Saturday, January 12, 2013

Wintering in McAllen, Texas

It has been awhile since I have sent out any further postings, sorry about that.  Last week we had several days of cold, wet and windy weather.  We were fortunate if the weather warmed up to fifty degrees during the day!  We had very little desire to even get out and walk any short distance.  Most Winter Texans spend their time playing cards or bingo when the weather turns bad, which is not for me.  Then I saw a notice in our community hall from a food pantry.  The Rio Grande Food Pantry was in need of packers and sorters. John and I filled out an application to work as volunteers and consequently spent an afternoon there this week.  The pantry is in an old citrus warehouse, stacks of non-perishable items fill the large rooms there.  Some of the containers have food to be sorted and packed, many boxes have already been filled and are ready to be distributed to the 200 food agencies which are located through out the Valley.   We worked with two men who are also retirees, and later two college students joined us- they just wanted to kill some time while they are on break from college.  We were also informed that sometimes the workers are people sent in from the courts who have to put in service time.  Anyway, the work was a bit more labor intensive than we expected, especially when it came to filling boxes with 40 pounds of can goods, weighting them and placing them on a conveyor belt.  John and I got smart after awhile and worked as a team, it did make the load lighter!
We also have joined the Texas Chorus and spent one afternoon this week in our first rehearsal.  The chorus is a group of Winter Texans, residents of the many recreational vehicle parks in the area.  Last year there were about 80 members joining the chorus.  I was surprised at how our well our first rehearsal went, many of the voices have been in choirs for years.  Our director has been leading the Texas Chorus for about 14 years and is an excellent musician.  I also like the musical selections which we will be doing, one of which is a Broadway number.  Our first performance, with an orchestra, will be in the beginning of February.
Tuesday our sister-in-law Mary Jo unexpectedly had to go into the hospital for surgery.  Fortunately she is now on the mend, but it has been an interesting experience for me, having been a nurse for many years. The hospital is a few blocks from our home and is very reflective of the Hispanic culture which dominates this part of Texas.  The medical center seems to be in touch with the latest technology and took good care of Mary Jo, they just do many things differently- which we found to be true of a lot of our experiences here in the Valley.  I just have to keep in mind that this area was once part of Mexico and the rate of poverty here  is one of the highest in the nation.
Today the weather was quite warm and muggy, but we were anxious to get out and hike. Pictured above is one of the wetland areas of the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.  It was established as a sanctuary for migratory birds and other wildlife in 1943.  The Rio Grande River forms the southern border of the park.  We were there by late morning.  The sky was overcast and it was quite windy- all not very good conditions for seeing birds or other wildlife.  However, we plan to be back next week for one of the refuge's guided birding tours.  My sister Linda is arriving here tomorrow and I am sure she will be anxious to join us.  Once she is here we will certainly start exploring the Rio Grand Valley more.

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