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.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hilarious. Sound like someone we know?

Found this over at Overheard in New York.

Dad: Let's go to St. Patrick's!
Kid: ... Is that another bar?

--51st & 5thOverheard by: Kelly

And, it looks like our guys are gonna get a bit of added realism in their training.

Found this on the web this mornin'. Check it out.

Su-30s Over America
November 19, 2007: The Indian government has agreed to allow their air force to participate in Red Flag training exercises, with the U.S. Air Force, in the United States. This will cost the Indians about $25 million (fuel and other expenses to get 30 Su-30 fighters, plus Il-76 transports for refueling and maintenance gear, to the United States).

The U.S. Air Force Red Flag operation was founded during the Vietnam war, to provide more realistic training. It has been very successful. Originally it was conducted at one air base, which was equipped with special communications and computer gear to monitor the activities of all aircraft (for scoring, and later critique). But now there are two Red Flag equipped bases, one in Nevada, and another in Alaska.

It's generally recognized that Red Flag (and the earlier U.S. Navy "Top Gun" program) provides the best peace-time combat training in the world. The Indian pilots are eager to partake, and to pit their Su-30s against the best the U.S. Air Force has to offer. Details of this particular training exercises have not been released yet, but they may involve F-22s, as well as F-16s and F-15s.

We've been steadily shifting to using our first line fighters (F-15s, 16s, and 18s)as aggressors in these Red Flag simulations so the simulated combat can keep up with the increasing capabilities of newer Russian/Soviet technology. Now our guys are gonna get to play with the real thing. It should guarantee that when we go up against these planes in the hands of some upstart wanna-be great power, our guys should continue to have the advantages they've enjoyed since programs like Red Flag and Top Gun began in the 1970s. Click here for some cool video showing the capabilities of these Russian planes. For some reason YouTube isn't cooperating tonight, or I'd post the video.

Anyway, I'm giving a test tonight, so pray for them. Mmuaaahahahahahah!

Monday, November 26, 2007

I think mom had a good birthday today.

Denise and I went over to Temple after I got out of class at 7pm and we all shared a pizza. Mom loves the take-and-bake pies she gets at Papa Murphy's. We wanted to take the two of them out for dinner but she had already picked up the pies and was chillin' the wine, so we just went over after work and dug in. It was fun.

Denise remembered that mom had talked once about how much she loves Bailey's Irish Cream, so she took a bottle she had at the house, wrapped it up in one of those nice paper sacks with frilly paper you can get at the grocery store, and she gave it to mom. You should have seen the look on mom's face when she opened the paper.

So, we had good pizza and red wine for dinner, lots of fun conversation, and then a cold glass of Baily's for dessert. All in all, mom seemed to have a nice 80th birthday. She was happy. She says when she hits 90 were all goin' to Bermuda. I was like "Wooohooo mom!"

Thanks for all the nice comments and birthday wishes you guys. I really appreciate it. Cheers.

Here's a Brunoesque post for ya. Lots of stuff. See if you recognise anything.

First off, David over on the other side, where the water in the camodes goes the other way around, wants some scatological details from everyone. Check him out. The answer is yes. I take great pleasure in flushing while on the phone, particularly while talking to my sister. It freaks her out, and I've been getting pleasure freaking her out most of my life. Something to do.

Anyway, I guess you could say I've been accumulating stuff all my life. Click on these to see them up close.

I started doing that as a kid, picking up stuff from the countries we lived in or visited, mimicking what I saw my folks doing.

When we went to Europe in '70, my mom bought stuff all over the place. About a week after we got back, these boxes arrived from Italy and it was like Christmas. All sorts of cool stuff. They've still got most of it.

My room in the house was filled with postcards and banners from places in Germany and Italy. I had stacks of comics and a set of encyclopedias that usually could be found strewn about the floor next to my bed.

I made those things on the left. They work too.

So does the stuff in the case above.

Of course, my taste in stuff has gotten a bit more expensive as I've grown up. Also, I've gathered a lot of books, music and pictures that trace the range of my interests, witch are varied.

I guess you can see I'm into Indians and their gear. In general, people in history who lived their lives fully fascinate me. You can't say Indians ever did anything half assed.

