May 2018
Summer is in full swing here in Arizona...daily temps range between 90* and 105* and we haven't had any measurable precipitation in months.  However, we have acclimated
and adjusted and have not been uncomfortable...except in highly air-conditioned rooms where we try to remember to take a sweater with us.  They tell us that there are
about 450 open mailboxes here in the park which translates to about 600 residents.  We still don't see much traffic when we're out and about, but when there is an
announced gathering people do appear.  We have enjoyed a flexible and loose agenda without a daily alarm clock.  However, we still seem to be at the first tee of the golf
course most mornings somewhere between 6:00 and 7:00am to take advantage of free play.  Some days we play 9 holes, others we make 18. (And once in a while we take a
day off)   It just seems to depend on how well we slept, how hot it is, and how early we got started. Remember, its a walk only course. There are others on the course, but
we're pretty well spaced out and can take our time.
While not a day of major significance in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has become a "big deal" in the US, especially in areas of large populations of Mexican heritage.  So it was
that the park sponsored a "fiesta" on May 5.  A local Mexican restaurant brought in their staff and grills and pots and pans and on a 100* afternoon cooked us a fabulous
meal in that parking lot.   About 200 residents were entertained by a great Mariachi Band while enjoying the tasty food.
Tasty food, fun music, good friends.
Happy Cinco de Mayo!
On to the next celebration....   We made the 2-day trip to Leander, Texas (just north of Austin) for a visit with daughter Ann and family.  On Thursday, May 10 we all went to
the campus of Texas State University in San Marcos (just south of Austin) to attend the graduation of our oldest granddaughter, Coffey Ann.  It seems like just a few months
ago we drove to Columbus, Ohio to welcome her into the world, but in fact its been 20 years and 9 months!  We are so very proud of Coffey and all that she has
accomplished. (And of her parents who led her in the right direction and gave a little help along the way!) We throughly enjoyed spending a few days with the family and
being a part of this great occasion.
In the words of our #2 granddaughter, Close Ann, who also
attends Texas State:

"My sister graduated!!! She works harder than anyone else,
graduated in 3 years,
summa cum laude, wrote an honors thesis
about something I don't understand, won student employee of
the year, was a RA for 2 years, served as the student curator
for the honor's college, competed in debate and Model Arab
League, traveled to Washington DC twice and to London, and
helped me out always.  We don't know what's next, but we
know it will be impressive."
Close decorated the
mortarboard and Mary made
the stole. Coffey earned the
medals and cords.
Coffey received her degree in the first of 8 separate graduation ceremonies at Texas State that weekend.  Her degree is a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Political Science
and a minor in History.  The title of her Honor's Thesis is "Show Iraq the Money: United States and United Kingdom Technical Assistance to the Baghdad Pact".  She is hoping
to work a bit to save some money and to attend graduate school in the near future.  After the ceremony the crowd of 400+ graduates, friends and family gathered on the
lawn of the Coliseum for photos and hugs and then most of the graduates followed tradition and walked on down the hill and jumped in the river!   The San Marcos River
runs through the campus and is crystal clear and always 72* as it is spring fed. Along with a laptop, mini-fridge and backpack, to go to school there you need a giant
inner-tube for frequent float time.
Coffey with proud Mom and Dad
Three sisters
Coffey and boyfriend Nate
Coffey with Mary and Tom
Coffey with her parents, sisters and grandparents.
Coffey went to the other side of the river giving us a good view of her jump.
One down, two to go - or 3 if you count Ann,
who hopes to also get a degree next winter.
The graduation occurred close to Mother's Day so the mothers (Ann, Mary and Matt's mom Cyndi) were treated by the rest of the family to a great brunch in Austin.  Later
in the day we went to downtown Austin for a ride on an open-air tour boat on Lady Bird Lake.  The tour guide gave us a humorous tour of the downtown history, highlights
and skyline and then right at sunset the boat parked under the Congress Avenue Bridge where we waited for the mass flight of 1.5 million Mexican Free-tail bats.  The
crevices under the bridge are home to the world's largest urban colony of this species of bats and are said to eat 10,000 to 20,000 pounds of insects on each of their
nightly flights.  It was quite a sight to see them head out in search of their dinner.  It was impossible to take photos with our phone of black bats in the dark!  When we
returned to shore we headed to Austin's infamous "Dirty 6th" - the area of many pubs, bars, restaurants and home to much of Austin's "weird" and loud nightlife.  Being a
Sunday night, it was a fairly quiet evening but still a very "interesting" walk for us old folks.  Our destination was "Voodoo Doughnuts" to purchase some breakfast treats
for the next day.  Voodoo Doughnuts was started in Portland, OR and has locations in about 8 other large cities.  Their extensive "menu" has some pretty weird
choices...treats with odd names and  frosted with things like various cereals, cookies, candies, bacon, fruits...you name it.  (You can look them up online.)  We enjoyed our
picks as we headed back to Arizona the following morning.
Another tasty meal was enjoyed by all.
The Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, TX
Downtown Austin skyline from Lady Bird Lake
mural in Vodoo Doughnuts, Austin
A few choices at Voodoo
Moms on stage at Voodoo Doughnuts
"Back at the Ranch" we were back to our now normal summer routine....golf in the early morning...laundry, sewing, card games, TV movies, errands, occasional happy hours
in the afternoon... golf car rides, bingo and card games in the evenings.   Before we knew it, we'd come to the end of the month.  Our usual "Tuesday Tapas" happy hour
group decided to skip the gathering on May 29 and instead have a full-blown pot-luck on Memorial Day.  A little over 100 people came together to show some respect for the
holiday and try to pick from lots of delicious food choices.  Our resident DJs, Stonewall and MaggieMay provided some music and got some Karaoke action going.  Lots of
fun!
The long line was worth the wait for all the choices
at the Memorial Day meal.
Okay....let's sing along with the words as they come up on the screen.
This flag was at Voodoo Doughnuts in Austin.  We honor those who
gave their lives for our freedoms!
In spite of 100* days we are enjoying a little bit of
nature...cactus blooms and an occasional roadrunner.
There's more summer to come, so stay tuned!
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