Love, Faith, Peace and Joy

December 25, 2008

 BEAUTIFUL  1

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xmas-lights-095-1 CUTE!

ELEGANT!

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and … CREEEPY

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That is how you can describe some of the lights we saw in Brownsville, Tx.  this Christmas.

Remember the old-fashioned lights from yesteryear? Well, this is them on steroids.

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 Lit up, they looked beautiful.

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This was the side of somebody’s garage and their front window.

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 This was a very large Nativity scene.

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This trailer parked in front of a house made us wonder how they made the money to pay for their fancy country club house.

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 It was nice to see the ones who went all out.

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This Santa with the reindeer in mid-flight looked cool.

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This was a garden in someone’s back yard.

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This tiny ladder caught my eye.

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 These tiny creatures climbing a ladder to the roof had to have been the most adorable decorations I saw.

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 Some houses looked spectacular in just plain white lights.

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While others jazzed it up a bit with bright colors.

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 This house lit up one corner on Boca Chica Blvd.

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  This house was beautifully decorated.

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The girls put the reindeer’s size into perspective when they stood by it.

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This was the sight I longed to show them: Christmas lights reflected off a resaca’s surface. A resaca is the kind of bodies of water we have down here in this tropical area.

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We live in a tropical area so seeing a decorated palm tree was nice. This one was 40 feet tall. They had to have thrown the ornaments up there because they were waaaay up there.

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This was a regular tree but the lights created the illusion of a palm tree.

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 These girls were pooped and tried to sleep on the way back to Port Isabel.

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 Tried to, anyway. 

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The night I took this picture was the night the father of these beautiful twins was injured in a horrific 30-foot fall. His back was broken and he is paralyzed. Please pray for him, these girls and their mom and brother. If you can contribute to the fund that was set up to help them with the incredible blow that has befallen them, please donate whatever amount you can to the : “William A. Plouffe Fund” at Lone Star National Bank – gift account 2905004843. He is in critical condition and the family needs your help badly. If you and 99 other people give just $5.00 that would be worth a million to us. These girls are only 13 and their world has been rocked by this tragedy. Their daddy was the major breadwinner and now Mom has taken a leave of absence from her Walmart job to be by his side. There is no other income but what is donated out of the goodness of people’s hearts. Please help them for as time passes, people’s interest will wane but their dad’s condition will stay very, very serious. Thank you for your kindness and know that we appreciate everyone’s prayers. May God bless you and your family as well as the family of these beautiful girls who brighten up a room like a ray of sunshine when they enter it. Have a blessed Christmas.

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This One is for Sunclay

December 21, 2008

My best friend said, “Let’s go to the flea market,” and I agreed because there is not much else to do in Brownsville, Texas if you are not doing something that you are doing that is not on the TOP 100 THINGS TO DO IN THE SOUTH PADRE ISLAND/BROWNSVILLE AREA list. Someone recently implied that it must be a sorry place that announces fresh produce as one of its major things to brag about. I beg to differ. This place is paradise. My best friend has lost 150 pounds and if it weren’t for the fresh fruits and vegetables that are so plentiful here, her diet would have been outrageously expensive or so bland it would have been impossible to stick to. My best friend looks beautiful and is now doing some modeling.

 more-bottles-0231 I absolutely love my BFF. She is awesome!

She has invited me on her trip into Checkmeoutnowland and I have lost 3 inches at my waist and 15 pounds so far. I want to look good on the beach this summer. I have begun on my New Year’s Resoluting already because I can’t afford to waist time waiting for the 1st of the year. (I figure I need a headstart with all I gotta go.) My new resolution is to get in shape and stay there awhile instead of  just look good at the event I aimed for and then go back to my regular lifestyle of eating popcorn while I watch exercise tapes, riding my bike to the nearest ice cream shop, asking the nurse to weigh me again AFTER she takes a blood sample to see if it makes the number lower, ordering a bacon cheeseburger, fries and shake with a DIET Coke and so on. If there were not such a proliferation of fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from, I would not be succeeding as well as I am now on this self-imposed deprivation or as you call it, dieting. These are some of the vegetables we have available here now a week before Christmas.

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A friend whose moniker is Sunclay informed me about what it is like up north and told me the ground is frozen up there. I can’t comprehend that. Frozen dirt? WTH?

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I haven’t traveled anywhere really and never up far up north so I can’t comprehend cold or the seasons of fall or winter. The seasons we have in Texas are: almost summer, summer, late summer, and winter where it may go down into the 30’s for a day or so.

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We are thankfully NEVER at a loss for incredibly sweet, luscious fruits.

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Juicy citrus is the norm here.

