Friday, November 28, 2008

Friday stuff.

We went to Pedernales Falls again last weekend. I had the chance to get all the pictures done. They're uploaded to FlickR, so click over there and you can see them all.



This is a shot of the path that leads you to an overlook. You can see the whole falls from there, stretched out in a beautiful panorama.



Here's that view. Click on it to see the larger view. I think I merged about 5 or 6 pictures to get this one.

We got down there by about 8PM last Friday, paid our fee to camp and joined my friends who had been there for hours already. They only had to drive over from Austin, maybe 45 minutes away.

We got our tent and camp set up, cooked dinner, which consisted of pork chops and baked potatoes. Meanwhile, both of us were enjoying a few adult beverages. Denise was drinking Seagram's and &-UP, and I was drinking George Dickel and Diet Coke. I think we both had three tall glasses. Bein' a light weight, by the time we hit the sack, I was just a leeeetle...



Intoxicated... Fucked up.... Very happy! I think I was putting more whiskey in those Cokes than I should have. I can't speak for the little woman. She's got more stamina than I have when it comes to these things. Anyway, I had that really nice, warm, fuzzy feelin' goin' on. It's the same feeling I get sometimes, when I know I need to hand her the car keys. Seein' as how we were campin' though, and all I had to do was find the tent, I figured "what the hell". Yea, I'm a light weight. Easy. She gets me drunk and has her way with me often, but I'm NOT complaining.

The weather was cold that evening, but we do this camping thing up right, so we were very comfortable. We sleep on an air bed, with a goose down duvet covered with fitted sheets, and we have a down comforter to snuggle under. It was cozy as hell, and after filling my gut with good food and downing all that booze, I slept like a log. Denise did too. I think we laid around till almost 1PM Saturday. It was wonderful.



By Sunday, the temperatures had begun to warm up into the low 70s, so when we walked down to the river, it felt great to go wading on the low-water bridge there. I got a little video of the scene. There's no audio with this camera, but you can see the scene.

video

Today, Denise and I are heading up to Dallas. We have a room at the Hyatt, and two tickets to see the Arc Angels at the House Of Blues tonight at 8PM. Click over here to read about all that. I'm really lookin' forward to it. I'll try to take some good pictures and tell you all about it next week.

Saturday, we'll be sleeping in and then heading to Market Hall to attend the huge Gun Show there. My plan is to get myself a big, nice gun safe. I've got some other friends who'll be there too, so It should be fun.

After that we'll be heading over to Ft. Worth and visiting my buddy Jim and his wife Terry. He's gonna help me install the satellite radio receiver Denise got me for my birthday. We haven't seen him since our road trip last August, so it'll be good to hook up again.

Aside from all of that, we've had a great week, celebrating Mom's 81st birthday Wednesday and then going over there for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. Mom had a great birthday, and we all had a great time yesterday. I'll be able to show you the pictures some time next week.

Finally, lets all say a prayer for those poor folks in India. What an amazing, and still unfolding tragedy that is. God bless the victims, and burn the bastards who did it.

So, you guys try to have a great weekend, and we'll talk again later. Cheers!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Turkey Day!



Do what ya gotta do to live through it. I'll eat enough for all of ya. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

That's my mom there, in the middle.



That's her family, sisters and friends, sitting in front of the only house I ever really thought of as home. Her folks, standing there in the background, were the only grandparents I ever knew. That place is gone now, as are all but one of the people in this picture.



Mom has always loved a good time. Here's a crop from a larger picture, WW2 era, showing her in a beefcake pose. I love it! Skinny as hell, from hard work and good, natural food, cooked by my grandmother.



This is us, about 1962, taken at our place in Bermuda, where I was born. We've been close for a LONG time. 48 years. I admit it freely. I'm just a big mamma's boy.



I love this shot. My cousin Bob, who's 13 years older than me, tells people my mom was hot as hell back in the day, like Elizabeth Taylor. I love to hear him say that. I know I learned to love big breasted women partly from watching my mom walk down stairs. She and dad made a good pair, and built a good life together.