I've developed an interest in guns, but I've always had a thing for weapons of all kinds. I guess a shrink might have something to say about that. You grow up feeling weak, so as an adult you surround yourself with weapons.

Hell, I just think they're cool. I grew up in a time when fast cars, large breasted women and guns ruled popular culture... So guess in what direction my interests evolved? Not too mysterious, but people who don't like weapons will always need to explain what they don't understand. Usually they characterize folks like me in a way that makes us seem weird and dysfunctional. Fuck them. They just don't get it.

I used to build models as a kid, and still have a few layin' around here.

I've been around the world a few times, boating with the Navy, and you can see some evidence of that.

Lots of books. And lots of dust. Jesus, I need to dust this stuff. Back when I was in high school I got really good at building models.

You can't tell it from these pictures, but these dudes in the early panzer 4 have eyes and hair, and medals painted on their uniforms. Lets just say I was spending WAY too much time alone in my room. Not a lot of girls in my life back then, but I could explain the differences between all these tanks in detail.


One word...


It's amazing to me that these things have stayed in tact, having been moved around the way they have.

Of course, there are hands and hats missing from some of these figures. Nothing gets away unscathed.

I carried this dude home from Kenya, in my luggage, after a particularly cool trip with the Navy.

He's my buddy. I've lugged him around the world. He represents power and dignity, both in the animal and the guy who carved him. Some dude carved him from a big piece of something that grew in the woods outside his village. That bastard is an artist.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Went to lunch in Temple today to meet a blogger.

His name is Jerry Wiley, and his blog is called Back Home Again. Check him out some time.

He was driving down from Indiana to visit a sister in Austin, and to do some job related stuff in Houston. The weather hasn't been very nice to him, with drivin' and pissin' rain most of the way through Texas, havin' to dodge trucks and other heavy traffic, and the chilly temps, but he's made it alright so far.

I was tryin' to think of where we should meet, and I came up with the idea of takin' him to a local favorite out in Zabcikville, about 10 minutes east of Temple. Green's Sausage House is famous, and well loved by most folks in this area. I was gettin' myself all ready to consume mass quantities of BBQ sausage and brisket sandwiches, but then I checked their web site and found out they're only open in Sunday for deer processing. Damn. So, since I talk about it all the time on my blog, I thought I'd just take him to the great Chinese food place I take Dad to in Fridays. Turned out to be a busy day for them. Lots of folks stoppin' by after church I guess. We talked and ate for at least an hour or so and had a great time.

Turns out Jerry and I had a lot in common, and will probably try to get together again. I think he's the kind of guy I could sit and talk music and computers with for hours and not get tired.

I've had a great time meeting the few bloggers that I've met so far. They've all turned out to be pretty cool. I told Jerry I think I have closer friends through blogging than I've ever had in my daily life. Of course, you tell anyone else you're gonna go meet a blogger off the Internet and they act like you're crazy, like you' might end up with your head in a freezer, not to mention your virtue being in grave danger. Well, I guess other folks just don't get it, and probably never will. Anyway, I'm big enough to take care of myself, and anyone who wants to threaten my virtue should just say so and step up. You'll probably need to bring a gun to keep Denise at bay, but it's your funeral.

Anyway, it was a fun time. I hope we get a chance to do it again.

After lunch I went over to the folks house to surprise my mom. Monday is her 80th birthday. I have to work till 7PM, so we probably won't be able to get together. I'll work on it, but it's hard to get them out of the house after 6:30 or so, understandably.

Last weekend, on the stop through Llano on the way to Fredericksburg, we stopped in a few antique stores. I picked up some nice old silver candle holders with etched glass bowls. They were reasonably priced, and very pretty. Right up her alley. I actually got them for myself, but while I was paying for them it hit me that they'd be perfect for mom. Worked out great.

I stopped at the grocery store to get a few cards, a smelly candle and some Worther's candies (her favorites), and went over and sprung it all one her. She was surprised and happy. I love that woman to death. She's my sweetheart.