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There was an episode of Gilligan’s Island where a crate of radioactive vegetables washed up on shore and the vegetables had extraordinary effects on the person who ate them. Mary Ann ate the carrots and could see for miles. Seeing the size of these carrots, bought today – Dec. 20th, at the local flea market reminded me of that episode.

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I placed the salt and pepper shakers next to these fruits so that your mind could be blown too when you find out that these are Valley lemons not oranges.

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These fruits reminded me of that catalog I loved to look at so much, Gardener’s Choice, where you can buy freak trees and plants such as this. I always suspected that the genetic engineers there came up with their freaky ideas after work at the lab while sharing a bottle of Jack.


Again the lowest gas in the nation and Happy Halloween

October 29, 2008

 

Again the Rio Grande Valley has the lowest gas in the nation. People in other parts of this great country are still paying over 3 dollars a gallon in some places.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were in Harlingen trying to get a Halloween costume for our daughter where I was again hit by the “Worst Mom in the World” syndrome. This syndrome is common among parents who are first-timers and discover that if you wait too long to get something you may deem yourself a loser in the parent game. It has happened to me twice at Easter time when I could not for the life of me find an Easter basket in the whole town of Brownsville, apparently I had waited too long and the good parents went and bought them all from all the stores in all the town. I said to myself, “Well, I learned my lesson.” Then it happened to me again the very next year.

 

This time it has happened again but on Halloween. All Walmarts, the specialty Halloween shops, Kmart and Targets are dangerously low on Halloween costumes and I am afraid that if you have not bought yours yet for your little one you are going to be doing the crafty make-your-own this year. I was searching for butterfly wings and was disappointed store after store in town after town in this beautiful valley then only after purchasing a replacement headband that had little ears on it, (I figured she could be a kitty if we painted whiskers on her) did I have the blessed luck to look in a shopping cart of mismatched and miscellaneous items where I found the elusive wings. I almost cried from relief and I said, “Thank you, God,” at least ten times thanking Him for the wings and for the bottles that a girl gave me that will allow me to do my art project for the upcoming Mercado on South Padre Island. I did my first bottle already and it looks AWESOME!

  This guy was smart and got his costume early.


A Museum Trip Worth the Drive

October 26, 2008

My job as a writer for the South Padre Network took me to the far reaches of the Rio Grande Valley today and I thought it was so ironic to see the following flower, known as the bird of paradise, a paradigm of exotic and rare beauty…

in the front of a common fast-food restaurant.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is a testament to the beauty of this area.

An exotic flower like that… in front of a Burger King. Will the wonders never cease?

apparently not…

not in this lifetime…

 

This is my daughter playing on a kettle drum at the museum we visited today.

It had incredible works of art. For example, this was a Chinese PAPER cutout. 

 

 

 

. You would not believe how tiny the details were.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This box was incredibly detailed and inlaid with ivory.

 

There was a great array of mosaics all over the museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 This flower reminded me of the tropical beauty we have in the area.

Each one of these differently colored pieces of wood, when touched, produced a different sound.

The sound is triggered by the heat in your hand.

The NASA exhibit was cool.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The screen was a ball that had different images projected onto it.

 

 

 

 

These images were spinning around.

 

 

 

The fast blinking colors were hypnotizing in the dark room.

The images were shot by two projectors.

 

 

In another room were housed incredible pieces from private collections.

 

 You cannot see how the mother-of-pearl inlay reflected the light iridescently.

If I lived in the area I would visit the museum on a regular basis because they offered classes in many mediums and had many intriguing exhibitions. This museum was the IMAS in McAllen on Nolana and Bicentennial, quite a drive, but well worth it.


Another Beautiful Day in Paradise

September 27, 2008

87 degrees. Warm and breezy. That is how it is here practically year-round. Need I say more?


Winter Texan Site Coming Soon!

September 21, 2008

A very dear friend of mine is going to collaborate with me on the development of his site, www.southpadreskycam.com. This is where I plan to have my features and articles showcased. This will still be a place to come for inspiration, encouragement and hope. I am doing the best that I can to write about this beautiful area and attract more winter visitors but if I could centralize my work here and then have people come to it, it would be better for all involved. My friend is going to enlighten me with the technical aspect of it soon so that those looking for a place to go will have a taste of what it is like down here in the Rio Grande Valley. I will be shown how to put pictures into my work as well so that readers can see how incredibly beautiful it is down here. This is a great blog and will be a source for all to use to get the inside info on this balmy tropical paradise. This would be a great place for people in Florida and other generally “tourist” areas to come to to help them decide that this area of South Texas is the place to be.


