Friday, May 30, 2008
It's Friday again' and I've got AC, $3463.34 later! OUCH, and yet Uraaaaa! And it's payday... Uraaaaa!
Damn, that was a pissy week, not that I didn't enjoy spending time at Denise's place, but there's no place like home. The cat's didn't know what the hell was up, and we were missin' them too. "D" kept thinkin' she was feelin' one of them jumpin' up in bed with us. I do that too sometimes. Weird what the mind does to ya.
I had a great pool night Wednesday night. I got there at about 9:30, after giving finals at school, and sat around for about an hour sippin' a cold mug and puffin' on a Puck. I've gotten to where I really enjoy the time spent shooting the shit and fucking with my friends there, and in this case, talkin' to the leader of the other team. He's a cool old dude, Vietnam Vet, long time car mechanic and muscle car guy. His son, a Navy vet, is also on their team. They're both great players and it's always fun to watch them take on the better players on our team.
We've talked during matches before and always hit it off, having a lot of feelings in common about politics and stuff. We see each other out there every week and he's always wavin' me over to tell me about the latest emails he's gotten. He's always tellin' me "You need to give me your email", so I finally did. Now we can trade all the wild stuff I get for the stuff he gets. At one point he asked me if nudity bothered me! I laughed out loud and said that if we were gonna go there then I had some damn good sources for smut and he'd be surprised. You guys know who you are.
Anyway, after about an hour my turn to play came along. One of the team leaders, who'd just finished a winning set, handed me the cue he was using (belonging to another good player) and told me too go ahead and use it. After starting out lousy and gettin' pissed off at myself (I hadn't played in a few weeks) I ended up winning two strait and finishing early.
At one point towards the end of the second game my opponent left me in a sticky spot. My last ball was stuck between the 8 ball and a corner pocket, leaving me without a direct shot and the cue ball on the far opposite end of the table. I called time and one of the team leaders came over and pointed out a shot that I'd already seen in my head. I'd be banking the cue ball off the other side of the corner pocket and knocking it into the pocket on the other side of the table.
He pointed to the place on the table that I needed to hit and stepped away. I took aim (I'm usually good at long shots) and hit it perfectly, banking if off the side into my ball and knocking my last ball into the corner pocket on the opposite side of the table. Both teams were silent for a second and then the whole place went up in hoots of stunned amazement. I had to stand there a minute and get over the shock myself. Couldn't believe I'd pulled it off.
After a few missed shots on both our parts I sank the 8 ball and the game and match was over in what seemed like no time. I sat around for a while to talk to the other team (the father and son) and they started to talk me into buying my own stick. I always use the ones they have there at the pool hall, figuring I'm not really good enough to go out and get my own. I'd feel like a fool carrying it around. Like I'm tryin' to show people I'm better than I really am.
I see some folks with what looks like a golf bag over their shoulder, filled with several sticks. They look like idiots to me, tryin' to show everyone else how professional they are by draggin' around a huge case at the meets. How many friggin' sticks do you need anyway? But these folks said that if I got my own stick and used it all the time, getting used to the weight and feel of it, my game would actually improve. What they said made sense to me. They do have some cool ones out there. Pretty, with nice wood grain. We'll see.
Anyway, today is gonna be fun too. First I'm gonna give my last Finals of the semester this afternoon (you know how I love makin' 'em sweat), then I'm gonna go down to Florence to put the finishing touches on the grades there and sign off on them. Then I'll head East from there to Salado and get a haircut from my cousin Peggy. It's early for me, but I've gotten to where I like havin' it short enough that when the wind blows through the car window I'm not left lookin' like I've got a swoop. And, it'll be nice to see her again and find out what her husband though of the job we did on Granddad's shotgun.
In the evening, Denise and I are gonna go back down to Florence to watch my Seniors graduate. Class of 2008. I've had those little brats in my classes for two years now. It's always fun to see them take that step off into the real world. I'm always tempted to grab one or two from the line and say something like "Weeeeell, playtime is over you little bastard. Now ya gotta go get a job!"
Then "D" and I are gonna head a little further South and eat dinner at Johnny Corrino's in Roundrock, North of Austin. Then we'll head back up to Temple and have a short visit with mom. She had some dental work done yesterday and is still a bit woozy from the drugs, so the regular Friday dinner was called off. Next Friday I'll be gone, fishing with my cousin Bob up in Canada (more on that later), so we'll have to make up for it in a few weeks.
Saturday is gonna be filled with chores, like getting the yard work finished from last weekend, but Sunday is gonna be fun. We've got tickets waiting at the Will Call window to see Joe Cocker and Steve Miller at The Backyard, in Bee Caves, Southwest of Austin off highway 71. It should be a good concert. Before that, as we head through Austin, we'll stop at Pappasito's for dinner. Those Brochette Shrimp have been callin' my name for LONG TIME. I will consume them with gusto, along with a few chilled beverages, and then we'll head to the gig, where drinks are served from bars inside the venue. It'll be a few big, fat, cold cans of Lone Star, just for the hell of it. God, I sound like a lush.
Anyway, you guys try to have a good weekend and we'll talk about the fishing and stuff later. Cheers.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
After the shooting stopped in Gatesville, Dave and I went into town to get a late lunch. We went to a local BBQ joint and had sandwiches and shared a big basket of onion rings. Mmmmm, good.
They called that a "Family Basket", but we both wondered how ether of us could get enough if any other family members had been there. It was a perfect portion for the two of us though. He had a chipped BBQ beef sandwich and I had BBQ ham. Good stuff. The free refills on the drinks were appreciated, after bein' out in the heat for a few hours.
After that little feast I drove back down south to Killeen, to Denise's place (you remember my AC is on the fritz). She'd been spending her Sunday afternoon going over to my place to see after my cats, doin' some house work and sitting out in her back yard, sunning herself. I tell ya, these Brits are weird when it comes to the sun. I guess they don't get much of it over there.
