Giant. But here in Texas, HEB rules. (It's pronounced H-E-B, sounding out each letter, not hebs that rhymes with webs.) I asked several people what HEB stood for, and they said, Here Everything's Better. But I googled it, and it really stands for the store's founder, Howard E. Butt.
This is a picture of Dad enjoying a good movie. Dad is hearing impaired from many years of not wearing ear protection around heavy machinery and guns. So he found this newfangled headset that allows him to listen to the movie without driving the rest of us crazy. We enjoy making fun of him because he forgets that we don't have headphones on, and he yells when he thinks he's talking.

The temps are in the low 80s with wonderful breezes. It is a real delight to take my daily walk. My hubby would love this area with the large areas of water. Hope everyone is enjoying spring. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

This is Maggie and her miracle worker, Dr. Daxton Krugman. Today I got to see Maggie's x-rays. What a distorted spine. No wonder my baby has been in pain. Dr. Krugman says Maggie's spine is consistent with what we told him about her trauma 9 years ago when she fell off the deck of our home. My question now is, how come the other doctors/chiropractors couldn't see that?!
Today we had fun on the beach. This time my children went swimming. The water temp is in the 60s. It is so much fun having the whole beach to ourselves.
This time I drove Dad's truck to the beach (1/2-mile from home) and felt safe knowing it has 4-wheel drive if I should get stuck. All the man-of-wars are gone, not a one in sight. Now the children have to learn the "stingray shuffle" which means they have to constantly be shuffling their feet side to side so the stingrays won't attack them. If it's not one thing it's another!
Here's Allen with the metal detector. We took turns using it and found a total of $1.48! I had a hard time taking this picture because the sun was so bright.
I made some Sourdough Sugar Cookies last night. Yummy! Even Grandaddy liked them although he still can't believe they had no eggs. I think he was scared of what I'd be feeding him but he said he's been pleasantly surprised. He bought a turkey that I cooked today. Now we have lots of good turkey meat leftover for meals. Right now I am making broth out of the scraps.

Maggie is still in pain, but the sadness is starting to leave her eyes. I also notice she is sleeping a lot, probably a sign that her body is working hard to heal. Even though we affectionately call Dr. Krugman our miracle worker, it is God who is the Ultimate Miracle Worker and has heard our prayers for Maggie's healing. We want to be like the lame man who "went walking and leaping and praising God."

Many blessings ~ Kathie

PS ~ Our laugh for the day came from Ruthie. When Ruthie found out that Maggie goes into a room and is alone with Dr. Krugman, she turned to her and said, "Maggie, don't forget your pepper spray." Guess all my years of training have caught hold!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Recipe for Sourdough Sugar Cookies

1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 tablespoons milk
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

Mix sugar, shortening and cream. Add eggs, vanilla extract, salt and sourdough. Fold in flour and baking powder. Roll on lightly floured board; cut with knife into 1/4-inch slices. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake on cookie sheet at 350 degrees F for 10 to 12 minutes.

Yields 24 cookies.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Padre Island in Corpus Christi, Texas

We're here! It took us 31 hours but we did it. Twice we stopped to take naps for 1-1/2 hours. I'm so glad we drove straight through. I enjoyed all the wonderful western scenery in Texas. A lot of cattle and trains.
You can see why they say, "It's a big country." You can see for miles and miles across the flat Texas prairie.
Corpus Christi was a shock for me. Every store imaginable is here. There are three Walmarts within a 5-mile strip. (All three still sell fabric...with wonderful prints!)
I enjoy all the cactus plants around the stores.
Padre Island reminds me of San Diego. Same kinds of homes with the Spanish tiles. Lots of maritime influence. My parents are very proud of their plain front yard. When they came down this past winter, the yard was covered in weeds and sand burrs. My Dad says Padre Island reminds him of Florida 20 years ago.
You are free to drive on the beach (this is our minivan)...
and camp on the beach! There are very few folks around. And the drivers are so nice! Maybe it's because of my Maryland license plate.
March is Man-of-war season. Now they are dying off and we see hundreds of them all over. The deadly tentacles dry up quickly, so you don't see them here. Allen brought his metal detector to see what he can find. I'll let you know if he's lucky.
My children are enjoying living in a neighborhood.

Today we went antiquing and enjoyed talking to the locals. Maggie is seeing the chiropractor every day. Unfortunately she is experiencing pain before she'll get better. Nothing new for her though.

We are really enjoying our time here. The Lord allowed so many obstacles to be overcome to make this trip possible. For those of you who are praying for us, I will keep you updated on Maggie. So far, so good.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How do I love spring? Let me count the ways!

Maggie took my camera around the yard and took some pictures of my spring blossoms. I enjoy spring so much! The only thing I miss about living in a neighborhood are the colorful pear trees, forsythia and weeping cherry trees.
My peach orchard looks wimpy after the drought. I think we may have lost a few. But they sure are pink!
And here's my little forsythia that I saved from the dumpster. Finally starting to show hope.
Today was our big day to have the XYZers over for lunch. I almost forgot to take a picture. Here they are having dessert. We sat 24 people comfortably. Our music program was really skimpy thanks to allergies, but no one seemed to mind. (XYZ stands for Xtra Years of Zest.)Have you ever seen that I Love Lucy show where Lucy and Ethel get a job in the candy factory while Ricky and Fred stay home to be housewives? Ricky makes a pot of rice but doesn't read the directions. The rice just keeps growing and growing...well, last night I made three batches of sourdough dough and put them in my large 2-gallon stoneware bowl to rise overnight in the refrigerator. I kept dreaming of waking up to find dough seeping out my refrigerator. Here's how high it did rise. (This is right before I punched it down before forming into rolls). My sourdough rolls were a big hit. I forgot to take a picture of the risen rolls, but they rose and completely filled in the dishes. But I noticed a few people chose to eat two rolls and no dessert. Such will power!

We're leaving for Texas at 9 am tomorrow morning. I did 8 loads of dishwashers today. Am I ever thankful that I have two dishwashers! The dishes have been put away, the tablecloths are washed and pegged outside, and the large platters are in the pantry. I'll be offline for at least 2 days while we drive to Texas. Takes 28 hours. I am reminded of the years that Mike went away on sea duty for 6 months, only now I'm the one going!

Enjoy your weekend. We are strongly aware of all our praying friends and family. Gives us much comfort. To God be the glory.

Many blessings ~ Kathie