The Best Mexican Food – Tamales

August 17, 2008

We are spoiled down here in the Rio Grande Valley… spoiled and fat. The reason we are so fat is that the food is so good you just can’t stop eating it. You want to cure an anorexic? Stick them in a house down here with tortillas de harina, fried eggs, bacon, chorizo con frijoles refritos, with salsa and a good hot cup of coffee… and that’s just breakfast. I went to one of my favorite restaurants in Brownsville today with two friends who were just discovering downtown Brownsville’s goldmine of shopping pleasures. One ordered a big, fat chile relleno that came with that white delicious crumbly cheese in it. The other lady ordered barbacoa because she said it being Saturday, it was a rarity to find. I thought, “Lady, if you have HEB, a crockpot, and some fresh corn tortillas, you could have it any day of the week for only six bucks or so.”  I had gone on and on about this restaurant to them, about how good the food was and how cheap it was.

The first time I went to that diner, the food was taking too long, I felt, and I was about to complain when the waitress brought me my food. I opened up the white paper that the tortillas came in and I was shocked!

Now, there are 4 types of tortillas: Bad flour or corn or good flour or corn tortillas. There is a huge difference between the kind of tortillas that are store-bought and the type your “abuela” makes. (By the way, everybody’s grandmother makes “the best” tortillas. That is what everybody thinks, but my mom’s were really the world’s best.)  Well, this restaurant in Brownsville serves hot, fresh homemade corn tortillas, the kind that you use a tortilla press for. I own three of those stupid silver tortilla presses. One I bought because I thought it would be neat to be so nostalgic. The second, I inherited from my mother. The third was given to me by someone who didn’t even know what it was. She thought it was some kind of automotive repair tool. At least I know what they are and what they look like. Getting them to work is an entirely different matter indeed. You have to line the sides of the press with plastic wrap, then squeeze and press the “masa” glob you put in the center of it until it forms a beautiful and perfect circle of love on the base. I spent all my time scraping the stupid sticky dough off the plastic with my fingers trying to form a ball that wouldn’t stick to the cheap plastic that kept tearing. I couldn’t get the sticky dough off my fingers so it was soon all over the press, the table and my clothes. Needless to say, I now have none of those shiny nostalgic corn tortilla presses. They are out on the side of the house by the old roller squeeze-wringer washing machine, the washboard, Led Zepplin 8 tracks and the Atari.

The women were not as awed as I was when the tortillas came to our table. They had no clue how hard homemade corn tortillas are to make. I might add that one lady asked, while we were making chit-chat, and snacking on hot fresh tortilla chips and four types of salsas. “Why don’t we have a “tamale” making party?” I was impressed because she was a blue-eyed blonde and “tamale” is not a word they usually have in their vocabularies. I said, “You know how to make tamales?” She said, “No.” I thought, “No wonder she wants to have a tamale-making party. She has no clue how hard those are to make.” My childhood memories of tamale-making involve many older ladies sitting or standing around an oval table with a huge mound of masa smack dab in the center of the table in a big, ol sticky glob. Piles of corn husks lay waiting to be covered in a thin layer of masa, or cornmeal dough, spread thin using the back of a silver spoon held by my childhood slavery hands. I remember the old silver grinder my grandma used to grind up the meat that was the filling for these steamed delicacies. I call them delicacies because they seem delicate when you open them hot and try to bite off one end before the weight of it breaks it in two. They come in groups of 35-40 when they come off the heat. When you lift up the lid and lift the cloth that was the roof for their little powow you see them all circled around like a mob trying to see what the fuss is all about. Delicious in their steamed goodness, these babies are an art that is slowly dying. Some lady in San Antonio, I believe, invented the Tamalerama or something like that, that is a plastic thingamajigee that reduces the spreading time to a split second. No more tedious spreading the masa with a spoon. The days of the old Mexican ladies from the neighborhood coming over for a tamalada are no more. No more sitting around the table, spreading embarrassing family gossip and vicious rumors and lies with the best of intentions. Gone are the days of hand-turned grinders, spices measured “al tanteo”,  and “seguros” hanging onto aprons until their next big task.

I mentioned tamales come off the fire in groups of 35-40 spiraling outward from the center of the pot. I did not mention how fast they disappear. These tantalizing tubes disappear one right after the other they are so delicious. I don’t even know why people think that one or two dozen will suffice when buying for a family. That is like a recent national news report that said having 4 or 5 drinks is binge drinking. That is a warm-up where I come from. One dozen tamales may be enough for two people in my world. I don’t know what is normal but I do know what good food is and making tamales is one skill that should be treasured before it goes the way of the ringer-washer and 8-track tapes .