When her family was visiting here last summer they spent a huge amount of time layin' out, tryin' to get as roasted as they could in a week. When I asked them about it they asked me "Didn't I ever sunbathe?" I said something like "Hell no! 'Round here we get all the sun we need just walkin' to the car and back". Anyway, I got to Denise's place and found out there may be another reason our forefathers used to call her forefathers "Lobsters".
I was soon put to work on some chores that had gone unattended for a while. I replaced a few broken boards in her side fence that some kids had kicked in, and then I got my gas trimmer goin' and finished about half her front yard before the string ran out. That put me blissfully out of the trimmin' business until after the holiday. That's when I went in to clean up and take a shower and found her just about to turn my last Honey Lager into a Lager Shandy. You've seen the shower post, right? If not, scroll down.
Anyway, after gettin' all fresh and showered I started to get dressed to take us out to dinner. I told Denise I'd just put the same pants on I'd worn up to Gatesville but she said "No, I went over to your house and got you some new clothes." I was happy to hear that, till we both realized she'd forgotten to pick me up any fresh undies. We laughed about it, and then I rejected her idea of wearin' the old stinky pair and told her I was just gonna go without."Commando!", I believe it's called. I wouldn't have remembered what to call it if ol' Mushy hadn't taken that plunge a week or so ago.
So we headed off to a Temple to see Mom, go to the movies and go to BJs for dinner, with my boys enjoying more freedom than they've had to swing around in public than I can ever personally remember. Kind of a liberating experience really. I may have to do it more often.
We dropped my to see mom, whose been feelin' bad ever since she got back from Oklahoma. I think she picked up a bug on the trip. She assured us that she was takin' pills for it and would see a doctor if it didn't get better (since then it has). Then we were off to the mall to see "Indiana Jones". I thought it started out very cool, but that the coolness wore off about mid way through and it became silly and stupid. LOVE the idea that the new fascist villains were Russians. It's worth seein'. Enjoy, but don't laugh out loud at the sword fight or the swinging through the trees. Jesus!
We headed over to the restaurant after the flick and had about a 35 minute wait. Not unusual for that place. It's popular and there's not a hell of a lot else around there that people haven't been to a million times. When we got to our table we started out, as usual, with the appetizers. We've gotten into a rut there, always getting the same things. But hell, when you find what you like, why not enjoy it? Life is short.
My favorite appetizer is the Santa Fe Spring rolls (you've seen these before)... "Crispy spring rolls filled with tender chicken, black beans, fire-roasted red peppers, cilantro, sweet corn, jalapeños and Monterey jack cheese. Served with our Santa Fe dressing and avocado cream sauce, then garnished with green onions, fresh red peppers and red cabbage." Very good, particularly when you ask for Honey Mustard to dip them in, though the avocado cream sauce is pretty good too.
Denise is fond of the Tater Skins... "Shredded jack and cheddar cheeses melted over lightly fried potato skins, topped with applewood-smoked bacon bits, served with sour cream dip and topped with green onions". I like them too, so I usually end up gettin' a few bites. They're particularly good with the sour cream sauce that comes with them, but you know anything tastes better dipped in honey mustard.
For dinner, Denise went for the Cuban Burger, which she'd had once before. She and mom had ordered these the last time we brought mom to this place a few weeks ago. It's a beef, ham and cheese burger with slices of pickle in there and these huge seasoned wedge fries. It's a great little burger, but it must be a local thing because they don't list it on their website. At least I can't find it there.
I chose something different, as has been my habit since we started going to this place. I fully intend to make my way through most of the menu before I ever try something for a second time. This time around I chose the Scampi Pasta... "Flavorful, succulent shrimp tossed with delicate angel hair pasta in a light blend of olive oil, butter, garlic, lemon juice and Roma tomatoes. Topped with Parmesan cheese, seasoned bread crumbs and parsley." Mmm, mmm, mmm! It's not as good as the Jambalaya that I had last time, but I'd order it again.
As for drinks, I had a few Harvest Hefeweizens with a slice of orange (I always have to ask for it), and Denise had a Shandy made from a Piranha Pale Ale and a glass of Sierra Mist. I know, eeew! She wanted to have the Brewhouse Blonde, but they were out of it. Shocking! She won't go for the Pale Ale again. I'm not fond of it ether.
It was all wonderful. After that we headed over to have another visit with mom, who's been feeling puny lately. Some kind of bug. She busted out the Chateau Monet and we all had a little after dinner tipple. Then we headed back to Killeen. I discovered on the drive home one of the unexpected advantages of the whole "commando" thing. Somehow that drive just didn't seem to last as long as it usually does.
We stopped at my place for a while, to see about the cats and get some supplies (her cupboard was BARE), and then we headed back to Denise's place. It was about 86 degrees in the house at about 11:30 at night! I sure will be glad when that gets fixed.
Anyway, that was Sunday. Monday turned into the proverbial lost weekend, all in one day. Lazy, lazy, lazy.
Well, that was my weekend. The next one looks like it's gonna be fun. I'll tell ya about that later. You guys take care. Cheers.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
I went up to Gatesville Sunday afternoon to do some shooting with my buddy Dave Waters.
I took my new M-1 carbine and my Tokarev, SVT-40, and enough ammo to do some decent damage. That's my gear bag there, with some other refreshments on hand. The last time I came up here to shoot my carbine I got about 3 shots out of it before the hospital called me to tell me my daddy had died. I was looking forward to erasing that memory and getting some serious shooting done.
Dave was planning to shoot his new Garand. When he ordered mine through the CMP and it turned out to be such a beautiful specimen, he decided to order himself another one, just in case.
