Monday, December 31, 2007

Well, we're back...

But for some reason I don't feel a huge desire to post anything, or even surf blogs. In a funk. Got away from bloggin' for 8 days and maybe it's gotten out of my system. I'm sure I'll get back to checkin' up on everyone soon, but don't hold it against me if it takes a week or so.

I had a great time meeting Denise's family, and felt kinda sad to leave that place and come home. Felt a lot like comin' home from that road trip last summer, after gettin' used to bein' away and havin' fun with the folks I got to hang with. Now I'm back here at the house. The cats are happy, and Denise and I are doin' laundry and cleanin' up the mess that's left over from 2007.

I took about 450 pictures and a few little videos, and eventually I'll get around to working on them, but right now I'm just not motivated. There's more house cleanin' to do, online classes to work on, and a new mini term startin' on the 3rd.

You guys have a great new years, and maybe I'll be out of this funk in a few. In the meantime, here's a little taste of things to come.

video

Took a short little snippet of video, no sound, of two of the dogs playin' in the back yard of the farm house on about the second or third day. The snow that had been on the ground when we got there had just about disappeared (it was in the upper 40s) and the dogs were havin' a good time. They provided us with endless amusement. So, have a great new year, and I'll see ya later.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Here's hopin' all of you have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!

First, check this out. I got two wrong. Shocked the hell out of me. Pure luck.

Anyway, I'm flyin' to Milwaukee with Denise to visit her family for the holidays today. We're leavin' the house for the trip to D/FW airport right now. Gonna see some real snow and toss her brother around some more. We hit it off really well when they visited here just after Denise and I started goin' out. Don't know if I'll have the chance to post anything from there, so this may be it till I get back on the 29th. Anyway, so as not to leave anyone out...

For my liberal friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes. By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

And for my conservative, right wing, gun nut, meat eating friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

And to anyone who lacks a sense of humor, as so many seem to do these days, you might want to click on this...



Seriously, if anything happens along the way, know that I love all y'all to death. You've all enriched my life in uncountable ways in the last year and a half. So here's hopin' you all have a wonderful time and we get to keep havin' it for a long time to come. Cheers.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Since we're flyin' out Friday in the middle of the afternoon...

I'll be takin' dad to eat Friday night Chinese food tonight. It'll give dad his regular night out and me a chance to go over and hand them a few presents. I'll also get my pressin's from the drive-through laundry in Temple before we head out of town for D/FW airport and out trip to Wisconsin Friday afternoon.

The week has been hectic. Gave Finals in Florence and finished up the grades for the 5 classes I had on Ft. Hood. Also finished up an online class and posted those grades. It all was finished in a marathon cession Tuesday night on the computer. All this while we're tryin' to get ready to go to Wisconsin, buy and wrap presents, and then there's the annual Christmas feed at work today. I have a gumbo cookin' for that in the crock pot as we speak, while I write Christmas cards and get ready to get my hair cut at 9:30. Busy, busy.

The traffic here this time of year is nuts, and it doesn't help to have several roads under construction right off the main highway through town. I swear, we've got the worst urban planning in this town anyone has ever seen. None of the exit or on ramps are where they should be, and so now they're all having to be redone. Chaos. I went to Dillard's today to get Denise a prezzy and had to sit in traffic for a half hour just to get off the damn mall parking lot and over to the other side of the highway to the house. Makes me want to go postal. Oh, don't even let's talk about goin' to the post office yesterday. Jesus H.

We met a friend from work for dinner at Boston's last night. I was expecting have to explain to yet another person why it was that I stayed to myself so long, and why it was Denise who nabbed me. I'm about to start tellin' folks to kiss my ass and mind their own business. Anyway, happily, it never came up. This person did give Denise hell though for wearin' the Packers sweatshirt to the game Sunday. We had a great time, and then Denise and I made a trip to Wal Mart and then came back here and I wrapped a few more presents.

I'm off from work now till the 3rd, when my Mini-term begins. Both classes have made, so I'll be busy with that for three weeks in January before the regular term begins. Also even though one online class just ended, truth is that online classes never really end, so I still have to check email regularly while were in Wisconsin.

Well, I'm off. Gotta go to Salado and get sheared. Need to get me one of those Flowbee things like I think Mushy's got and just adopt the Gulag look. Think that would work for me? Later. Cheers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Tryin' to get caught up with you guys now that school is mostly over...

I surfed through Phlemmy's site and wandered into somethin'. She posted a thing with Rita Moreno, and when it ended I surfed through the other clips and found this one.



Damn, I forgot how cool that guy was. Buddy Rich. Used to see him on the Tonight show ever so often. Nice noise. That got me thinkin' about good drummers, and that led me to this...



Ginger Baker... Maybe the greatest drummer and band ever in modern music? Oh, wait a minute...



Damn, see how my mind works? I know, there are others. Too many to choose from. Just crank the speakers and drift off into something like bliss, and just thank God you grew up when this stuff was around. Damn, I'm gonna have to watch that second one again. Bliss.

OK, now bear with me. Here's some different drumming. This is purely tribal. We're talkin' about deeply embedded genetic memories here. This'll make you want to strip, paint yourself blue with Woad and swing a battle ax into something, or someone. Dig it.



Well, that's how it effects me anyway. Of course, no one needs to see that.

Maybe that's why all these drummers have had such an effect on us. They tap into some ancient tribal beat that's wrapped up in our DNA. Anyway, I love it. To each his own. I'm out. Peace.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Well, that sucked!

I mean, the night in the hotel was fun, and bein' at the game was cool, but I just wish the fuckin' Cowboys had showed up to play. The people that came out in Cowboy uniforms Sunday may well have been bussed in from the loony bin. I kid you not, it was the worst the team has played since 2004 (last time they went without a touchdown) and the worst they played all year. They saved it all up for me. God bless them.