My other sweetheart is comin' back into town tonight from Kentucky, so I'll be pickin' her up at the airport late tonight and bringin' her back here for a lengthy reunion. I've missed her a lot. I used to be happy here by myself. Told myself I was better off that way, but it was all bullshit. I told myself that to make the loneliness less painful. I've gotten used to havin' someone around now, so the loneliness of her absence makes the emptiness of this place that much more noticeable. I've never felt this way about anyone before. I guess I'm finally growing up, at the ripe old age of 47. I've wasted a lot of my life being an idiot, and the price I'm paying now for that is huge.

I was in the store today getting new windshield wipers for the car. The rain always reminds me how worn out the old ones were. Anyway, I was standing in line behind a young woman with her baby in the carrier propped up on the grocery basket. The kid was looking up at me as if to say "What the hell is THAT!", so I started smiling and making faces at the little critter. He smiled back, grinning and giggling. I kept it up till it was my turn at the checkout, and then they rolled off somewhere and I turned to the business at hand.

Every so often now it hits me that I'll never have kids, and that I'll never have grand kids. I wasted all the time when I was supposed to be doing those things being an idiot. I didn't mind it then. I told myself I didn't want children, but the truth was that I felt and told myself that no decent woman would have me. Now, after the changes that have taken place in my life this last year, the possibilities that I ignored because they always seemed out of reach are just beginning to come into focus, but it feels like it's too late. I see young couples at the grocery store, laughing and playing with their little kids, and sometimes I almost burst into tears. People who love me tell me it's not too late, but who the hell wants to be driven to the high school prom by a dad who's dottering around in his 70s, I mean, other than Hugh Hefner's kids. Fuck, he could adopt me now.

Anyway, everyone's got some shit they have to deal with, and that's mine. I hope I didn't harsh your mellow on this chilly Sunday night. Take care of yourselves. You all mean the world to me. Cheers.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Just uploaded those pictures from Ft. Martin Scott.

You can go here and check them out. Meanwhile, here's a taste.

I just don't think they made beds big enough for the FHB back in the old days. And on another level, how the hell did normal sized folks like me engage in, you know, normal adult behaviors, ridin' the hobby horse, without breakin' the bed? It's a mystery. I guess beds were just for sleepin in back then.

Dave was in the slammer so we could get a shot showing how small the cells were. He got nervous when I closed the door. There's no trust in this relationship.

And here's the tent set up by one of the rendezvous participants. Notice the double bed (two cots pushed together), the wood burning stove keeping the place toasty, and the little dog who perked up when I stuck my head in to take the shot. This dude knows how to camp. Huge envy.

Anyway, I'm headin' over to eat Thanksgiving leftovers at Mom's, so you guys stay warm and have a great Saturday night. Later.

Saturday was busy, but fun.

The trip to Fredericksburg Friday turned out to be a lot of fun. Dave and I got to town by about 11:30, found a parking place and headed to the Auslander for lunch. It was cold, in the low 40s, and there was a persistent wind blowing, so this time we avoided the outdoor tables and took seats inside the beergarten. I'm sittin' there, waitin' for the waitress to bring me my brew and take our order, I look up and guess what I see?

I knew she'd lived in Germany when she was younger, but I didn't know Denise had ever worked in a beergarten. Son of a bitch! We'll need to have a talk when she gets back Sunday night. She's got some esplainin' to do.

My drink of choice, despite the weather, was a Belgian Sunshine Wheat in a frozen mug. Good stuff. Goes great with the beer battered, fried mushrooms, and the same fat bacon cheeseburger I had last time I was here. They were all just as good as before. Dave chose the chicken fried steak and tea. We were both happy. After lunch we both had ice cream cones at the place next door (I know, it was cold, and people were in heavy coats, but when in Rome for Christ's sake), and then we headed over to the book signing.

I got in line behind this burly farmer/rancher type who was just gushing with praise for Mr. Kelton. He had a typed list of all the books he'd read and was tryin' to see if the store had any others. I enjoyed the hell out of meetin' him, and seein' how an author can influence the lives of people. It's a thing that has touched my own life, including the stuff I read on your blogs. You know who you are. "People don't realize how a man's life can be changed by one book". Malcom X said that. Pure wisdom. For me it was a book on Daniel Boone that I read when I was about 12. Never saw anything the same after that.