It turns out his new one isn't as pristine as mine, but I think he still got a great rifle. I like all the dents and marks in the wood. They give the weapon a history. Mine looks like it was taken right off the factory line and stored away, never shot or anything. That's cool, and I love the fact that it's so clean, but I also appreciate the history that this wear and tear represents.
Since I was gonna be shooting 7.62X54, Dave decided to pull out his Mosin-Nagant, which he says he got in trade for something else a long while back.
Dave's range is a very nice place to shoot. He regularly hosts gatherings of friends out there, including his reenactor buddies, who blast away at these metal targets with their muskets.
You can see all the dents they've managed to make over the years, as well as a few holes made in them by folks like me with more modern rounds.
One of the coolest things about this place is the collection old mysterious grave sites just up the hill from the range (picture on te right). I went up there with Dave this time and took some pictures of those graves and posted them over at FlickR. Click on over there and check them out. I think you'll agree, they're pretty interesting.
Dave took a turn shooting my Tokarev. It's one of my favorite toys. Kicks like a mule, shooting the big 7.62X54 round that was standard Russian fare till the smaller stuff took over after the "Great Patriotic War".
I tell ya, it was hot and sweaty "work" out there. I made the mistake of taking off the hat for a while to more easily wear the ear protection and paid for it with salty sweat in the eyes. Not good. So I put the hat back on and kept it on the rest of the day, decidin' not to care how goofy, or maybe how much MORE goofy it made me look.
Dave later busted out his Nagant and we both took turns with it. That thing also kicks like a mule.
Then it was time to try out the new Garand. You can see in this little soundless video how much Dave gets shoved around by this rifle.
Then it was my turn. You folks who know what this is all about can add the "ting" sound yourself, after the second shot. Then Dave walks over to me, not realizin' the thing was still on.
Then Dave surprised me and pulled out this Walther P-38 from one of his kit bags. I didn't know he'd brought it. I'd never shot one, so it was a special treat to get to throw some 9mm rounds down the way.
We were aimin' for that small round metal target in the picture above. We both managed to hit it a few times, but he's much more proficient at all this stuff than I am. I must say though, I do make this stuff look good. Eh???
Later on I'll tell you what happened after the shootin', and I'll show you all the good food we ate. Now, don't get all sweaty thinkin' about it. Chill. I'll see ya later.
Yep, I took one into the shower Saturday evening, just before we went out to eat. I know, it doesn't look good...
But wait. I had a good reason! I found some really good stuff, and it was in danger. Seriously. Dire peril!
It's called Michelob Honey Lager. Wonderful stuff! Seriously, see if you can find it. They only sell it in 6-packs here so far and they don't stock much, so I'm assuming it's new.
Anyway, I was down to one bottle, and Denise was gonna pour 7-UP into it! I ask you, what the hell is a man to do? I grabbed this little jewel away from her and took it into the shower as I washed off the accumulated grime from a day of shooting and trimming weeds (more on the shooting later). It turns out, when you're in the shower, cooling off, sudsing up and hosing down all the nooks and cranny's, what's better to sip than "the pause that refreshes"? It was goood! When I went out today to restock the local grocer was all out, so I went to a grocer down the highway and found three 6-packs. That should last the rest of the week, barring an excess of 7-UP in the vicinity. Sheeeesh!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
OK, as I told you before, I actually organized a mock battle one summer day in about 1970. Like I said, I'd begun to acquire a following of younger kids by the last summer there in Missouri. That notion seems totally bizarre to me now, but I remember it fondly. I think they wanted to play with me because I was bigger than them and I was fun. Also, I wasn't a bully, which set me aside from a lot of the other older kids. I can't remember what prompted the battle. I may have seen a movie and floated the idea. No tellin'.
It seems to me there were about ten or fifteen kids on one side of that clearing and just me and three or four other kids on my side. We lined up opposite one another, armed with those dried weed stalks that I told you about before. You'd pull them out of the ground and the dried root would come up with a natural point. When you cleaned all the dirt off it and pulled off all the limbs you'd be left with a strait, light disposable javelin with a ready point that, because of the heavy end, would always fly straight and land point first.
Anyway, we all had several of these spears in our arsenal, and my boys all had shields. Of course, I had that big metal sled on my arm, making me virtually impregnable. It covered me from head to knee, just like the real thing. The other guys had stuff made out of wood or cardboard. We'd probably all sat around in someone's basement and made them together.
Again, the other kids were bunched up in a big group on the other side of a clearing. They were really hopped up, outnumbering us the way they did, but I had a plan. I'd seen the movies, so I knew what to do.
I told my guys to form a shield wall, shoulder to shoulder - All four or five of us, and told them to wait and hold their fire. The other kids started yellin' like it was for real and charged us. When they got about half way to us I told my guys to cut loose. I'd told them to throw their spears high in the air, over everyones' heads. Next thing you know the air was filled with those things and the other kids were dodgin' spears, pissin' their pants and runnin' away. Worked brilliantly, ONCE. When the next charge came they were ready for us and we all died a horrible death. Then we all got up off the ground, dusted ourselves off and did it again. That was a fun day.
I told you before about my envy of Mike Hinkley going hunting with his dad and my childhood dreams about being a hunter. Well, I'm not proud of it, but my very first hunting experience took place along that creek, not far from the house. OK, I don't count the crawdads. My first time was the little bunny.
I was just walkin' along that creek with my bow one day and noticed a rabbit out of the corner of my left eye, sittin' on the other side of the creek in a little clearing, chewing on some brush. I stopped cold and looked at it, drawing an arrow out of my quiver very slowly and quietly. I couldn't believe it. here was my moment. I wasn't even thinkin' about what I was gonna do with it after I killed it. It was just somethin' I could kill. Somethin' I could use to take things to the next level.