And what made it all super extra special... The woman who purports to love me was actively rooting for the enemy. You see, Denise is a Packers fan.



She spent most of her formative years wedded to a joker from Wisconsin, and has yet to see the error of her ways. Oh, she ditched to guy, but she still roots for his friggin' team. We watched the packers beat St. Louis on the big monitors in the stadium before kickoff, and then she rooted for the Eagles, hoping they'd knock Dallas down a rung and make things easier for Green Bay. Eagles fans in the Stadium kept noticing her Packers sweatshirt and sayin' they wanted to do the Packers a favor. She even bumped into one other guy wearing a Packers jersey at the bar, while she was getting me a beer. Yep, she kept me well supplied with booze, and she even paid for the tickets, so what do I have to complain about, right?



Well, I paid for the room at the Hyatt Saturday night. I love this place. It's beautiful inside. The room was nice. King sized bed and all the amenities. We brought our own bottle of wine and had a good old time. Woke up Sunday morning and decided to go down and partake of the breakfast buffet there in the hotel. Food was cold and greasy, so we won't do that again.



There were lots of folks there at the hotel who were in for the game, and we ended up sitting next to a family who'd flown in from Philly. They were puzzled to find Denise, a Brit, living in Texas and rooting for the Packers. See, I'm not the only one who thinks she's weird.



Even though we got there way early, we still had to park somewhere on the outskirts of Houston and ride a shuttle in to the stadium. The walk back to the car after the game was ridiculous. I was warned about this by the guys we got the tickets from, so we didn't act too shocked when it happened. Goes with the territory.



This strawberry daiquiri and my first beer of the day cost most of twenty dollars! I'd also been warned about that, so we both had a lot of cash on hand.



This was Denise's first professional football game. I took her in to see the field before we went upstairs to find our seats. She was so excited, it was a huge blast for me to take her and show her around. The last game I saw here was in about 1982 (Dallas lost to the Redskins), and the last time I was in the stadium was in about six or eight years later when I saw Pink Floyd there a few times.



Our seats were great. Section 120, up high, with an unobstructed view of the action. The only thing wrong with the seats was the hole in the roof that let the sun in to blind us for about the first half of the game.



I mean, the warmth it provided was welcomed (temps in the 50s - in the 30s when the sun went down), but the glare obstructed the view of the field and made it very hard for me to see the screen on the back of my camera. This is a shot of the opening ceremonies by the way.



We got a bit of relief when the sun shifted behind this big speaker thingy hanging from the roof. Thing is, the game was not the spectacle one would wish to see when you've spent this kind of money and trudged all the way out there. There were no long bombs that hit their targets or spectacular catches by ether team. Just a defensive slug fest where both teams are shut down and unable to make much headway. I turned out that the Eagles Defense was a bit better that Sunday, and the Cowboys were unable to make the points to win.



It was fun to watch the 'boys try to move it down the field, but with one "3-and-out" after another, by both teams, the frustration began to build.



McNabb is just about to be sacked in this picture. THAT was fun to watch, but they paid Dallas back by sackin' Romo about three times.



This over hyped, over payed dufus didn't complete a single pass to a wide receiver in the first half, and threw three interceptions Sunday. By the end of the game I heard some fans reviving that old thing about "Romo the homo" from last year. It wasn't pretty. Turns out he hit his hand on a helmet in the third quarter and messed up a finger, and they didn't take him out. What the hell was Wade Phillips thinking?



Of course, it wasn't all dreary. The cheerleaders came out at the end of every quarter to perk up our... spirits. Some things never change. God bless them.



The most frustrating thing about the game was the way it ended, with the Eagle player running in towards to goal and then sitting down in front of it, and then having them take one knee after another to run the clock down. I mean, it was brilliant, but I wanted to beat someone I was so pissed. Seemed like a chicken shit way to win at the time. Go ahead and get the touchdown and then let Dallas try to get a touchdown and a field goal in the last two minutes. In stead, he took a knee, over and over, eating up the time. If one of those loud, drunk Eagles fans had nudged me a little harder on the walk down the ramp after the game I might'a ended up in jail. That would'a capped the night off.

It turned out in the end that Dallas just didn't have what it was gonna take to beat the Eagles. It was their day to lose. It's just too bad it was the same day I chose to show up to watch. What are ya gonna go? Denise had a wonderful time. I was happy for her... OK, that's a lie. It was all I could do to bring myself to speak to her for about twenty minutes as we walked back to the car.

We drove to Ft. Worth and had dinner at Pappasito's, all the familiar stuff you've seen before, and more booze, and then we drove home two-and-a-half hours to my place. You know, I'll get over it, but I have to admit I'm in a quandary. OK guys, you tell me.

I've been a Cowboy fan all my life. Even when we lived in friggin' Missouri in the early '70s when the Chiefs were winning games, I walked around in a Dallas Cowboys t-shirt and took the shit. I gave it back the next year when the Cowboys won the big one. All my life there have been a few teams that I have HATED because of the shit they've managed to give the Cowboy's at the right time of the season, one year or the other. They are basically imps of Satan, these teams, and they have regularly caused Gods team to suffer horrible vexations. OK, I can deal with that. It's cool. But the woman who purports to love me insists on rooting for ALL of these teams right in front of me. She does it in my house! The first time I realized this it was the Giants she was pulling for, while sitting on my couch. I was like, "Get the fuck out of my house! You can't root for them in here!" Then she flashed those blue eyes at me and my resolve melted. Satan, I tell you, is in this woman. An exorcism may well be in order. I could do one. I've seen the movie.

Anyway, it sucked, but it's just a game, and there'll be another one in a week or so. If I can live through all the other heart breaking losses I've witnessed in the last 40 years I can learn to live with this one. It was a lot of fun to be there, even with the way the game went. It was fun to take Denise to her first game, but I'll have to think hard about ever goin' to another one.

Oh, I have all these shots and many others on FlickR , so you'll be able to click on it and check them out.

