This month we started in Harlingen, Texas at Way of the Cross (WOTC), a former SOWER project that can still use help. Juanita helps with the food bank. I work on physical stuff that helps the place work or has been donated and needs some TLC to be saleable to help support the ministry. On the 24th we went to Nicaragua for three weeks to play tourist there. We saw a few friends from when Nicaragua was a regular part of our annual migrations. We visited some of our favorite spots.
Towards the end of last month I read a borrowed copy of “Swedish Death Cleaning”. It talks about dealing with the why’s and how’s of dealing with clutter and not leaving your mess for your heirs to clean up. A highly theoretical read when living in a borrowed motor home thousands of miles away from your stuff. Like reading books on ocean sailing while on the prairies. I recommend you read the book yourself. Three takeaway’s: Start with clothes; Do the big stuff before the small stuff; Do photos and letters last.
We received notification of our Costco gift certificate for purchases made last year with our CIBC Costco MasterCard. I may have mentioned the grueling five-month application process that completed in March last year. The gift certificate is for hundreds of dollars. That is to be expected if you use the card towards a car and a South American tour etc. CIBC is like Obama’s description of Joe Biden. You can trust them to mess things up. If their literature is to be believed you can only use the certificate once. If you spend less than the full amount what happens with the excess is a bit of a gray area. It will be fine. I hope. I trust Costco more than CIBC. I’ll let you know the outcome in April when we go to use the gift certificate.
January 1 - 6
The year started on Monday. New Year’s Eve was on Sunday.
Seems like only yesterday.
Church was in the morning.
Catching up on my steps in the afternoon I walked around Home Depot a bit. In my walk I noticed $6.97 for a bundle of split firewood about 15” long and less than a foot square in cross section. Less than one and a quarter cubic feet. Over $US 700 a cord! Makes me happy our woodshed is filled with windfalls that I cut and Juanita splits. Cost a bit of chainsaw gas, bar oil and some electricity for the splitter.
New Year’s Eve celebration kicked off with the annual chili cook-off. This is the second year in a row we haven’t entered a pot of chili. I was one of the judges. Something for everyone’s tastes, but we all agreed on first place.
After the potluck dinner it was dark enough for fireworks. When those were done, we walked home. I finished reading Lawrence Block’s “The Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep” then fell asleep to the sound of fireworks on the neighbouring properties.
New Year’s Day was a day off.
A friend sent me a picture of an old Lang sign.
Finished reading Lawrence Block’s “Deadly Honeymoon”.
On Tuesday we were back to helping at the warehouse and food bank. I carried on sheeting the walls and floors of the SWA truck. In the evening I finished reading “Killing Castro” by Lawrence Block.
Wednesday was more of the same. I handed out curved illusion tracts to cars waiting for the drive-thru food bank. Juanita helped in the food bank. I got two-thirds of the floor and all but the last two feet on the walls at the back sheeted in the SWA truck.
Thursday was a good start on replacing rotten floor joists in the back corner of the SWA truck and a good finish to reading “Blackbeard – The Birth of America”. I had wandered away from this quasi historical read to a few less demanding books.
On Friday I finished putting down the plywood floor sheets. Remaining work is to go back and put more screws in the wall sheets and the last two floor sheets and more work on the cupolas. We ended up with a couple of cocoa pods which we pulled apart for a look and a bit of a taste. There’s a lot of work to take a cocoa pod to chocolate. Our neighbour started on the process. We opted out.
We wrapped up the week with a walk on the beach.
January 7 - 13
After church on Sunday we headed up valley to the Don Wes flea market, The purse we bought in Argentina needed some reinforcement on the strap ends. We left it with a leather worker for pickup next Sunday. While there I handed out a few curved illusion tracts before we went to Costco in Pharr to get in the daily 10k steps. As we travelled we listened to “The Fix” audiobook by David Baldacci.
This week I bought tax software for doing our income taxes come April. At the ministry Juanita helped with the drive through food banks and the pastor giveaways. In addition to puttering at the SWA truck, I worked on adding quick connects to the old Miller welding machine and added a cable hanger for the welding cables. I helped Byron troubleshoot the glow plug controller on a donated truck. No obvious problems. To be continued. While we were at the training center we replaced a leaking water line.
January 14 - 20
Cold is coming during the week. Cold below freezing. We took advantage of the “last day of summer” (for a while, lol) for a walk on the beach. On the first night of the big freeze (-2C!) the director advised everyone to leave a tap on a trickle. We did. Everyone else but the director did, as well. His frozen waterline only took five minutes to thaw with his wife’s hair drier. Fortunately, no burst line.
Byron, Ben and I did some group research on the glow plug problem on the donated truck and ordered some OEM glow plugs. Online forums insist only Motorcraft ZD9’s work on Ford 7.3L IDI diesels and describe the clicking problems we are observing with the controller.
