Thursday, November 2, 2023

Fall Fun: Night Skies, Heat Relief, Roses, and Witches

Hey, there.  It’s been a while since my last blog, so I’ll fill ya in on what’s been happening in the life of this Rambling RV Rat.


Having survived the entire summer in East Texas, we were thrilled that October brought us more comfortable Autumn temps and relief from the oppressive heat!  Much needed rain showers changed the grass color from desert brown back to emerald green.  With a period of 30+ consecutive days of 100+F degrees this summer, we now understand why East Texans wear hats, gloves, and winter coats when temps get in the mid-60s.  You can imagine how freaked out we all were (yes, after this summer, we are full-fledged East Texans) when our Piney Woods area experienced a cold snap in late October—temps in the 30s and 40s overnight!      


We have witnessed several wonderful celestial events:  from meteor showers to a blue moon so bright and large, you could see the craters on its surface (though I didn’t observe any cows jumping over it), from the International Space Station (ISS) orbiting to the Starlink Satellite Train passing overhead (thank you Elon Musk for providing us terrific service!)  But most magnificently, we experienced the annular eclipse.


We were hoping that the excellent results of Dad’s post-bypass-surgery stress test would see us back on the road by now.  Instead, the atrial fibrillation (a-fib) that Dad developed AFTER his quad by-pass decided to act up in early August for the first time since leaving the hospital in January.  Dad has taken his vitals twice a day since his heart attack/stent insertion in 2017.  And a good thing he has done this religiously, since he noted immediately that his rate was significantly higher than usual.  (We suspect that eating Chinese food for the first time in 1.5 years was the culprit since MSG can trigger a-fib, Asian cooking often contains MSG, and the onset of the a-fib occurred less than 24 hours after consumption).    Dad had a cardiologist appointment within a few days of noting the consistently higher and irregular rates, which resulted in additional medications.  (Ironically, we were paying out-of-pocket for a home monitoring device to detect his heartrate daily and send reports to his electro-cardio physicist.  We soon learned that the reports were sent monthly but the doctor’s office was reviewing them only at 3-month intervals.  By the time the electro-cardio physicist’s office notified Dad of his heartrate inconsistencies, the issue had already been addressed by Dad’s cardiologist.  (Mom packed up that device and shipped it back to the manufacturer quicker than you could say “rip-off”!)  Dad’s next appointment in late November was to determine/discuss whether cardio aversion would be needed.  But God blessed us again!  Dad went back in sinus rhythm on October 30!   Say a prayer that he stays this way—we are anxious to get back on the road!


When Dad went into a-fib, his cardiologist advised him to continue all his regular activities and exercise regimens.  And we surely have been following the doctor’s orders!  We still play pickleball 3 times a week with our growing group (which ranges in age from 12 to 78.)  Parks and Recreation has approved the plan to add real pickleball courts, and work is scheduled to commence within the next 6-8 weeks!


In remembrance of the tragedy of 9/11, we attended a ceremony held at Livingston Municipal Complex.  We also participated in the Travis Manion Foundation 9/11 Heroes Day Run in Houston.  Though we had no precipitation for months on end, it rained torrentially that day, hindering our ability to ride Maximus the Trike.  We needed ample time after our 1+ hour commute to hunt for parking to accommodate Big Boomer, our medium duty truck.  So, we left at the ungodly hour of 5:45 a.m. (Mom was in a comatose state).  Mercy was shown upon us:  we found a spot to park Big Boomer only a few blocks away from the starting point, and the rain stopped completely by the time the 5K walk commenced.


My parents and fellow VFW Post 8568/Auxiliary at the finish line of the Travis Manion 9/11 Heroes Run in Houston

While Dad now attends his Masonic Lodge regularly, Mom has become more active with the VFW Auxiliary, assisting with their Garage Sale fundraiser, the Breakfast to honor two local Gold Star Families, and a District Meeting.   We continue to volunteer regularly at Mannafest, one of our local food pantries.  Sadly, the number of families needing assistance HAS DOUBLED since we started volunteering in April, a clear indication that inflation has had a severe impact on the average American household.


Gold Star Family Breakfast

We attended the World War II B-17 monument dedication at the Montgomery County Veterans Memorial Park in Conroe, TX. The new monument memorializes the Texas Raiders who were killed in Dallas last November during an air show.  It was a lovely ceremony in a beautiful park that we had wanted to visit on many occasions and never had the opportunity.


War Memorial within the Park

Escapees friends Lisa/Jim were back in town for a short period, so we enjoyed getting together before they hit the road again.  And we have attended several Park pot luck dinners and ice cream socials, getting to know more of the  Escapees homeowners.


But it is our passion for dance that has filled our calendar the most these days.  We take 2+ hours of line dance lessons every Wednesday and attend the weekly Saturday evening dances at our local VFW, joining several of our classmates and instructor in showcasing our moves.  My parents are now performing with our dance troupe at fall festivals, fundraisers, and senior healthcare facilities, which requires attending practicing two extra days per week for several hours each day!  (I can’t imagine the regimen the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes endure!)  But it is loads of fun for us and quite heartwarming to watch folks tap their feet, clap their hands, and even get up to dance along with us.  Dancing provides a simple but much appreciated pleasure.  You can watch some of our Hot Steppers’ performances on my Rambling RV Rat YouTube channel.

PoPo's YouTube Channel

Performance at Cold Spring Volunteer Fire Department Fundraiser

Performance at Agape Love Foundation Fundraiser for Victims of Domestic Violence/Human Trafficking

Performance at Cleveland Health Care Center

I look a heck of a lot better in this petticoat than Mom does!

A well-deserved dinner break after a performance.