Well, I hope you guys had a good weekend, and all your teams won... OK, that's a lie too. Anyway, see ya later. Cheers.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday night was a good time.

I think dad's getting a little tired of the camera, do you think?



He's in mid protest here. I was gigglin' like a fool. I guess I could be more surreptitious, but this camera takes better pictures with the flash on.



Denise is still very difficult to photograph. The witness protection program has rules about that, apparently.



Same shit, different day. Good stuff. It was dry and a bit bland for a few weeks there, but they must have got themselves a new cook, or slapped around the old one, because it's wonderful now. Look at the size of those shrimp. Mmmm, Mmmm, Mmmm.



After dinner we took dad home and mom broke out the Bailey's again. We had a little tipple and they told Denise a few stories about old times. I asked mom where she got these beautiful little glasses and she said they were picked up on their first tour of duty in England, back in the mid-'50s. A few have been broken in all the moves since then, but these were still in tact. Nice stuff. There are treasures from all over the world in that house.



Mom's mind is still clear as a bell, so she did most of the talking, and then dad would grunt his agreement from time to time. They make a good team, the two of them. Christmas will be their 57th wedding anniversary. Amazing to me that they've made it this long, and they're still goin' strong.



She got wistful at times, thinking of all the different places and people they'd known. We all needed a refill in time, and the bottle was in danger of being emptied. We'll just have to replace it for the next time we get together. I'll get her a few so she has a stockpile. Can't have too much of the stuff.



So, You know were goin' to the game Sunday. We have a room at the Hyatt in Dallas for tonight, and detailed instructions from Dave (Chili cookout guy - the season ticket holder we got these tickets from) on how to get to the best parking place and back out again, avoiding all the crowd and crap on Sunday. It should be a fun time. I'll take lots of pictures, so let's hope the Cowboys show up ready to play. The weather looks like it's gonna be nice for the game, in the '50s, so the drive up late tonight shouldn't be trouble. We're going to a party tonight before we head north, so we'll be on the road late.

Well, you guys have a great weekend, and I'll see ya on the other end. Cheers.

Every cat owner out there can relate to this.

We're just lucky they don't have thumbs.

video

Friday, December 14, 2007

Friday feed is on... Again.

But first, some other stuff. You remember I'm in a pool league? We play pool every Wednesday night. I suck usually, but I guess I'm getting better. I used to loose all the time but lately it only about half the time. Anyway, I look at it like this. It's an evening out and an chance to drink beer and smoke cigars with some fun folks, so who gives a fuck if I win? Of course, if I start winnin' more often... I'm gonna be a HUGE asshole about it. Well, I dunno. We'll see.



I mean, I WANT to win, but I've decided to put my mind at ease with it and try to remember that old sayin'... It's really about how you play the game. I try to have fun and be a gentleman, and as I've relaxed things seem to be improving. Probably a life lesson in there somewhere.

Anyway, the other thing has to do with all those left over cigar stubs we all accumulate. Friggin' things cost enough that I practically need a roach to finish smokin' 'em. So I've decided to try an experiment. I have a pipe-tomahawk on the book stand in the living room (I posted a picture of it a while back). I'm cutting up all the little nubs and puttin' 'em in a zip lock with a sponge, and I'm gonna see if I can smoke this stuff in that hatchet. Click on these to check this stuff out up close.



I'll figure somethin' out. Should be an interesting blend of flavors, with all the Mac's and Ashton's I've been buyin' cheap, mixed with a few even cheaper and robust Taino's and others. If the tomahawk doesn't work I'll get a new stem for my Calumet (peace pipe). Did I ever show you a shot of that thing? Made it a while back. Anyway, I'll tell ya if it works out.

While I was out in the garage at the work bench I decided to take a few shots to post. More random stuff, like Bruno posts. Of course, my stuff isn't as cool as his friggin' blast furnace in his shop, or whatever, but it's me.



Lots of crap I picked up and won't throw away. It all means something to me.



For instance, this picture was cut out of an old calender from a few years ago. Love it. It's called Mothers Under The Skin, by Charles M. Russel, drawn (pen and ink) in 1900. That quote is the one my Jean Giraudoux that I have posted on the right side of the margin of the blog. I found it in a book by P. J. O'Rourke a long time ago and fell in love with it. The western art is another love of mine. I'll post more pics of some of the stuff I've collected some other day.



Here's another shot of the work bench, cluttered with crap, as usual. You can see knife projects (materials for handles, like the mule deer antler), and pecans that someone gave me a while back, and my dad's old putter. I need to replace the handle on it. He showed me how to do that a long time ago. Easy peasy.

So, Denise is comin' over in a bit and we'll head to Temple and get dad for the big feed. You guys take care and I'll see ya later. Cheers.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Freak of the week.

You want a Turkish Angora cat that glows in the dark? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you this.



Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Made another trip to Fredericksburg last Saturday.

The little woman wanted to do some Christmas shopping and I wanted to check out another brewery/restaurant there on the main drag. First off though, lets talk about last Friday for a sec.


I left here to go get dad early on Friday so I could make a stop down in Salado along the way and check out the selection at a nice little cigar store there. I know, I just got a shipment of fat little torpedoes in the mail, but who's countin'? Variety is the spice of life, right? The thing about goin' to the store is you can buy one of this and one of that, and try out things before you go online and buy in bulk. I ended up blowin' about $70 (about $7.50 a piece averaged out - some were more expensive than others). OK, so it's kind of pricey to experiment like this, but what the hall? It's only money. Here's what I got.


From left to right, you're lookin' at an A.V.O. maduro, a Carlos Turano Vertuoso, a La Gloria Cubana maduro, a Rocky Patel Sun Grown, a Hoya De Monterrey Excalibur, another Rocky Patel (this time with a Connecticut wrapper), a Punch Gran Puro, and a few little A Fuente Gran Reservas. They threw in a free cutter with all of these, even though I told them I didn't need it. So guess what. The first time I tried to use the cheap piece of crap it broke on me. Didn't even make one cut successfully.