Like I said, I laid an arrow on the rest, drew my bow back, cocked at an angle so I could look down the shaft. That's how we aimed back then, before we graduated to aluminum limbs, plastic cams and 60 lbs of pressure behind the arrow. I aimed my bow and let fly, only to see the arrow miss by what seemed then to be a mile. Probably just inches, but the rabbit didn't bolt for cover, so I drew another and shot again, missing again.
I ended up emptying my quiver at that friggin critter and it never moved. It only ran for cover when I jumped across the creek to retrieve my gear. I couldn't believe it. How could I have missed? I was good with that friggin' thing! There wasn't a tree or sapling around that I hadn't plugged with holes from decent distances. I was very happy none of my friends had been there to witness my humiliation.
Anyway, that was my first hunting experience. We moved away from there and I was made to put the bow away soon after that, so I didn't get another chance to kill something for about 25 years. That's another story, for another woodsy post. We'll talk.
You'll also remember me tellin' you about the strange family up the street, with all the sons and the great dog? Well, like I said before, I can't remember their name. I don't know what their dad did for a living, though my mom has always been convinced that he was in the mob. Who knows? What fascinated me was how wild and free their kids were.
The oldest son was a biker who would ride into town now and then and make a lot of noise. He was an adult to me then, which might make him about 20. He'd always seem to end up out in the woods where he'd be found around a little camp fire, sniffin' glue and glarin' at people. The next oldest boy was about 2 or 3 years older than me, though he seemed WAY older. They all did. They all seemed older than their years.
That boy was scary too, so we didn't spend much time around him. My most vivid memory of him was of all of us building wooden ramps in the street to jump our bikes over. This was the era of "Evel Kneivel", so we were all tryin' to do all that sort of stuff, only on our bikes. He built his the highest, and made the jump. I remember being stunned to see him make it. I always admired that sort of courage, but wondered where that daredevil stuff came from. I was always too careful to try the highest jump. I guess I got enough thrills from the lower ramp. Story of my life, in a way.
Those two oldest boys were the two that supposedly drug a girl off into the woods once and raped her. The story I got was that she was probably the girlfriend of the oldest son. They all got stoned on something out there and things probably got too real, to quickly for her liking. To me at the time, not knowing what rape really was, all it meant was that those two had actually had sex, which was still a mysterious and scary thing to me then. it added to the larger perception that they were dangerous and to be avoided.
The next boy in that family was the one that was my age. Even so, we didn't spend much time with him. He was always wanting to fight and get into trouble. The one time I remember hanging out with him and havin' fun was when we went crawdad giggin' in the creek that day. The other vivid memory was of him flickin' lit matches at me, tryin' to impress some girl.
The one son in that family that we all hung out with and were friends with was the youngest boy. He was actually a few years younger than us, but he already smoked and ran with confidence in the woods. He did everything we did, had a good sense of humor, and was the only one of that bunch we all weren't scared of. I guess, growing up in that family, you had to mature quickly. I guess my fondest memory of him had to do with the "arrangement" he had with one of our neighbors.
Every once and a while this kid and I'd be playin' around the yard when the man who lived next door to us would come home from work. This kid would run up to him and ask him "Did you bring me my cookies?", and the guy would say "Yep!", and hand over a new, unopened box of cookies. Not knowin' what was goin' down, I thought that was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. Once dad saw me goin' over there with the kid and then havin' a cookie when he offered me some. He hit the roof. Told me never to go over there again and not to hang out with that kid any more.
I was totally confused, till dad told me what was up. It seems that family had gone on vacation once. My friend had broken in and drug all their sprinklers into the house and turned them on. They were payin' him off with cookies to get him to leave them alone. So he had his own little protection racket goin' on. Maybe his dad was in the mob.
He actually took me over to his house once. The place was a wreck, with motorcycles parked on the front lawn and no grass, and all sorts of boxes, cages and old trash cans all over the place. Each one of the boxes, cans and cages had a critter in it. I remember looking down into a metal trash can in the front yard and seeing a huge black snake that one of the brothers had caught in the woods. The whole place was a menagerie. It was fascinating.
I have a particular memory of going through their den and heading up the stairs to this kid's room. His oldest brother and all his friends were sitting in the living room, doing God knows what, but they all stared menacingly at me as I went up the stares. Thinking back on it now, the sight of all those guys sitting there reminds me of one of those old album covers, with the band sitting around a room, everyone with long stringy hair, or a huge fro and torn jeans and a puffy shirts. Maybe a hookah on the coffee table and HUGE stereo speakers blaring. Aaaa, the '70s.
Anyway, by far the coolest member of that family and the one we kids played with the most was their huge St. Bernard dog, "Gus". Gus was a horse of a dog. The smaller of us could actually ride him. He roamed the woods with us all the time, and would roam the neighborhood freely, doing whatever he wanted, wherever he wanted. Mom used to cuss him when she'd find what amounted to a horse turd in her garden.
Once, in the middle of summer, Gus gave me a scare. I was playin' down the street from the house one day when he came walkin' up behind me and tried to mount me. I was just standin' there, mindin' my own business. Next thing I know he's jumped up with his huge paws on my shoulders and tryin' to have his way with me. I got out from under him and some other folks came to my aid. I ended up with a long gouge in my back where his paw scraped me, and a pretty decent sized wound to my pride.
It was later determined that since our family dog, Missy, had gone into heat, I must have had some of her sent on me and Gus put two and two together. Once the shock and embarrassment of the whole thing wore off, the other kids and I turned it all into a game. Every time Gus saw me he'd chase after me, so we'd wait till he was about two houses away and get his attention, then run for our lives. He was a great dog. I've always wanted a big dog like that since then. One of these days.
Well, that's enough for now. Turns out I keep thinkin' of more stuff to tell ya, so there may well be a few more of these woodsy posts. So hold on, we'll talk. Cheers.
Monday, May 26, 2008
And everyone else too. Days like this take on a greater meaning after loosing dad. We're loosing the vets from his generation by the thousands every day, so please take time today to think of someone, and maybe go up to an old geezer somewhere and say thanks.