Some of the members of our Wednesday night dance class.  Between beginners and intermediates, we have 1/2 dozen men, though Dad is the only one who performs currently.

We took Maximus the Trike to Tyler, TX for their annual Rose Festival, held the third weekend in October.  It was a brisk 55F degrees when we departed at 5:30 a.m.  We stopped in Nacogdoches for breakfast at the Fredonia Hotel, where Stephen F. Austin State University (which is now part of University of Texas) was celebrating its centennial.  The hotel was hosting the Alumni Association and was adorned in purple/white, the University colors.  Fortunately, we departed the area right before the homecoming parade commenced!


We arrived in Tyler just in time to park Maximus and walk 4 blocks to view the Rose Parade, which was very well organized considering they had thousands of participants (significantly more than actual spectators).  The parade lasted 2 hours with a variety of entrants, from marching bands to gymnastic teams, from classic cars/trucks to the antics of the Shriners in their go-carts, from floats sponsored by local businesses to the latest graduates from an obedience training school (Mom asked if they trained husbands, but alas, their services are limited to dogs).  There were many cultural/heritage groups that donned their traditional attire, and the gowns worn by young ladies celebrating quinceanera were exquisite, more elaborate than my low-key Mom’s wedding gown!  This was the 90th Rose Festival held to honor the local companies that produce 75% of all roses nationwide.  The Festival’s theme  this year was “Story of Film”.  So, all the float decorations and the attire of the Festival Queen and her Court were representative of well- known films, from classics like “Wizard of Oz” and “Gone with the Wind” to contemporary works like “Matrix” and “Hunger Games”.

How cool is this giant motorized shopping cart! 

This obedience training group only has dogs as clients--no spouses!

After the parade, we attended the “Queen’s Tea”.  Complete with red carpet, this was a full-blown hob-knobbing-with-the goober-smoochers soiree.  Those whose attendance at this event is a decades-old family tradition were all decked out:  formal gowns for women and tuxedos for men, light, airy day dresses for young girls and young boys in their Sunday-best suits.  There were some "commoners" dressed in shorts and sandals, too.  However, it was my parents who made the biggest fashion faux pas—arriving in their “biker duds”.    We walked among the dignitaries, took a few pics, partook of some refreshments provided by the newly-crowned Rose Queen, then went to admire the real stars of the show:  the rose gardens.  Many of the roses were past peak, but considering the sweltering summer they endured, I was grateful to see rose blooms at all.

We then visited the Goodman-LeGrand Museum.  The original 1859 home was a one-story, 4 room cabin divided by a breezeway.  But it was Sallie Goodman-LeGrand (the third generation of family to live in the house) who transformed it into its current glory.  It was the first home in Tyler to have electric (installed in 1898), and indoor plumbing was added in 1923.  Remarkably, 90% of all the furnishings on display are original to the home, including the hand-painted ceiling added in 1880, which has NEVER been retouched.  Since Sallie and her husband who predeceased her had no heirs, Sallie donated this 9-acre property to the City of Tyler for use as a museum.  The docent was terrific, weaving a boatload of information into a fascinating narrative.  Should you ever visit Tyler, I highly recommend you visit the Goodman-LeGrand Museum.  It receives one of my coveted 5-cheese awards!


Hand-painted ceiling circa 1880.

We checked into Twelve Oaks, a small non-chain motel that lived up to the great reviews it receives on-line.  We are always happy when we can support small local businesses.


We enjoyed an early dinner, showered, and took a nap before heading back out for a night of dancing at "Cowboys", a country western club.   But our Google driving instructions landed us at a club called "Buck Wild".  We were a bit perplexed--was this the right place?       Then we learned when ownership changed, the dance club name changed as well, but no one updated the website.  Relieved that we weren’t walking into some pole dancing joint, we enjoyed doing about a dozen line dances with the other patrons.  Then about midnight, the gangsta rap and twerking took over.  Since the club was closing at 1 a.m. anyway, we decided to call it a night.  The following day, we had a leisurely, enjoyable trike ride home to Livingston.

Lots of line dancers at this club!

Before you could say Ghostbusters, Halloween had arrived!  It is a special holiday for my parents.  In their younger days, they entered costume contests at nightclubs and dance venues, earning themselves more than $10,000 in cash and prizes over a 10-year period.   In recent years, they don’t worry about creating prize-winning costumes, but they certainly still enjoy dressing up and attending dance venues.  This stuffed rat thinks Halloween is no longer for kids and trick-or-treating, but instead is about giving adults a rare opportunity to act as kids.


One of the early"\ less elaborate creations...

...a slot machine and roll of quarters.

Dad loves costumes involving fake blood.  This was the motorcycle victim and emergency room nurse.

The headless waiter.  Dad had tubing installed in Mom's waiter costume so she could still enjoy her cocktails.  He, on the other hand, needed drinking assistance as the head on the platter.

King Neptune, Roman God of the Sea, and his mermaid.  Hard to tell in the picture, but there is water and air tubing within 2 layers of tempered glass to give the illusion of being underwater.

We did "reuse, repurpose, recycle" for this costume.  Creature from the Black Lagoon with his mermaid "underwater".

Halloween Party at VFW Post 2849 in Cleveland

Dad made it to the semi-finals in the costume contest at VFW Post 8568 in Livingston...

...and friends Willi and Billy won First Prize there.

Well, that’s all for now folks!   Can't believe how time is flying--the holidays are right around the corner.  I promise I’ll talk to you again soon!


  1. Wow…you guys are the busiest couple we know! Your Halloween costumes over the years are pretty cool.

  2. Oh my, those were some awesome and interesting Halloween costumes! Hope the good news/health continues!