I smoked one of the little nippers on the far right while Denise made her way from one little shop to another on Saturday. It was a good one, with a nice strong but smooth flavor. I'll have to look for those when the specials come out.

Anyway, now's the time you might want to go get that plastic sheeting so you don't slobber all over your keyboard. I'm gonna show ya pictures of food again.

We set off at about 10:30 AM and got to Fredericksburg in a few hours. It was expected to be warm, so I dressed accordingly; short sleeves and wide brimmed hat to keep the sun off. Sure enough, it got to be about 81 as we strolled the sidewalks and did our shopping.



The first thing we did was to head to the Brewhouse. I'd walked past this place a number of times, and seeing the brewing vats through the front window always intrigued me.



Turns out it's a brewery that goes back a long time, and is very popular hereabouts. They produce their own versions of several brews, and I tried three of them. We took a number and went back to the biergarten to drink and check out the menu while we waited for our number to come up. Denise was amazed to find a Scotch Egg on the appetizer list. Apparently these are BIG over in her neck of the woods. It's a hard boiled egg that's been rolled in sausage, breaded, and then deep fried. I'd never heard of it, but it sounded good so we ordered it.


It came on a bed of coleslaw, with spicy mustard to dip it in and a few plates for us to use to share all this goodness. I was a little put off by the fact that they only gave us one egg, but it turned out to be a perfect starter. Not too filling and really tasting good. I cut it in half and we split it. It amounted to about two or three bites a piece. Denise said the sausage was spicier than what you'd get in England, but then I reminded her where she was. We live for the mouth burn here in Texas. Stuff doesn't feel right if it doesn't make your head sweat. Tejano influence I guess.


I avoided the German fare, but Denise jumped at the Jagerschnitzel. She said it was excellent. I had a bite and loved it. Her mashed potatoes were good too. Before I could offer her one she was stabbin' at one of my onion rings. I had to give her a talk.


I went for the 1/2 pound burger (big shock), with cheese and bacon added, and the aforementioned, partially purloined onion rings.



Don't it look purdy? Tasty too, and the onion rings were excellent.



Along with lunch we drank a few of their local brews. I started out in the biergarten with an Enchanted Rock Red Ale, and then switched to the Peace Pipe Pale Ale (above) with my meal. Denise had a Not So Dumb Blond Ale (I swear to God) and ended up mixin' it with Sprite. She's just got a huge jones for those shandy things. I take a swig and all I can taste is the syrup from the soda. What the fuck is the point? To each their own.

I liked the place a lot. We both did. nice atmosphere and good vittles. It was all good, but I'm not sure it was as good as the foreign beer and burger at the Auslander. I know I was missin' those fried shrooms. Oh well, I want to try everything down there, so we can't have that stuff every time we come. After all I have a reading public to take care of. It's a huge burden, but I'll rise to the challenge.

We walked around for a few hours after that meal and did some shoppin'. Among other things we got an Ice cram cone, a few more bottles of locally made and bottled Muscat Canelli wine, and another big bag of pecans (this years crop). By 4:30 PM I was done. We needed to head back so we could make it to a party at the home of a friend of hers from work.

The party was OK, but forgettable. Nether of us really knew anyone there, but she seemed to be enjoying herself, so I grazed at the snack table for a bit and then disappeared. Hell, I know I'd be better off if I mingled and introduced myself, but a life on the outside of the social scene leaves one with certain well honed instincts. That wasn't my crowd, and I'd rather just go out on the patio with a brew and smoke another cigar anyway. Gives me a chance to sit back and watch everyone. When I saw Denise looking for me I knew it was time and we hit the road. There was much more fun to be had at my place anyway. We'd picked up a bottle of Spatlese at a store in Fredericksburg, and it was chillin' in the fridge.

Well, the rest is history, as is this post. You try not to slobber all over the keyboard lookin' at those food and beer pictures, and we'll do this again soon. Cheers.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

You ever use the glasses in your hotel room?

You know, the handy little ones there in the bathroom, wrapped in plastic. Watch this and be afraid. Be very afraid.



I guess I'll need to start takin' my own plastic cups on the road now, or just start swiggin' from the bottle. Jesus!

Oh, and David wants to know if I've ever cussed at a computer. Like every day dude. Well, maybe not every day, but I wouldn't put money on it. I find it cathartic. At least I don't actually hit the thing.

OK, maybe once or twice, but never when I'm drinking. I know, but the damn thing was askin' for it! I swear to God! I was provoked!

Monday, December 10, 2007

As long as I can remember, there's been something special about English blondes.

Petula Clark was very popular when I lived in England in the mid-to-late 1960s. I had a bunch of here 45s.



I tried to turn some folks on to her when we moved back to the states in 1970, but they were unimpressed. I couldn't believe it. Their little minds were already closed. They were into the Jackson Five, or the Osmonds, or the Monkeys, and they didn't have a clue. I kept her records in the box, stacked neatly, as a special memory of those days of living in an exotic foreign place.

OK, she was great, but here's the Queen, and I don't mean Lizzie.



How can ya not love Dusty Springfield?



And while were here, enjoy.



That look, the big hair and heavy eyeliner, is so synonymous with the times, and that voice was just dripping sex, even to an eight or nine year old kid. Denise is doubting as I write this how much I knew about sex back at that age, but I wanna tell ya, the best thing about that house we lived in in England was the set of stairs in the sidewalk leading from the road to our house. I used to watch my mom's boobs jump up and down as she skipped down those stairs, thinking "Damn, mom's stacked".

Yer thinkin' I was a freak, but my generation grew up with Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida, not to mention all those cool Christopher Lee Dracula movies with all the buxom frauleins gettin' bitten all over the place. We used to look for naked mannequins in the store windows as the blue bus drove us through the little country towns on the way to school at the air base at Ruislip, and the whole bus would erupt when someone saw one.