Of course, it wasn't all sweetness and light. Draggin' your kids across the world, one move after another, there was a lot of strain and conflict. It wasn't the life she was expecting, growing up on a farm in central Texas. But she and dad made a great life for themselves, and opened up a huge world for their kids, way beyond central Texas.



Today is mom's 81st birthday! Denise and I are gonna go over later and take her out to eat. She's chosen the OG, so that's what it'll be. We'll go to her place after and give her the presents we've bought, and she's promised to fix us some drinks. She'll tell us we shouldn't have spent the money on the presents, but that's the routine. I look forward to it. You know I love her to death. She's my rock.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Finally those shots from Lost Maples.

First off, I want to thank everyone for the nice words and advise after the last few posts. It really means a lot, having such nice folks in my corner. I had a weak moment there, when a lot of self doubt, regret and fear bubbled up out of me. I happens now and then, when I think of all the years that I've wasted trying to be someone else's' idea of a good boy, or just letting the fears of others keep me from doing what everyone else was doing.

I guess I'm wired from my raising to experience a ridiculous level of self doubt, but I'm tryin' to learn to trust myself and not listen to those voices any more than I need to. It's hard to fight against almost 50 years of trainin' sometimes, but it helps to have friends who can snap me out of it when I succumb. So thanks again. It really means a lot.

Anyway, you guys remember me sayin', about two weeks ago, that Denise and I were gonna take a friend of hers to Lost Maples State Natural Area over the weekend? Well, finally, after two weeks, I've managed to find the time, one or two shots here and there, to get these pictures fixed and posted.

As usual, I've chosen a few to show you here, but you can just go over to FlickR and see all of them there. There's about 40 there in all. I hope you enjoy them.

It turned out that the weekend we headed down there was the peak weekend for the color, but the lack of rain this year has supposedly reduced the total amount of color, so the trip to Lost Maples turned out to be somewhat anticlimactic. It turned out that the drive to the park was just as beautiful as the park itself.

On the way to the park, driving West from Kerville, we ran across this huge ranch, with Buffalo and Longhorns grazing in separate fields. Buffalo are something of a strange sight around here, though Texas used to be running over with them. You see them, a few at a time, here and there, but these folks have apparently started their own herd.

Longhorns are less rare, but they're still a special sight to behold. Notice the sprinkling of color in the hills behind the ranch. Beautiful, and very illustrative of the larger picture around here. Lots of green Ceder and Live Oaks, with a few other trees mixed in to provide the color. This is the kind of picture you see driving up any of the western, North/South arteries, like 183 and 281.

To me, and many other Texans, there's nothing else that speaks to the rich, cinematic history of our State like these critters do. Supposedly a mix of early long horned Spanish cattle and English cows that were brought into the state by Anglo settlers in the 1820s, the Texas Longhorn not only symbolizes the rich history of the cattle business in Texas (which began in the 1700s), but also the rich, mixed ethnic heritage of the land as well.

Once we got into the park, which took forever, I ran off with the camera to try to get some good shots before the sun went down behind the hills. I ran off along the trail that takes you up the Sabinal River. It's a beautiful trail, and makes me want to come back some time and camp, so I can take my time to explore the place.

There's a river trail to follow, as well as other trails that campers and hikers use to wander all over the park. We didn't have that sort of time though, so I went off on my own and tried to get whatever shots I could.

These beautiful sights are to be found along the river bed, where the trees get tall and bloom into a mix of wonderful colors. there are cliffs there, and the river is very shallow. You can imagine the early Indians living here, growing corn, fishing in the river and hinting deer and Buffalo as they came in to get water.

If this place is like Enchanted Rock, then there are lots of remains of early people around here, like places where that ground their corn, but the park service keeps the information about those locations secret to prevent desecration.

After I took a bunch of pictures and we'd basically seen what we'd come to see, we drove off, back up North/East towards Kerville, stopping at a big Mexican food joint there in town for dinner. It Was good food.

We got back to Killeen late, and everyone was tired. I'm pretty sure that if I'd told Denise how long a drive it would be before we set off we never would have made the trip. We would have gone to some place like Fredericksburg in stead. Still, I think she enjoyed it. Next time we'll get a camp sight and spend a few nights there. That'll make the whole thing seem less tiring. And I'll get more cool pictures, from more angles.