The truck is being picked up next week by the new owner. In anticipation that the new glow plugs won’t get here in time or don’t do the job we added a switch on the dash that manually operates the glow plugs. We also changed the ignition switch. Strangely, that fixed the problems with the turn signals not working when the engine was running. Ben has obviously seen that problem before.
Speaking of turn signals I installed new turn signal housings on the motor home. They look great. It’s like cleaning the corner of a ceiling. It highlights the need for more cleaning. The headlights could do with a polish and the body work around the indicators.
On Thursday, Byron, Stephen and I took an old X-ray machine out of a chiropractor’s office. Sounds simple if you say it quickly. It was a huge job. It lasted until dark. We parked the full trailer at the warehouse.
I had started a new read the Bible plan in one year on January first. I finished last year’s on January 20. This is the second time through in two years. I’m working on the third in a row with this year’s.
The end of the week started my birthday weekend. We celebrated with a trip to Texas Roadhouse on Friday and Denny’s on Saturday.
Packing continued for our trip to Nicaragua on the 24th.
January 21 - 27
After church on Sunday we carried on birthday celebrations with a buffet lunch at Lin’s in Brownsville. Monday we worked around the warehouse and started late so the gate was open for the post office to deliver the glow plugs. Tuesday morning I installed them. ZD29 are the updated version of Motorcraft ZD9 glow plugs. The glow plug controller sees the right resistance. The “Wait to Start Engine” light comes on on the dash until the plugs have preheated the chambers. The light goes out. You can start the engine. No more clicking. Believe the online forums when they insist only Motorcraft OEM glow plugs work on Ford 7.3L IDI diesels.
Wednesday morning Danny drove us early to the Harlingen airport where we showed out passports to the United counter and got our boarding passes and headed through security to the gate. I chatted to the gate agent about the short change in Houston and asked if our bags would be gate checked. Nope. This model of Embraer is big enough to have overhead bins. I gave her a curved illusion tract. When we boarded, we discovered she had upgraded us to first class. Way more comfortable. Treated better by the cabin crew and off the plane quicker.
We walked and trained the full length of IAH to arrive at the already boarding flight to Managua. A quick pitstop and we joined the throng. We were back to steerage to enjoy a quiet flight. I succumbed to buying a $13 sandwich. United can’t remember out passports from one flight to the next, but they remember my registered credit card. Priorities.
A friend met us at the airport and took us to stay with other friends. Our favorite hotel in Granada is still closed. They hope to re-open during Semana Santa (Easter week) this year.
On Thursday we wandered around Granada a bit. We visited with Roger, my old language tutor. His business is almost non-existent except for a bit of on-line stuff these days. He has some health issues and lacks the energy to deal with staff issues. Not to mention the scarcity of tourists post Covid. We chatted with a few others but failed to find our favorite money changer before or after lunch at Cafetin Claudia. Hugs all around there, of course. We told them we probably wouldn’t get back to eat there this trip. We planned to meet up with friends and do some travel together.
Friday we caught a cab to Hotel Paradiso on the Laguna Apoyo a lake in a, hopefully extinct, volcano caldera. We sat around, read, ate and visited with other travellers enjoying the economical meals and view of the water. We spent a lot of time visiting with Jesse, from near Edmonton. We had both worked for the same employer years ago. We had not met before but knew a lot of the same people. He has built a house here and hopes to eventually move here full time.
During the day I handed out a number of curved illusion tracts. In the past the clientele was over half Americans and about twenty percent Central Americans with Europeans and Canadians making up the balance. On this day it was about half Central Americans and then Canadians and Europeans. Didn’t meet one American among the clientele. We caught a bus and a torrito back to our digs.
We went to sleep expecting other friends to arrive overnight, but their plans changed. They aren’t coming to Nicaragua as planned. Instead, we had time to visit in Granada. We visited with Mr. Abdala, the owner of our favorite place to stay. He is sick and not doing well. He remembered us during out brief visit and seemed pleased we dropped by. We had time to go to Cafetin Claudia. They were surprised and pleased to see us.
January 28 -31
Sunday we went a Clown seminar at a Managua English-speaking church. The presenter had been a professional clown who used her magic tricks to share the Gospel.
Monday I helped friends with changing a sewer pump and some wiring for lights and an outlet. Tuesday I carried on with the wiring and replacing the receptacle powering the sewer pump. Wednesday Juanita had a bout with vertigo and had to lay down for a while. She felt a little punk most of the day.
During the day I helped another friend install some grey water piping to distribute washing machine water to some plants. We needed different screws and anchors than we had. We went to Sinsa and picked them out and a new drill bit. I left him to pay and walked across to La Colonia supermarket. I walked the whole store and picked and paid for three items and was to the door of the store when he arrived from just the paying process at Sinsa.
In the evening, I went to the store and got some meds and chewing gum for Juanita. She was fine by the morning.
Tomorrow is a new month. We plan to take a bus to Matagalpa, one of our happy places.