We had a young cool bus driver at one time, and then suddenly he was transferred and we didn't see him for a while. Then, a few months later, we were passed by another bus from a private British girls school and guess who was driving it. We died laughin', and assumed that he'd gotten himself transferred on purpose. We knew about sex. We didn't have details, but we knew. We had to wait for details till someone found a stash of their dad's playboys somewhere and let us leaf through them.

The music from back then is some of the best music ever made. Can't imagine what the kids now are gonna be nostalgic about in thirty years. I shudder at the thought.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

It's Friday again, and I've got more shit to tell ya.

First of all, today is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, 66 years ago (he says, counting on his fingers - there's a reason I don't teach math). Wednesday night at the weekly pool game/booze-up/ceeegar fest, someone said that Wednesday had been the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition. I wasn't sure it was true, but we drank to it anyway.

That morning all those years ago, "Which will live in infamy", drew America fully into the Second World War, and changed my life. My dad says he walked right out when the news broke and wanted to join up, but his father talked him out of it. He eventually did join up mid way through 1942, after a stint in LA working in a defense plant building B-25s. He set out determined to become a pilot, having seen his first plane from the back of the family plow, and he eventually succeeded.



That's dad, center left, hand on cheek, out gettin' wide with his buds in Germany right after the war. You think they had a good time. I KNOW they did. The ladies LOVED those pilots wings. The guys didn't call them "leg spreaders" for nothin'.

He succeeded in everything he did, doing everything he dreamed of doing, including marrying a beautiful girl and having two children. In working for all of that he saved me from having to grow up picking cotton, and made it possible for me to become the guy I am today. You know, everything wasn't sweetness and light, but fuck all that. Pickin' cotton would have been worse than any stupid bullshit I had to deal with.

When I see him later today and we hit the buffet at Dynasty, I'll be sure and thank him again for that.

Now, for the really important shit...



I got a new box of cigars in the mail Wednesday. They're C.A.O. Gold Perfectos. A box of 10 6x60 torpedoes. Should be a good smoke. I've got a pretty good stash now, in a variety of brands, so when I'm drivin' to or from Florence (love the way the smoke drifts out through the sun roof), walkin' down the main street in Fredericksburg, or screwin' around in a pool hall on a Wednesday night, I can sample a different one and relax.

Oh, and I have two tickets to the Dallas/Philly game on the 16th. $65 a piece. Buddy of mine with season tickets gave 'em to me at cost. Denise and I'll get a room that Saturday night at the Hyatt and do it up right. Fuckin' Cowboys better win! Last time I went to a game was in the early '80s and they got beat by the Redskins. Aaaah, the Danny White era; The times that troubled men's souls.

Goin' to Fredericksburg this Saturday afternoon. Denise wants to Christmas shop and I want to try out another beergarten. I also want to pick up another bag of pecans. There's a party at a friend of hers here Saturday night, or we'd get a room and stay down in the hill country. There'll be another weekend for that.

Well, you guys take care and enjoy your weekend. I'll see ya later.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Home.

I was reading Mushy's recent post about his bittersweet homecoming from Vietnam, and it got me thinking about the nature of "home". He says in that post that upon returning home, he never wanted to leave it again, and for the most part he never has. I started to ask myself where my home is? I have a house and land now, and my folks have a house in Temple, but none of these places really feel like home to me.

I've lived in a lot of places in my life, being a service brat. You've all heard the story before. I lived in some of them longer than others, but none of those places were really home. I have very fond memories of many places, like the hills and woods of Missouri, where I learned to love the outdoors. I still have fond feelings for Ft. Worth, where we lived the longest, and where I put down the deepest roots. But we lived in three different houses in Ft. Worth in 18 years, and when I go back there the place has changed so much it's impossible to still see it as home. I love the city, and my friends that still live up there, but the thought of moving back there seems wrong, like going backwards in stead of forwards in my life.

I think I must have developed a pretty thick skin through the process of moving around all those times. We'd live somewhere just long enough to begin to get comfortable and have friends, and then the imperatives of my fathers career would intervene and we'd find ourselves starting again somewhere else. I'd be the new kid in school again, with a whole new series of idiots who wanted to test me. I guess I learned from all that moving around to take places for granted and build a new nest wherever I landed.

I turned into a pack rat, collecting all sorts of things that represented where I'd been and who I was. The legacy of that today is that I never throw anything away, because everything represents something personal to me. People come to my house now and are amazed at all the stuff I've accumulated. I joke that the next time I have to move I'm just gonna set fire to the place and start all over again clean, but you know I wouldn't. This stuff is all too important to me.

Throughout all those early years, while my sister and I grew up moving from place to place, our parents filled our heads with stories of their small town home and early life in rural Texas. Those stories planted a longing in us for the life they had lived, but that we could never have. Now and then we'd get to come back here to Bell county and spend time at our maternal grandparents house outside Temple. Dad's folks died while I was little, so I never got to see much of them or spend time there. My Mom's folks were the only grandparents I knew. One summer in the early '70s we even got to hang out there at the farm for about two-and-a-half weeks.

It was a totally different world than the one we lived in, and the closest thing to seeing "home" in a place I think I ever had in my early life. "Deed'n and Papa" represented stability and continuity. They would always be there in the same place, no matter where we were moved to. Their old farm was the anchor that we drifted around as the tides of my fathers career shifted our little family from one destination to another.



Here's a shot of my mom (center of the front row) and her family and friends in the early 1940s, sitting in front of that farm house, with the cotton fields behind it.