Well, the library here is gonna close on me pretty soon. I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving. Mom and Denise are both cooking, so you know I'll be having a great time. Mom will celebrate her 81st birthday Wednesday, so we'll take her out to eat somewhere and unload a bunch of presents on her. I'll have most of the week off, so chances are I'll have time to get the pictures done from this past weekend at Pedernales Falls. No guarantees though. Anyway, you guys take care. Cheers!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The other side of the coin...

So, now that I have all that off my chest, let me tell you a few other things. You remember me sayin’ that I showed the kids in the Junior class the Bukowski poem? Well, before I found “Roll the Dice” for them, I showed them this one. It’s called “Freedom”.

he drank wine all night of the
28th, and he kept thinking of her:
the way she walked and talked and loved
the way she told him things that seemed true
but were not, and he knew the color of each
of her dresses
and her shoes-he knew the stock and curve of
each heel
as well as the leg shaped by it.

and she was out again when he came home, and
she'd come back with that special stink again,
and she did
she came in at 3 a.m. in the morning
filthy like a dung eating swine
and
he took out a butchers knife
and she screamed
backing into the rooming house wall
still pretty somehow
in spite of love's reek
and he finished the glass of wine.

that yellow dress
his favorite
and she screamed again.

and he took up the knife
and unhooked his belt
and tore away the cloth before her
and cut off his balls.

and carried them in his hands
like apricots
and flushed them down the
toilet bowl
and she kept screaming
as the room became red

GOD O GOD!
WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?

and he sat there holding 3 towels
between his legs
not caring now whether she left or
stayed
wore yellow or green or
anything at all.

and one hand holding and one hand
lifting he poured
another wine

Most of the kids were quiet after reading that, but some walked away from the computer grinnin’, tellin’ others about it and sayin’ how gross it was. I just said “Ain’t poetry cool?” I hope they get the idea that the world is wider and cooler than Robert Frost. These are my kids, after all. They’re the only kids I’ll ever have. I need to see to it that their minds are opened, just in case their parents aren’t doin’ the job.

That brings me to my main point. I want my friends to know that I’m sorry I laid that depressing rant on them yesterday. That stuff just bubbles up out of me now and then, and I’ve found the blog to be a great place to bare my soul. I mean, mostly I use it to show you happy pictures of the fun we’re having, but now and then I’ll use it to vent. It’s like a really cheap version of group therapy. Anyway, I really don’t have anyone else I feel I can tell that kind of shit to, so you’re elected. Just ignore it if it weirds you out. There’ll be more pretty pictures in a while.

Bottom line, everything is really cool. I had a moment, but it’s gone now and the sun is shining. Denise and I went to the pool hall last night and she watched me play. It was ugly! They keep putting me up against Fives (I’m a Three). I went down in flames. I played decently, but missed enough key shots and ultimately lost every game. Four and out. Can’t feel bad about it, him being a Five and all. It was fun anyway. Two Corona’s with lime and a good cigar, and my woman at my side. What could be better? Well, winning would have ROCKED, but it wasn’t to be, so fuck it!

Last week I beat a five from another team. I won the first game, he won the next three and then I came up and won the fifth game, the rubber match, with a great shot that had everyone on both teams sayin’ shit like “Wow”, and “Great shot!”. It’s fun though, even when I go down in flames like last night, and it felt really good to have my woman there to watch and root me on. Usually she’s working late, or she just doesn’t go, thinking that I need time on my own with the guys.

After we got back to my place I showed Denise the blog post I put up yesterday afternoon and we talked about it. I told her that she doesn’t have anything to worry about, ether with me dumping her and walking away, or with me being steeped in some sort of fatalistic depression and not caring about dying along the road to San Saba. I’m deeply happy with her, and not goin’ anywhere, and I’m usually very careful on the road.