The line moved fast, and before you knew it I was shaking hands with the man himself. He was sitting in the back of a little book store with his wife, accepting the comments of admirers as he signed their books with whatever inscription they asked for. When I got there I handed him the two books I had and as he signed them I told him that I really appreciated him, that I loved his work, and that I hoped he would be able to keep doing what he was doing for a long time to come (He's at least in his mid-70s). He thanked me, smiled up at me and we shook hands again, a little tighter the second time, and then Dave and I were off.

Dave wanted to go to the East side of town and check out an old frontier fort, Fort Martin Scott, which was a big deal around here from the 1840s to the 1850s. It just so happened there was a rendezvous going on there, with reenactors having a good time portraying frontier life in the 1840s.

Now this is the kind of reenacting I could get into. One of these days I'll have a tipi.

There were all sorts of crafts and gear on display, and people selling cool stuff. We walked around for a while and I took pictures, and then we headed up to Enchanted Rock.

Dave had never climbed the rock, so I had the fun of taking him up the first time. The weather was chilly, but the exercise warmed us, and we made it in no time. Along the way, I took some nice shots and a lot of them came out.

I even took a few that I was able to merge later here at the house. This is a shot of Little Rock, which sits to the south of Enchanted Rock. The shots were taken from about 3/4ths the way up the big dome.

We made it up there, took a few pictures, made few phone calls, and then it was time to head out. I needed to get home in time to go get dad and take him to eat our traditional Friday fare.

This shot's for Bruno. Dude, it was Soooo good. Finger lickin' good. Look at those big juicy shrimp. I know. Never mind.

Anyway, many of the shots I took are already up at FlickR, so go check them out. A lot of them came out good, if I do say so myself.

I'll be up early Saturday. Dave and I are driving to Dallas to walk through a big gun show at Market Hall. I'll tote that new Garand around and see if I can get a sling and bayonet for it. It'll be fun. You guys have fun this weekend too. I'll see ya later. Cheers.

Postscript: Never mind. I ain't goin' anywhere today. It's pissin' down rain and about 40 degrees both here and in Dallas, and there'll be another gun show in a while. Meanwhile, that big bed of mine is warm and comfy. I'm out. Peace.

Friday, November 23, 2007

A few Fridays ago...

I took my dad to eat Chinese food and then we went out to Academy and we watched the Bees play their last game of the year. It was a blowout.

The Bees were playing Troy, another little town from up North a bit, off I-35. The Trojans were also playing their last game of the year. They came out like gangbusters, and started intercepting passes and running for touchdowns, and before we knew it poor little Academy was down by almost 30 points to nothing.

Dad can't handle too many stairs, so we have to take seats right there in front. People are walking to and fro and kids are always messin' around. Kind of a pain in the ass. There are usually all these little kids hangin' on the railing and gettin' yelled at by their folks for doin' it.

This one kid was just screamin' for me to take his picture.

I'm always amazed at how obvious it is, with these kids getting this early education about the games, and the social life surrounding the games, that kids in these little towns grow up the way they do. The girls gather in front of the cheerleaders, looking on in wonder, while the boys are focused on the games, learning everything they can, and looking to avoid their parents and have a good time. It's a window into the world that I missed out on somehow. Who knows why. It doesn't matter any more. Now I get to be here and take part, and enjoy it with dad. I love to watch it all go on in front of me, like a passion play. It fascinates me.

It's like readin' one of Mushy's old posts about growin' up in Harriman in the '50s. Only it's happenin' right here in front of me. It makes me wonder about the world these kids are gonna have to live in when they get to be my age. Scares me a little, but then I think every generation thinks that.

Anyway, Academy played like they'd already given up, and the Trojans were just too much for them. By half-time, the score was 40 to 0, with the Bees humbled on their own field. The teams ran off to the field house at the half, and the school bands came out. It turned out that they put on a better show than the football players.

The band from Troy came out first, and they put on an amazing show. The cheerleaders formed a line at one point and started doin' the... Well, what the hell do you call it? Watch this and you'll see. There's no sound, so don't hurt yourself tryin' to turn your speakers up.

After that the Academy band came out and put on a great show of their own. At one point they brought out The Freshmen and Sophomore band members to stand with the Juniors and graduating Seniors, and they all played together. It was cool.

Dad and I had a good time. The weather was warm, so dad didn't get too chilled.