I realize now what my parents were giving up when they decided to leave this home and make a life in the Air Force. I understand what they sacrificed to give themselves and their children a chance at greater possibilities. They left the comfort of extended families and support networks; friends, family and places they'd known all their lives, and set off into the world. I think it took great courage to do that, and they must have missed their home a lot as they told us old stories at the dinner table. This was an important revelation to me when it dawned on me years ago. I'd always thought primarily of my own pain and what I imagined I'd missed out on, but after moving here as an adult I began to see some things in a more sympathetic way. I know now that they must have been in great pain, and I love them that much more now for going through it and giving me the life and opportunities I've had.

I moved here in the mid-1990s, and I got the chance to try to connect with the home and family my folks enjoyed as children, only the place had changed. My grandparents were dead by then, my cousin's ether uninterested or moved away. The old house that symbolized home and stability to my sister and I so many years ago was falling down and in ruins. By the turn of the last century it was unoccupied and dilapidated. My folks had sold it after my grandmother moved to a nursing home in the early '90s, and the new owner was renting it out to Mexican migrant workers.

The land around it was plowed farm land, but the house and the surrounding little town had become increasingly shabby and run down. I used to drive by the place on the way to teaching gigs for Temple College, and eventually began to hope that a tornado would come along and wipe the slate clean so the place could exist only in my memory. Eventually the owner complied with that unspoken wish and tore it down, to make way for a new warehouse.

I don't go by there any more. Why torture myself? My folks are older and their memories are failing, so the old stories are told less seldom, and less clearly. All the things that I imagined existed in this wonderland that was my mental image of parents childhood home have been redeveloped or abandoned, and it increasingly exists only in my memories. When my folks go, as they inevitably will, there really won't be anything left to tie me here. The places I live in now only serve to hold the things that really represent family and home to me, and I can take them anywhere I want. The world will be open to me. I can easily imagine piling all the essential stuff of my life in one of those fancy mobile homes and becoming a gypsy. See the world... again.

In the end, I suppose "home" is really where the heart is. While they live, my heart will always be where my folks are. Until recently, being alone in my own life, I always had a horror of seeing them go and being left alone in the world. Now, having found someone I think I may be able share my life with, I think I'll be OK. So long as we continue to be able to put up with one another, my stuff and my heart will always reside where my sweetheart is. I can rebuild my nest anywhere she wants to go. That's what my whole life has taught me to do, so I guess everything will be OK.

I hope everything will always be OK where you are, and that your heart will always have a warm home to nest in. Cheers.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

"ROSEBUD"

The cool dude over on the other side of everything has posed another question of the week. Dave wants to know... What was the best Christmas present I ever got? I tell ya, it's hard to pick one, one particular Christmas jumps out in my mind.

I'll never forget walkin' down to the basement/den in our house in Kansas City, Missouri in about 1972 and seein' that sled, the biggest thing in the room aside from the tree. There were presents all over the floor, but that sled stood out.

OK, you guys know by now, if you've been payin' attention, that I'm a big boy. I've always been a big boy, so the run-of-the-mill sleds that all the other kids had just didn't cut the mustard. I'd be layin' on 'em with just my torso and have my ass and legs scrapin' the snow, with all sorts of crap goin' down my pants. Not pleasant. Mom and dad knew this and went out and found one that fit me. I was in bliss. It must have been 4 1/2 feet long, with red steel blades and wooden slats, and wooden handles to steer it with. It snowed a lot there, and there was a huge hill up the street that we used to slide down, skate down, bike down, all through the year. I posted about that hill a long time ago. Check it out.

We'd get goin' at the top of that hill and slide down reaching amazing speeds (always seemed faster because you were so close to the ground), and then shoot up a ramp made of snow at the curb at the bottom of the hill (it was a T intersection) into someones yard and then try to miss the trees in their back yard. Jesus, that was fun, and would probably be illegal today. Some kids mom would sue the folks when her little brat hit a tree in their yard. Anyway, those are wonderful memories, so thanks Dave for bringin' them back to me.

Now, check this out. Then I have a few questions.



Ok, that's cool, and I bet it would work. I got used to seeing those little R2D2 CIWS units on any number of the ships I taught on back in the early 1990s. Here's a shot of one of those, this one on a carrier.



They're cool as hell, used to protect ships from low flying missiles. In this new case they're trying to reconfigure them to detect and shoot down incoming mortar rounds fired at coalition troops in Iraq. Shooting and running is a favored hobby of the fuzzies over in Mess-o-potamia.

I understand why they're trying to protect soldiers from mortars. It's perfectly understandable. But in sprayin' lead into the air like that, aren't you putting a few other folks in harms way? I mean, our guys are usually based near towns and villages, aren't they? Where the hell are all those 20mm shells going? You know, the ones that don't break up when they hit the mortar. I'm just sayin'...

I always wonder that when I see these demonstrations in any one of a number of shit hole countries in the world. Their soccer team wins and they take their Kalashnikov out in the street and empty a clip in the air. I mean, I'd love to be able to do that myself. It looks like fun. But where the hell do all the bullets go?

Aw, I'm bein' a nit picker.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Had dinner with the little wowman Monday night.

Hadn't been to Applebee's in a long time. We both got out of work at about 7:30PM and while she'd floated the idea of cooking a nice Shepherds Pie for me, I know she's been at work since 7:30AM and she doesn't need to be messin' around in the kitchen. We met at my house and got in her car, and were tryin' to come up with somewhere to go, but nothing sparked much interest. Denise came up with Applebee's and it turned out to be a great choice. We watched the game on the nearby TV, and were amazed to see Baltimore giving New England a game.

We started with an appetizer; queso dip and chips with spicy ground beef mixed into the dip. I'm tellin' ya, it was great! It was VERY reminiscent of the queso we get at Pappasito's in Austin. I was really surprised at how good it was. Try it, you'll like it.



Denise had the Quesadilla burger, which is a conventional burger slapped between two tortillas. It was OK, but my choice was a sock-knocker-offer.