I want to say thanks to all the vets I've known, and all the guys I know now. You know who you are... Pat, Sarge, Bruno, Paul ("His Mushyness"), Buck, and everyone I'm forgetting to list at this late hour. Thanks a lot for your service, and for letting a kid like me hang with you a while. You're all the greatest!
Thanks Uncle John, for being my cool cowboy uncle, and for doing that stint in the army in the '50s. You'll always live in my heart.
Thanks Uncle Vernie, for being such a special friend and comfort to mom when she was growing up. I never knew you, but mom loved you very much, and misses you still. Thanks for those years you served in the Navy back in the 1920s. I wish we could sit together now and compare notes. I bet you saw some fascinating history out there.
And thanks, Cousin Lavern (Uncle Vernie's son), for being such a loving friend to mom and dad when the three of you were growing up. Mom loved you so much that after you died in the war she gave me your name. I'm sorry I was ashamed of it for so long growing up. I was a dumb kid, and I've been mixed up about a LOT of things for a long time. I'm proud of that name now, and I'll deck anyone who makes fun of it. I wish you'd lived, so I could have gotten to know you. We'll have to sit together one of these days and talk about all the things you saw.
Thanks too to all the guys I don't have pictures of now... Uncle Melvin, who served in the army in the WW2 and was in the Battle of the Bulge, and Uncle Bob. Dear uncle Bob. God, I miss you. You were the coolest! You served in WW2, the Pentagon, and then did two tours in Vietnam.
It sucks that you died when you did and that we never got a chance to talk about all that stuff. But I'll see you again. I'll see your boy, now a great man on his own, in a week or so, and I'll give him a BIG hug for ya. He's the best. We're like brothers now. I think you'd be happy about that. You did a wonderful job bringin' him up.
I love all you guys, and I miss you all terribly. Thanks again for all you did, and all you went through to serve your country. I'm so proud to have known you all.
I love all you other guys too. I hope you have a great holiday and we all keep chuggin' along, so we can do this again next year. Take care. Cheers!
Friday, May 23, 2008
It's about 3PM Friday as I begin to jot this down. I'm sitting here at the computer sweating like a slave, waiting for the air conditioner repair guy to mosey on over.
I came home from the pool hall at about 10:30 Wednesday night and found it to be 84 degrees in the house! I called the boys Thursday morning and they said they were booked up and it'd be Friday before they could see me. So here I sit, by balls stickin' to my leg, 88 degrees in the house, all the doors open, waitin' for this dude to get here. If he gets here and tells me it's a quick, cheap fix, all the stupid waiting is forgiven. I doubt it'll be cheap though. All my appliances, AC unit, Dishwasher, etc., are about 12 or 13 years old and due to go tits up on me at any time.
Just got the call that they're headed this way. Fingers crossed!
Later tonight Denise and I will meet the Moons, Wilson and his wife, at the Dynasty Chinese place dad and I used to frequent. It'll be fun to see them again and to chow down on that good shrimp fried rice and the generals chicken. After that we'll head over to mom's for a tipple. Then we have plans to go to the mall and see the new Indiana Jones flick. It looks cool as hell.
Mom and sis got back from their trip to Oklahoma last night and both called me, tellin' me their versions of how everything went down. It was hilarious to compare the versions. Mom calls me first and gives me the sweet, polite version, tellin' me that they'd only had a few screamin', yellin' fights. Then sis calls and tells me "Mom was SUCH a BITCH!". I just sat there and laughed.
Bottom line... All seems to be well. Sis had her interview and is excited enough about the idea of going back to Oklahoma that she's thinking about putting in more resumes up there just in case this one doesn't work out. Mom even told me that she was impressed with sis' professional demeanor when she was dealing with those folks. She's all excited about living up near Tinker Air Force Base, where she and mom and dad were stationed just before I was born. If she does get to do that I'll find myself envying here a lot. I really miss being near a base and hearing those jets every day. It's in my DNA.
She was there in the fifth grade, and then again in grad school, so now it feels like going back home to her. I hope everything works out. The job is dependent on state funding and the salary isn't what she was originally told it would be. Still, it's a start, and God knows she needs to get going somewhere.
FUCK ME IN THE ASS WITH A PRICKLY PAIR! It looks like I need a new AC unit. The compressor is history. Damn! And he says they can't get it done till Tuesday... The holidays and all. He's callin' someone now to see what he can do. Anyway, we'll be sleeping for the foreseeable future at Denise's place. SHIT!
We're stayin' around here over the weekend. Plans are to grill somethin' good at some point and maybe go swimmin' in a lake or river down the highway a ways. Sounds all summery, don't it? Wooohooo! There'll be more yard work, movin' the piles of crap we pulled from the yard out to the field across the road so it can all be hauled away by the city. There'll be new stuff planted and watered. I'll get pictures, no worries.
I've also got a knife project to get started on. Remember me postin' about the Damascus blade I bought and the walrus penis bone handle materials. Well, this weekend is when it will all get started. I told Bob when he was here for dad's funeral that I was gonna put it together and bring it up to hand over as a present for his new grandson.
I'll give it to his son-in-law, who's gonna join us on the fishing trip. I'll tell him it's for his son, but he can play with it till the gets old enough to use it. They're all avid hunters and fishermen up there, so it'll go over well. I head up the to see them in a week-and-a-half or so, so there's no time to waste. It's lookin' cool in my head, with the plan comin' together. I'll take pictures of it before I hand it over. You just wait!
Well, it just cost me $80 to find out that I'm gonna need to spent $3400 for a new AC unit outside, and it won't be till Wednesday or Thursday that they can get it here and install it. Sheeeeiiiittttt! They could replace the compressor, but the rest of the unit is 13 years old, past it's expiration date, so I might as well get a new one. Anyway, what do you guys think? I always feel like I'm getting screwed when I deal with these dudes. The new compressor for the old unit is $1500, with a two year warranty, and the AC unit is $3400, with a ten year warranty.
