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Texas, United States


Exploring Texas History...

...Taking Photos Is Always Fun For Me!

Last week my son from New Hampshire was working in Texas and planned to spend  Saturday with me and asked what I would like to do. He is a professional photographer who loves to photograph history and said he would like to go downtown and visit the Alamo again, it had been a while since he had. I suggested we also visit the other four historical Spanish Missions since he said he never had taken that tour. I have several times and I knew he would get some great shots because of the unique architecture of each of the Spanish Mission compounds. We spent a perfect day with perfect skies for photography.

Below are some of the 153 shots I took starting with the Alamo, then Missions Conception, San Jose, San Juan, and Espada. They are in a row heading out from the Alamo a couple of miles apart along the San Antonio River. I had written a blog about them earlier using other's photographs. These are mine beginning with the beautifully landscaped memorial gardens behind the Alamo that incorporates both tropical and desert plants suitable for our climate and magnificent old trees that also grow well in our area.



Papayas were abundant...the squirrels eat them. 
Weapons of a bygone era 
This live oak tree was approximately 40 years old when a man who was trying to prove older trees could be successfully transplanted hauled it here in a wagon drawn by four mules in 1912.
It  now measures 15 feet in circumference at the base and has some limbs over 50 foot long. 
 I do love that old oak tree that beat the odds.
The marble monument listing all the men who died defending the Alamo in 1836.
It is placed on the site where their bodies were piled and burned on Santa Ana's orders. 
Mission Conception 

Mission San Jose 
All five Missions originally had a huge area enclosed by tall stone walls to
protect those who lived and worked there from renegade raids. Some have crumbled
down but some portions are still preserved. This
part of San Jose's wall has quite a few small rooms. I'm not sure
if those were living quarters or work shops. These forts included stockades for animals,
water wells, and other food sources were grown within the walls.
 The Spanish Missionary settlements were totally self sufficient. 
 The church was the focal point of each fortified compound.
Mission San Juan Capistrano 
Mission San Juan is very narrow. 
Mission Espada
 A few Franciscan Monks still reside at Espada. We met one who is a glass artist and fires his art on site.The colors he blends and shapes are fabulous.

 These four Missions still hold church services.
They were built in the first half of the 1700's.


Burrowing Tummy Bugs Can Cause You Misery!...

...and the H.Pylori bacteria is BAD!
About fifteen years ago I began having digestive problems and was diagnosed with acid reflux. I was prescribed the usual treatment, the "purple pill" and antacids to ease the symptoms. I raised the head of my bed on blocks and tried to avoid the foods and beverages that aggravate it and giving up caffeinated coffee and spices was not all that easy. I would when it really bothered me but as the discomfort declined, I would slip back nto my old habits of eating and drinking what I loved. I was determined that just because I was getting "older" I wasn't going to give up ALL the good stuff. I don't "give up" easy.

Eventually it got to where the pills and diet were not helping and my doctor decided to do a H-Pylori blood test which turned out positive. At that time, I had no idea there was a bacteria that could live in stomach acid and burrow it's way into the lining and cause peptic ulcers and inflammation which caused painful serious symptoms that can cause acid reflux.

"Research shows that H pylori is likely present in over 50/75% of the worlds population  (I found various estimates but all were high.) They could mean that approximately 3 out of every 4 people are infected. When you consider this you can see there is a good chance you may be infected, especially if you have the symptoms of a stomach ulcer or acid reflux...though some have no noticeable symptoms. I wasn't that lucky.

Also when you consider that nearly 90% of people with stomach ulcer symptoms are infected with this bacterium, as are 50% of new patients with stomach cancer, then we recommend you get a proper diagnosis to be on the safe side."

 When I was first diagnosed with H pylori they gave me the standard treatment which included several high powered antibiotics over a couple of weeks. The symptoms cleared up until a couple of years ago when I began to have them again. I went back on the acid reflux regimen and it worked alright off and on until a couple of months ago when the distress began getting severe again and I finally asked my doctor last week to do the H pylori blood test. It came back with a very high positive count of H pylori antibody's in my blood which indicated, the doctor said, either I was infected again or had once been, so I would have to have a breath test to make sure they were live and active in my stomach and warranted treatment again.

 I didn't need much more proof but breathed into the bags they provided. Then I went home and read about the breathing test online, (the thing doctors dread most you doing) and found you were not supposed to have eaten or drank anything for six hours prior to the test, or taken any Pepto Bismol for the last month, or any "purple pills" or other antacids for the past two weeks or the test could be inaccurate and skewed. So I worried some more. I had downed a whole big bottle of Pepto the past few weeks and was taking two Nexium a day plus a Pepcid at night as my Gastroenterologist suggested years ago I do when symptoms were bad, plus Tums for heartburn during the day. I had eaten breakfast within the hour and was drinking coffee and water right up to being tested. I felt sure the breath test would come out false/negative because of it, but...I'll never know.

The doctors nurse finally called today to tell me the results...she said the bags were "deflated" and they weren't supposed to be...that I needed to come in and do the test again. I asked her how they got deflated but she didn't know. I still don't know if I'm believing that story. Really?

 Sometimes I don't know which is more stressful...dealing with the bugs... or the doctors!

Just thought I would let you know if you are diagnosed with acid reflux or peptic ulcers, also ask them to do the H-pylori test and ask for a follow up if you do have treatment for it to make sure all the bugs are eliminated. It could save you a heap of misery over the long run.

"Although the optimal H. pylori treatment regimen continues to be investigated, the American College of Gastroenterology has recommended four specific drug regimens that use a combination of at least three medications. These regimens successfully cure infection in up to 90 percent of people. For the H. pylori treatment to be effective, it is important to take the entire course of all medications."

I had taken all the prescriptions the last time I was diagnosed but  NO one told me I should have a follow up after the treatment and I didn't have the Internet to double check the doctors back then... Darn it!


A NYC Taxi Driver Wrote...:

"I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.

'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.'

'Oh, you're such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'

'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.

'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice...'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

 We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'. We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

'How much do I owe you?' she asked, reaching into her purse.

'Nothing,' I said.

'You have to make a living,' she answered.

'There are other passengers,' I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.'

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments.

But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one."



Bomb Syria?...Don't Bomb Syria?

Who knows the correct answer?

I watched the Congressional panel yesterday discussing the pros and cons of President Obama ordering an intervention in the Civil War in Syria and I'm just as torn as most of America as to whether it is the right or wrong thing to do.

Secretary of State, John Kerry, painted a compelling picture of why we have to intervene...a couple of others also had gripping opinions of what could go wrong if we do.

God knows we are war weary after Iraq and Afghanistan and are dead set against putting any more "boots on the ground"  in the Middle East, but...should we aim a few missiles at Assad's military installations to prove to him America and it's Allies will not permit the use of chemical warfare for any accepted Universal Law states?

Will our intervention help or hurt those innocent folks in Syria who just want peace, as we all do who value life? No one knows and can answer that question until after the fact.

All we can do at this point is hope and pray whatever decision is made in the White House, it will eventually bring about stability in Syria at some point.

As I sit here mulling this over, as I have quite a few wars and conflicts for way over half a century, I find myself wishing" Intelligence" could simply pinpoint where Assad will sleep tonight and send him an ultimatum...attached to  a Cruise missile, so no one else has to die for his tyrannical cause.