We stayed until a little bit past half-time, and watched the Bees come running out again to try to get something started in the second half. But it was to no avail. I think they ended up loosing by something like 64 to nothing. Sad. Well, maybe next year.

Dad and I will head out to eat Chinese again tonight, even though the fridge is busting with Turkey Day leftovers. Tradition dammit! The Chinese food last Friday night was in rare form... Really good, so I'm lookin' forward to it. There are still high school playoff football games going on, but I'm not sure who or where. Also, we've had a "Blue Norther" blow in for Thanksgiving, so I doubt I'll be takin' the old dude out anyway. Hell, I don't want to be sittin' out there in the cold ether.

Meanwhile, my Friday is gonna start early. I'm headin' out this mornin' to take a day trip back down to Fredericksburg with my buddy Dave (Civil War reenactor dude in the earlier post). A local author of western novels named Elmer Kelton is going to be down there today signing books at one of the cooler book stores. He wrote one a while back that was made into a TNT movie starring Tommy Lee Jones, Sissy Spacek, and a slew of other great actors. It's called "The Good Old Boys". Maybe you've seen it? Anyway, it's great, and he's great, and I'm gonna get him to sign my copy of that book.

Dave and I will have lunch somewhere before the book signing. I might even get him to help me eat some more of those beer battered, fried mushrooms while I try another foreign beer at the Auslander. Then, after everything is done, I'm gonna take my buddy for his first trip to Enchanted Rock. He teaches Geology up here, and he knows all about the place, but he's never been up on the dome. We'll climb it, but we're not stayin'. I'll drive back up here in the afternon, go get dad, and we'll go over and work that buffet at Dynasty. It'll be a long day, but it'll be fun.

Well, you guys enjoy your Fridays off and your leftovers (always better the second time around), and I'll see ya over the weekend. There's a big gun show in Dallas this weekend, but I may just decide to lay around and vegetate. We'll see. And there's a blogger from Tennessee driving through this area this weekend on his way South. We may hook up, if everything works out. I'll tell ya all about it, whatever happens. Cheers.

Mom put on a good feed for Thanksgiving.

I picked up my sis and we made it over to the folks place just in time for the goods to be distributed. I thought mom was gonna avoid the trouble of cooking a turkey and just cook chicken this year, along with a ham. But when I got there I found, to me delight, a turkey AND a ham. Boy, was it all good.

The big pan on the right has gravy in it, and the small one on the left has English peas. The pan on the far left has fruit salad, and then there's another pan off camera that had little baby taters, slathered in sauce and cheese.

When I got there, mom gave me this sheepish look and said she thought she'd ruined the dressing this year. I said "What the hell?", and then assured her that she was probably overreacting as usual. She never likes the stuff she cooks. It's a routine we have. She tells us how bad it is and then we tell her she's nuts. She's a perfectionist, as any artist would be, and believe me, she's an artist in the kitchen.

She told me that she'd mistakenly used the wrong kind of beef broth this time. I started to worry that she might be telling the truth this time. Then she said that she'd mistakenly used beef broth with garlic in it. My eyes lit up and I told her that it sounded great. I love that stuff. Sure enough, she did a great job. The dressing was a little dry, but once you loaded it up with gravy, and once I piled the peas on it, as I always do, it was great as usual.

This was just my first plate. The leftovers will be killed off this Saturday night, after letting the flavors mingle a bit in the fridge. Well, I hope all of you had as good a time. Cheers.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Ain't they Purdy. Taste good too. If you're like me and mine, you'll be getting together with friends and/or family tomorrow and eating massive quantities of these wonderful critters, and maybe some cornbread dressing, some cranberry sauce, and maybe some ham. Ok, I'll stop.

Seriously, we have too much to be thankful for in this country to let it all just be about food and stuff. Take the time to tell your family how much they mean to you, and give thanks to whoever you give thanks to that you were born here, and not in one of the endless number of places where the kids can't run and play, and the grownups can't stand around the burner and drink beer while the turkey fries. Give thanks, and think about where we're goin' from here. It's up to all of us.

Thanks for comin' by here and contributing to my world in the past year or so. You're all way too important to me. You'll never know how much. I love you all. Give yourself a big hug for me. Cheers.

Remember that trip we took to Enchanted Rock, like two weekends ago?