Needless to say we'll be transferrin' our operations to Base Camp 2 (Denise's house) for the next week or so. Denise's bed is smaller than my huge parade ground of a thing, but it'll have to do. You guys go crank up your AC and I'll suffer here in silence (NOT!).
I'm gonna go do a little work on the knife and then I'll take a cold shower and get the hell out of Dodge. You guys enjoy your coolness and I'll have another round of woodsy tales for ya on Monday. Happy Memorial Day, by the way. Cheers.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Last Friday was a good outing with Mom and Denise. We went to Zabcikville, east of temple, and had burgers at Green's Sausage House.
They're famous for their sausage, stuffed with peppers and anything else you want, but they also make wonderful burgers and sandwiches. Mom had a super ham and Swiss, Denise had a sausage burger and I went for the big bacon cheese burger. we shared fries and onion rings and it was all wonderful, and relatively cheap.
After eating, since we were out on the east side of Temple, I asked mom if she wanted to go check on the plots in the cemetery out there where some of her relatives are buried. Both she and Denise said yes, so we headed over there.
It's called the Little Flock Cemetery. My mom's grand parents and a few aunts and uncles are buried there, mostly under those huge pecan trees. there's a reason for that. When her great grandparents died, her grandfather planted those trees right next to his parents graves. The trees have since grown to a tremendous height, and produce wonderful crop of pecans.
After wandering around the cemetery, taking pictures of some of the older headstones and checkin' on the old relatives, the three of us headed back to temple and made a side trip to Dairy Queen for dessert. We each got a blizzard, heath candy variety, and took them home to Mom's house.
After finishing the treats we busted out the booze and sipped some Chateau Monet, finishing off the bottle.
We were all in a reflective mood, partly from the trip to the cemetery but also from the crap that's goin' on in the family now. I won't labor you with details (I think I've already unloaded that crap on you anyway). Suffice to say that the drama between my mom, sister and I has heated up lately.
Sis has been cut off from the support the folks have been giving her for the last five years, the money train having hit a huge wall when dad died and mom's income was cut in half. Since then she's had a line on a job in Midwest City, East of Oklahoma City, and so she and mom are drivin' up there this week to check it out and see about getting sis an apartment up there.
It turns out that dad's death has been the catalyst for getting my big sis off her fat ass and back into the adult world. It's too bad that it took that to get it done, but at least something good is coming from the loss.
Denise and I also started to tackle some yard work around the house Friday, cleaning up part of the front yard and trimming back the rose bushes. They had been pulled away from the wall by a high wind a week or so earlier and were blocking access to my front door. It's not something I worried a lot about, keeping unwanted visitors away and all being a boon to my serenity, but it was unsightly and had to be fixed.
Part of the urgency behind this explosion of yard work was due to the fact that we were gonna have a visitor on Saturday. I'd gotten an email a few days earlier from Holly sayin' she was comin' down to Killeen and wanted to get back together.
She'd come down a while earlier and we'd taken her to one of our best Chinese food places, but later attempts to connect were always derailed by other plans. Trips to Fredericksburg and such. So I was looking forward to seeing her again and showing her around BJs, which has become a favorite haunt of ours.
The food at BJs was wonderful, as usual, and we had a great time. The dinner and subsequent after dinner tipple at my place was a huge blast, and we hope she gets to come down again soon. She's a hoot, and we love to get together with her and commiserate about family drama and the world in general. Ya gotta love a woman who carries a Colt 1911 in her little purse, and knows how to use it!
Saturday afternoon we began to tackle the back yard, which had been allowed to turn into a jungle again. You might remember a post from about a year ago, the last time I spent about 8 hours clearing this mess.
The cats always gather in the yard to watch the festivities. This is Sandy and Rusty, the twins, checkin' out the strange goings on from the steps at the back of the yard.
One of the things we discovered in the yard was a little present one of the cats had left for us.
Back when I moved into this house, in 2003, my cats went on a rampage and left rat carcases all over the place. In stead of being grateful for the free extermination services my neighbors were horrified and disgusted, wanting me to ether keep my cats in the house or get rid of them. City folks!
These are the sort of people who move to the country and then complain that the deer are eating their flowers, but won't let you hunt them. Eventually I put a cat fence up along the top of the wood fence and the issue was solved. However, about a month ago I realized that a few of them were escaping. I'd get home from work in the evening and one or two would be sitting in the front yard waiting for me. So part of this flurry of activity was to plug the hole in the fence and get the cats back in the yard before one of my Nazi neighbors calls Animal Control.
We left several piles of weeds in our wake. By late Sunday, the yard was almost cleared and we were thinkin' about what sorts of plants and flowers we were gonna get to plant , to replace the weeds. One more weekend and we'll have it all set up right, or good enough to let go for another year.
Anyway, that was the weekend, Exciting eh? This next one looks like it might be just as exciting. I'll keep ya posted. Cheers.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
As I've said, we practically lived in those woods in the summers, and the winter wasn't much different. My mom can tell you stories. She remembers us going out in the snow early in the morning and staying out for hours till we'd come home just to change out of our wet jeans and eat, and then we'd head out again. We'd slide down the big hill up the street on our sleds and jump the curb into the space between two houses, the winner being the one who went the fastest and farthest into the back yard. That was one time my size was a boon. We'd try to walk and slide on the thin ice that would cover that creek and inevitably bust through and be knee deep in water. We'd laugh our asses off and just play on, seemingly immune to any illness that parents try to guard their kids against.