This big chunk of beef is a Brewtus Steak Burger. We're talkin' 10 ounces of sirloin topped with Bacon and the fixin's. Delish. The adult beverages were a big glass of Ziegen Bock off the tap for me, and her usual Lager Shandy (a Bud Light off the tap mixed with a soda). They gave her a glass of Bud the same size as mine and a glass of Sierra Mist (Yuk!), and she ended up getting about three refills out of it. Nice trick.

We wandered through Target after dinner, walkin' off the good food, and now I'm sittin' here sippin a brandy, watchin' the end of the game. Damn, what a close one. That last pass was amazing. Too bad. Well, you know not to come here when you're hungry. Serves ya right. Later. Off to bed. Cheers.

Went to the Soviet Union in the summer of '83.

The trip lasted about five weeks, and took us from Amsterdam to Helsinki. We spent a week or so in places like Munich and Vienna, and then ten days in Romania, and then two and a half weeks in the Soviet Union. It was the first time I went anywhere without my folks, and it made a huge impression on me.

I'll never forget seeing Red Square for the first time, or Dzerzhinsky square, where the statue of the old secret police chief and the Lubyanka, the old KGB headquarters, loomed over the traffic passing by around the circle for decades. Lots of history bustin' out all over the place. Got a good look at my first kalashnikov on that trip, in the hands of a policeman in Bucharest. As soon as the sun started to go down they came out in groups and clamped down on everything. I got to see how the other half lived, back in the good old days of the cold war, and I loved the hell out of it.

Thing is, before I left, I asked my sister what sort of souvenirs she wanted me to bring back. She said, totally serious and with a strait face, "I'd LOVE of of those cool eggs". She was talking about a Faberge egg. I was like, "Are you fucking kidding?", and went on to tell her how much they normally go for. Always a princess, my sis. Anyway, I was reminded of this recently when I saw this story on the web.



LONDON (AP) - A rare enamel-and-gold Faberge egg that had been in the Rothschild banking family for more than a century sold for record-setting $18.5 million at auction Wednesday. The sale of the translucent pink egg topped with a diamond-studded cockerel was a record for a Faberge work of art, Christie's auction house said.

The price also broke the record for Russian artwork, excluding paintings, easily beating the $9.6 million paid for a Faberge egg in New York in 2002. Russian Czar Alexander III commissioned the first of the elaborate eggs from craftsman Peter Carl Faberge as an Easter gift for his wife, Empress Maria Fedorovna. The empress was so enamored of that 1885 piece—an enameled egg with a golden yoke, golden hen, miniature diamond crown and ruby egg inside—that the czar commissioned a new egg every Easter.

After the czar died in 1894, his son Nicholas continued the tradition until the Russian Revolution. Faberge created more than 50 eggs for Russia's imperial family, though not all survive. The Rothschild Faberge Egg is one of no more than 12 such pieces known to have made to imperial standards for private clients.

The Faberge egg sold Wednesday originally was acquired by Edouard Ephrussi, who represented the Rothschild family's oil interests in Baku, in modern Azerbaijan. Ephrussi's sister, Beatrice, gave the piece as an engagement gift to Edouard de Rothschild and Germaine Halphen, who married in 1905. Christie's said it had remained in the family since. The piece was sold to a private Russian bidder after 10 minutes of bidding, Christie's said.

Most recent thing with sis is the soap she's gotten me hooked on. It's called Vinolia. Very posh. She gets me the stuff at Christmas and I run out by about this time in the year. I'm on my last bar, so I go on the web and look it up, thinking I'll just get my own. The friggin' stuff is almost $20 a bar! My sister (ex hippie sex goddess) has a lot of cool knowledge, and has great taste in these sorts of things, but she's also like a drug dealer who hands out free crack to the kids to get them hooked, and then they find out how much the shit costs. Anyway, we found a site where we can get it relatively cheap... $320 for a crate of 72 bars! Hell, it's just money right, but at these prices the soap should blow you, swallow, and wipe you down after. Seriously.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

What accent do you have?

Found these over at Phlemmy's place.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Midland

"You have a Midland accent" is just another way of saying "you don't have an accent." You probably are from the Midland (Pennsylvania, southern Ohio, southern Indiana, southern Illinois, and Missouri) but then for all we know you could be from Florida or Charleston or one of those big southern cities like Atlanta or Dallas. You have a good voice for TV and radio.

The West

The South

Boston

North Central

The Inland North

Philadelphia

The Northeast

What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz


Well, I guess I moved around too much growin' up. I can affect just about any accent. Switch back and forth between them without even thinkin' about it.

William Shakespeare

Fathairybastard, Fathairybastard! Parting is such sweet sorrow
That I shall say Fathairybastard till it be morrow.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes:



William Shakespeare

O excellent! I love Fathairybastard better than figs.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes:



William Shakespeare

How now! a Fathairybastard? Dead, for a ducat, dead!

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?


Get your own quotes:

And my personal favorite...

William Shakespeare

There are more things in heaven and Denise, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

Which work of Shakespeare was the original quote from?

Get your own quotes:


I could play with this friggin' thing all day.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Took my Wowman out to lunch Wednesday afternoon.

First off, let me say WOOHOOO COWBOYS! OK, now that's out of my system...

I get out of my fifth class of the day at 2:30PM, and then have to be back by about 4PM (accept on Friday) for the sixth and seventh, so there's usually not much time to eat, but we like to make the effort every once and a while to hook up in the afternoon, even if it's only to head over to my place or hers for a snack and a snuggle.

I headed over to her office on the main campus and was parking when two sleek jets cut through the sky in front of me headed south. I thought they were T-38 trainers at first (like old F-5s), but when they banked over towards me and I got a better look at their silhouettes against the blue sky I saw immediately that they were F-18 Hornets, probably out of the Naval Air Station in Ft. Worth. While I waited for Denise to come down they zoomed around in front of me, around the local air field west of the campus, and I got a little impromptu air show. It was cool as hell. I miss that sort of thing a lot, having grown up on Air Force bases and seen it all my life.