Well, I've finally worked my way down to those pictures and I've uploaded 'em to FlickR. Here are a few of the highlights.

Here's our camp site. My buddies had already arrived and chosen three sites right next to the smaller of the two big domes. They come up from Austin, about thirty minutes away, so they can come early and snag some good ones. The rest of us come from places like San Antone (about an hour and a half away), Killeen (two hours away), or from as far away as Dallas (five hours away). These folks started comin' here in the early 1980s, when they were still goin' to UT and came to get wide and have REAL fun, so so they know what they're doin'.

Some of the sites have covers over them, and some are better situated for access to the shitters and showers. You can look here to see the map of the sites (we were at site number 27). The rocks jut out of the land just above these sites.

My first job, after unloading the car (maybe even before unloading, if it looks like rain) is setting up the tent. This is my job, because it's my tent, and it's easier for me to do it than to show someone else how to do it. And, hell, I love doin' it.

Same tent and sleeping setup as you saw in the shots from Terlingua. It's set up for maximum comfort, because I'm not alone any more. I want Denise to enjoy herself because I like wakin' up next to her, and I want to be able to spoon and snuggle and wake up next to her out here too. Too many of these guys can't get their women to come unless they get them a hotel room in Fredericksburg. That's bullshit if you ask me. I want to share the things I love with the woman I love, or I'll get another one. So far, Denise's been ready to do just about anything I do, so we're having a lot of fun.

I sleep better and I'm happier in a tent than anywhere else. I actually floated the idea (very briefly) when I did that road trip to Tennessee last summer to save money on the hotel room and just pitch a tent in Mushy's yard. It would have freaked them out, but I'd a been happier than a pig in shit. Of course, then I got there and saw the slope he lives on and has to mow, and I realized it wouldn't have worked out anyway. Hell, the Holiday Inn Express was PLUSH! King size plushness with internet and everything, so I was happy. They didn't have to listen to me snore, so they were happy too. From what I understand, Mushy and his dog and I would have set up a chorus.

These folks here have camped with me before, so they know to make sure my tent site is a ways off.

Anyway, here's the big rock, taken from the head of the trail leading up to it. At the top it's about 1825 feet above sea level. Denise bitched and moaned a little, but made it up the whole way like a trooper. I had to stop to rest with her a few more times than usual, but not TOO many more times. But I didn't mind it at all. I wanted her to make it, and when she did, you should have heard how proud she was.

Did I mention that we ate really well? This is breakfast on Monday morning. You guys have come to expect this sort of thing by now, surely.

We had a great time. We stayed up there on the rock for a good while, waiting for some of the other folks to walk over from the other dome, and then waiting for the kids to make it through the cave that's on the back of the big dome. After that we walked back to the ground level, with Denise sayin' stuff like "I can't believe I made it all the way up that sodding thing." She made sure I found out exactly how tall it was, and then called her daughters in Kentucky. I'm proud of her.

Later that night, after dinner, one of the guys brought out his telescope and we sat around star gazing. This guy knows a lot about the stars and planets, and can find them and give you a look. I saw the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn here for the first time in my life. That was a few years back though. I've become a bit blase about the whole thing now, but a shooting star will still bring out the little kid in me in a second.

We laid out on blankets on the park road and watched for shooters, and saw several. Short nippers and long burners. All the while, the mass of stars of the Milky Way stretched out from one horizon to the other. I don't even really believe in God most of the time, but there are times like this that reach into me and bring it out. You can really see the majesty of His/Her/It's work in that vista, His wonders to behold.

The big attraction this year was the mysterious smudge in the night sky. You could see it with high powered binoculars, and then once you knew where it was you could see it with the naked eye. The consensus then was that it was probably a comet, with us looking at it from the back, through the tail.

I never did hear what the hell it really was, but I just found this over at the Astronomy site. It's called the "M13 Globular Star Cluster in Hercules" . Who knows? This sure is what it looked like, only there was far less definition in the view that we saw. Well, it was cool anyway.

Alright, that's enough of that. I can hear you bitchin' about the long post, so I'll put it away. Click on the FlickR link to check out the rest of the shots. There's a set of shots in the order they were taken, up there on the right of the page. There were some nice closeups. Enjoy. Later.