I'll never forget my first ice storm in our first winter there. I'd never seen anything like that in England, where I was introduced to my first really cold winter and deep snow that would bring almost every human endeavor to a screeching halt. I'd never seen anything more beautiful than the ice covering the limbs of those trees, like they were dipped in glass. With the sun shining through them it would make the whole woods sparkle. Breaking off a small limb would result in a sharp crack that would reverberate through the tree as the limbs hit one another. We'd wander along, our eyes gazing up in wonder as we trudged through those woods on our familiar trails. It was a wonderland.
In the summer the woods would come back to life, with endless noises being made by endless insects and occasional wildlife. The woods and fields we played in would fill out with thick, tall brush that became our hiding place, where we were mostly hidden from the eyes of the outside world. we'd hide at the side of a trail like an Indian war party and ambush the other kids who'd be riding by on their bikes. there was some sort of weed that grew all over in the summer. When you pulled the dried dead stalks up the root would make a perfect spear point. After breaking off the limbs we'd be left with a dozen disposable spears a piece, which we'd toss in the air to rain down on our victims as they went past.
Dad went on a trip to Asia in about '72 and brought me back a load of cool stuff, including three Bolo swords from the Philippines (that one in the link is very similar to one of the three I had). My friends and I were in bliss. I'd take one, the one with the squiggly, snake like Kris blade and hand the other two to a few fiends, and with them we'd cut our way through the summers brush as if we were explorers hacking our way through "Darkest Africa".
I'd also told dad (he was also going to Japan) to bring me back one of those cool Samurai helmets. What the hell did I know? I took a shot. I got word eventually that he'd picked up two and was headed home. I was ecstatic and had visions of runnin' through the woods wearing the friggin' thing, one of my buddies wearing the other, the two of us fighting battles and being the coolest kids in the world.
It turned out he'd picked up two little replicas that were about six or eight inches tall and sat on little pillows. Damn, was I depressed for a while. But kids shake that sort of stuff off quick. Before you knew it those helmets were up on a shelf, lookin' cool as hell, and I was back in the woods pretending to be Julius Caesar with a cardboard helmet I'd made myself out of a shoe box.
My buddies and I would have sword fights with those things and use them like machetes, cutting our way through the tall weeds, some of them with stalks as thick around as small trees. I tell ya, it was cool as hell to slice through those stalks with one swipe of the blade. But the swords weren't my weapons of choice. As cool as they were, they were secondary to my trusty fiberglass bow and the Fred Bear hunting arrows that were my pride and joy. Those woods and back yards are where I learned to shoot a bow and arrow, and how to make a spear. My friends and I were deadly. Thinking back on it now, it's a wonder how our parents stood by and let us enjoy ourselves like that. I'll be eternally grateful to them for giving me the freedom I was able to enjoy.
I guess you could say we'd seen too many movies. You know those scenes where the Brits, or whoever, would have their archers stand in a bunch and let fly into the enemy ranks? well we'd all stand, maybe 6 or 8 of us, at one end of the clearing that ran along the creek through everyone's back yard (there were no fences) and let fly down the way. the sight of all those arrows flying high would give me a chill, and then we'd run, laughing all the way, down to where they'd landed and shoot them back down the other way again.
There was one big hulk of a tree on the other side of the creek, down the trail from the house into the woods that we gave a lot of attention to. At some point I dubbed it "The Elephant Tree", probably from a picture in a book I had showing a Mammoth that had been filled with spears by primitive hunters. Mushy recently posted a shot of an old partially dead tree on FlickR that looks somewhat like the one in question.
The tree I'm taking about was bigger than this one, larger around the trunk, but maybe that's just the distorted picture I have in my head now from when I was a lot smaller. Anyway, the half of the tree that was exposed with rotted red bark conveniently faced the opposite side of the creek where the rail meandered past. It became a favorite target for our arrows. we'd walk along the trail that led down the creek and stop, as if surprised, and launch a flight of arrows into it. The arrows would make a deep thudding noise as they hit, which was the thing we really loved. In our minds we were great hunters, bringing down a Mammoth, a Grizzly Bear or a Buffalo.
As you can imagine, that creek was an endless source of adventure and excitement. I'll never forget wading barefooted down it's length once or twice, using an arrow with a field point to gig crawdads. Those poor bastards had no chance, unless they managed to flit their tails and do their back stroke fast enough. Some did, but others died a grisly death, only to be pulled out of the water, admired momentarily for their prehistoric coolness and then tossed away. I'd caught crawdads on my Grandparent's farm in Texas before, using bacon on a string, but this was MUCH more fun.
The guy I went giggin' with that day was one of the four sons of a family that lived just up the way from us, across the street. That family and their house was an endless source of drama and excitement for us kids. I can't remember that guys name, or his family's name, but it was his older brothers who had supposedly perpetrated that rape I mentioned in an earlier post. They were always pullin' somethin', sniffin' glue out in the woods and tryin' to scare the hell out of us younger kids. The best thing about them was their dog. We'll talk.
Anyway, I seem to remember spending most of my time trying to pretend to be either an Indian or a Greek or Roman soldier. These were the fixations I picked up in my time in England, watching cool shows about the ancient world on British public TV. One day, while cleaning out the garden that had been left under the stairs that led up to our sun deck, dad inadvertently contributed something wonderful to my warrior fantasy.
It seems the previous owners of the house had used an old round metal sled as an improvised pond. Dad dug it up out of the garden and laid it aside, thinking he was gonna throw it away. I took one look at it and in a second saw something I could make into a Hoplon. the folks had gotten me a book a long time earlier about famous battles in history, and one of the battles covered in there was the Battle of Thermopylae. there was a great picture in there of the Spartan shield wall, with the soldiers standing in a line, shields locked together, spears poking over towards the enemy. I used to lay in bed at night an stare at that picture, imagining myself in that line.