In a little while Denise came down and got in the car and we were off. I was thinkin' about a big salad and a good sandwich at Jason's Deli in Killeen. I floated the idea but she came back with a better one. We ended up goin' to a nice little Italian place in Cove called Giovanni's. It's closer to the campus, and we hadn't been there in a while.


She ordered the Stromboli with ranch dressing to dip it in...



And I ordered the combination pasta. Its a plate of about 6 different kinds of pasta, including lasagna, covered with a great tomato sauce. I ordered meat balls to go in top of it all. Damn, it was good. The bread at this place isn't the greatest, but it's affordable and close, and the meals are great.

Wednesday night was pool night, and I actually had a win. It was ugly at times, with me making long or complicated shots only to miss easy short ones, but the lady I was playing cooperated with me by missing enough shots to give me a chance to sink the 8 a few times. I was happy. It was a two cigar night, and was gonna be a two mug night, but while I was playing one of my teammates mistakenly walked off with my beer. The waitress looked at me and asked if I wanted another one, and I looked at the empty that was sitting there and wondered what the fuck? We all gave him hell, but I didn't make him get me another. One was enough. I was gonna be drivin' in a short while, and there are a lot more adult beverages where I was headed.

Thursday morning Denise woke up feeling bad, with a headache and sore throat. I swear, if anyone in her office goes through there with a bug, Denise picks it up. I call her Typhoid Mary. For some reason, these bugs don't make the jump to me, but they lay her out. She called in sick and laid in, takin' a swig from a bottle of DayQuil now and then, and swearin' she was really ok and would get over it by Friday.

See, we've got plans. She floated the idea early in the week that she wanted to sleep in Saturday and then head back down south to Fredericksburg and do some Christmas shoppin'. I said somethin' like "Well hell, why don't we just get a room and spend the night?" Here eyes got big and a smile flashed across her face and the deal was done. There are a lot of nice ranches and B & Bs down there that cater to visitors, but I've been eyein' the nice hotels down at the end of the strip. I figure we can stay out late, check out the live music at a few clubs, do some pub crawlin' and then stagger back to the room and collapse. I called and a nice room with a king is a little less than $100 a night. Too cool. It was lookin' like another weekend of good food, good foreign (north of the Red River) beer, good smokes, and good snugglin'.

Now she's got a friggin' bug, and it's not goin' away, so the new plan is to bring her over here for the weekend, get some good pills down her and let her rest and get pampered while I get things done around the house. It was gonna be fun to walk the strip down in FBRG again with a good ceeegar blazin', but there's always next weekend. She'll be better by then, and the good times to be had down there aren't goin' anywhere.

My plan today is to head over to Temple like usual and take dad to eat Chinese, regular as clockwork. I might go over to Salado and wander through a cigar shop there on the way to dads. It's always fun to experiment. See what I can find that strikes my interest.

You guys try to have fun too. I'll see ya later. Cheers.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Went to a college graduation ceremony a few weeks ago.

It was for soldiers here on the base who have finished their degrees. They have one every fall, and I usually go. It's fun to watch old students and a few friends do the walk and see the fruition of their hard work.



Thing is, there are about a dozen different colleges giving out diplomas in this ceremony. Most of these folks have been going to college for years, and have switched from one institution to another in the process of serving in the military in different places, on different bases, and sometimes in different wars. Sarge talked about doing it this way, I think. They've had to make more than the usual efforts to keep it all on track to complete their degrees, so it's really cool to see them finally make it and move forward.



I watched my father do this when I was a little kid. He started college in 1939 at Temple Junior College, back when it was giving classes down in the basement of the local high school. He swept the floor to help pay his tuition. He finished his BA at the university of Nebraska in about 1966, just before we moved to England. I remember when we moved there, living there for only about six months so he could finish. I only have a few memories of that place. One memory is of seeing him walking to the car from his class when mom and I would go to pick him up. These are very early and hazy memories for me.

At the time, I thought the coolest thing that came to me from all that was a yellow sweatshirt from the University of Nebraska. It had a cool picture of an Indian with a tomahawk on the front of it. The Indian, the schools mascot, was walking forward on the front, menacing you with the tomahawk, and then you saw his back on the back of it. I inherited that sweatshirt when I got to an age when it fit me, at about 11 or 12, and I loved the hell out of it.

At the time, I tried to pretend I was an Indian warrior as often as I could, every time we played in the woods behind the house. That sweatshirt felt like a totem of courage and ferocity. All the other kids thought it was cool as hell too. I wore it out, or physically grew out of it, in no time. It eventually evolved into a set of rags in the garage. Of course, the Indian mascot has long since bitten the dust of political correctness, or I'd surf the web and try to find another like it. Oh well, you can't go home, or so they say.



Here you see the graduates turned around about mid way through the ceremony, thanking the families and coworkers who have supported them through the time it took to get their diplomas. These graduation ceremonies are always fun. They're not very orderly or solemn. Families and children always shout and make a racket when their daddy or mommy walks the stage, and other soldiers do the same for a person in their unit. It's a hoot to watch it all go on.



After it's all over, I meet up with several ex students and some even want to have their picture taken with me. It's nice to think that I've had some impact on these peoples lives, and that I've kinda left a trail behind me as I've done my job all these years. It was a huge surprise to me the first time I realized that. Feels good. I'm proud as hell of these folks. I guess these are my kids.

Thing is, the reason why I have a Masters Degree and do what I do is because I sat and watched my dad get his Masters while I was in high school. Seeing him go through that told me it was within the realm of possibility for me. That's really the coolest thing I got from dad going to school. It wasn't the sweatshirt. When these folks get their degrees, and their kids see them doing it, it means that they're opening up a whole world of possibility for their own children. The tax money we spend on the tuition for these folks is a huge investment in the future of the whole country. It makes me so proud to work here, with these particular students. It was a job I fell into, but I'm very glad I did.