Now, along with a huge, long pole I'd found in the woods, that old sled, now remade with handles to fit my hand and arm, became central to my fantasy warrior life. I'd march around the neighborhood, having mock combat with friends, seeing myself in my minds eye at the center of that impenetrable shield wall. If you've seen the movie "300", then you know what I'm talking about. I tell ya, my imagination saw no bounds, and the adults on our street got used to seeing me marching around like the Spartans I'd seen in books or on TV. By the time we moved away from there I'd attracted a following of younger kids who loved to play along in my war games.
I actually organized a battle once, in the last summer we lived there. More about that later, and the weird family up the street, and their cool dog. The next post will probably be the last in this series. We'll see. I hope you're enjoyin' it all. I know thinkin' back on it all and retellin' it has been a huge blast for me. Anyway, you guys take care. Cheers.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Got tagged for a meme by Lin over at the Ranch/creek/gas well. After reading her post and checking it out, the idea intrigued me, so here goes. The objective is to answer these fourteen questions with pictures. No words, just pictures. See, pretty cool eh? Here goes...
First off, I gotta say this reminds me of that scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. You know. Dig it...
1. What is your current relationship status?
Monday, May 19, 2008
It's amazing what sand and rocks will do to the engine of a dozer that's been unwisely left out in the open over night when the kids are pissed off that you're cutting down their playground. Can't be good when you pour it in the gas tank and down the muffler. We'll talk.
Anyway, as I said before, my passion in the years between my 9th and 12th years was in these woods. It was paradise to me then, and it still lives and breathes in my memory today. It was my preferred world. there was peace and solitude out there, preferred to the world of my parents, teachers, and most other people. I had very few friends there, but that was normal for me.
Wherever we were, I'd have one or maybe, rarely, two. I'd learned not to get close from having to leave too many behind, following Dad around the world. I'd also learned not to trust other people too easily. There were always other kids around, and we all played and hung out, but they weren't really close friends.
I had two close friends in Missouri... Mike Hinkley and Greg Rogers. Mike and I hooked up almost from day one. I was walkin' out off the dead end road at the end of our street towards the woods and met him comin' the other way. We hit it off somehow and next thing you know we were runnin' buddies.
His dad had been a paratrooper in the World War Two and was really cool, but was never there. In the fall he'd take Mike out hunting squirrels and they'd always come back with cool stories to tell. I was VERY jealous of that, but was never invited. He'd show me the dead critters, pullin' them out of the freezer in their basement (in plastic bags), and I'd just look on with wonder. My dad played golf and wasn't into hunting, or guns, or the woods, so there was less than no chance of he and I having this sort of bonding experience. There'll be more on my lame adolescent hunting attempts later. Sad. Very sad.
I was still out on the edge of the woods when his mom came stompin' out to where we were and told me to tell my mother where she could stick the birthday party. She tried to explain again why Mike hadn't had a party, but of course I was just dumbfounded, shaking my head and sayin' "It wasn't my decision!" I went home to tell mom and next thing I knew Mike and I were officially hating one another and our mom's were trading barbs. Thankfully our dad's never got into it.
We both loved to play soldier, or Indian, and to shoot bows and arrows. We both spent most of our time out of school in the woods. And we were both outside the larger social circle of the neighborhood. As a result we were both seen by the others as misfits. While many of the other kids were busy becoming teenagers, beginning to try to figure out the opposite sex and getting good at competitive sports and all that stuff, he and I were too busy playing in the woods, pretending to be someone else, somewhere else, learning how too shoot a bow.
My mom and dad were always in a snit over whether or not to give me dangerous toys. Mom always opted for caution, but dad always said "Oh what the hell, let him have fun!" He was on my side when it came to that and I never really knew it. Jesus, he'd played with REAL guns when he was my age, so what the hell. He would buy me stuff like Lawn Darts, and quivers full of arrows, including Fred Bear hunting arrows with razor sharp broad heads on them, but because of mom, a BB gun was off limits. You explain that to me. Where guns were concerned, I had to make due with an old air rifle designed to shoot a cork out of the end on a string. We'd tear off the cork, stick the end of the barrel in the dirt, cock it and shoot dirt clods at one another. We wore that thing out!
OK, it wasn't all weird and depressing. We had HUGE fun in those woods. I'll relate some of that next. We'll talk. Cheers.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
I found this recently on the web. The headline was, "The U.S. Civil War continues to kill".
Sam White, a Virginia based collector of Civil War munitions, died recently while cleaning up a nine inch, 75 pound, cannon ball. White had previously restored or examined over 1,500 of these shells. But the one that killed him was different. It was fired from a ship board gun, and was designed to be more waterproof than shells used by land based artillery. This kept the fuse, and black powder explosive charge, dry and viable after 150 years. Mister White was using metal tools to clean up the shell, which apparently set off the fuse, and detonated the shell more than 150 years after it was fired off the Virginia coast.
There are still thousands of Civil War era shells buried, or sitting on the bottom off the coast. But a far more dangerous threat are unexploded munitions from more recent wars, especially the two World Wars. Over a thousand bombs, hand grenades, mines and shells from these conflicts are uncovered each year in Europe alone. Still more are unearthed in Asia and North Africa. People continue to die from the World Wars, and will for decades to come.
I asked my buddy Dave Waters about this. He's a Civil War reenactor, and as you can see from this picture, he has a Civil War cannon ball, with the fuse in tact. That's not him in the picture. That's Kevin Wilson (no relation), who's also stuck in the 19th century. Not really, but you'd think it if you ever went to a Civil War museum with these guys.
Dave said that what kills folks, and it happens now and then, is the hydrogen gas that builds up in the cannon ball from the break down and corrosion of the old black powder in the old bombs. It's not the fuse or the old powder. It's the gas, set off by collectors using tools to open these old munitions, setting off sparks that ignite them. I take him at his word. he knows his shit.
So, don't go diggin' and chippin' away at old shells. You heard it here. later.