Thing is, you remember that old thing about a coward dying a thousand deaths, but a hero only one? Well, I’ve died a few thousand deaths in my time. I know what that feels like, and I’ll never do that again. When you’ve died like that, a little at a time, over and over again, I guess you loose some of the fear of the real thing. Truth is, if I went out in a blazing car crash tomorrow, all my problems would be over. End of story, so I don’t worry about it. Getting in a crash and becoming a paraplegic, now THAT scares the shit out of me, so I’m mostly careful. But I’m a boomer, so I have to drive fast. That’s the way we roll. And there’s worse ways of going.

I watched my father decline over the space of about a decade, loosing control of his mind and his bowels, and loosing just about every bit of his manhood in the process. I’ll NEVER let myself get like that. And, as I said yesterday, I don’t care to sit back in a comfortable chair in my dotage and watch all the people I love die off on me, so I don’t worry about my own death. Like I said yesterday, I’ll never have Kids and grand kids. There won’t be any little nippers bouncing on my knee when I’m in my 60s or 70s, so I don’t worry about my own mortality. It doesn’t matter.

Now, having said all that, I’m having the best time of my life these days. I’m actually happier than I can ever remember being. Denise and I are having a blast! We’re going camping this weekend at Perdenales Falls, and then going to a concert and Gun Show in Dallas the weekend after Thanksgiving. The weekend after that will consist of a long, 10 or 12 hour solo drive to Nashville and a few nights spent there attending a cool Civil War gun show and visiting with friends, and then another crazy 10 or 12 hour drive home on the Sunday. I really don’t have time to be depressed. I’m having too much friggin’ fun. So don’t worry about me. I’m fine. I’m just carryin’ a lot of shit around from the past, and some times it has to spill over. Forgive me for getting some of it on you now and then. Cheers.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Teachin'.

I had an emotional morning today. I was in my third period high school class, the Juniors, when one kid came to me with another teachers assignment. His English teacher had given her class Robert Frost's classic poem, "The Road Not Taken", and she wanted them to write down what they thought it was about. They asked me what I thought it was about, and I told them. if you haven't read it in a while, here it is.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

I told them it was about taking the reigns of your own life. Going your own way. Making the scary, unexpected or unconventional choice and finding a rich reward. Make your own trail in the world, and you'll find a path that's more interesting.

Reading the poem and thinking about it, I was reminded of another. A long time ago I posted a video, stealing it from this guy. I loved it then, and it resonates even more to me now. I looked for it on the computer in the class room for about 20 minutes, frustratedly wading through sites that were blocked by the schools system. Finally, I found it, printed on some poetry page, and I had the kids come up to the computer and read it. It's called "Roll The Dice", by Charles Bukowski. Here's that video I posted before.



After class, as I was driving off out of the parking lot, headed for my next class in San Saba, and I found myself in tears, sobbing uncontrollably. Reading that stuff again brought back a lot of feelings that I usually hide behind a facade of confidence. It hit me this time, seeing these kids, with their whole lives ahead of them, opening their eyes to things that I didn't really become aware of until very recently.

It hit me, like a baseball bat in the gut. You could say I was feeling sorry for myself again if you want to, thinking that I haven't ever taken the road less traveled, or really risked anything. "No killer instinct", as a friend would say. It brought up all the old shit about how much of my life I've wasted, being safe and comfortable and avoiding life, whatever the cause.

All the regrets washed over me again. Now that I've woken up, I see clearly what I could have been, and it haunts me. I'll never have my youth again. I'll never have kids, or grand kids. I have a wonderful woman now who loves me deeply, but I'll always regret all the years when I should have been out there, learning who I am and what I want, risking things and living a full life.

Part of me feels compelled to chuck everything away and "roll the dice" to see what's out there in the world now, but I'm 48 years old! I've pissed away the dice rolling years, and they can never be brought back. I find myself now, holding tightly to this wonderful woman who loves me, and looking forward to a time when we can both retire and have some sort of good life together. Isn't that what I'm supposed to be doing at my age?

I tell myself that the time for picking a new trail is past me. I'm on this road to San Saba now, having finally achieved what I've always wanted on a professional basis. I'm a real Professor now, looking at another fifteen years of hard work, and then maybe retirement and some time to relax after that.

If I'm lucky I'll still have this woman who loves me, cooking for me, or I'll be cooking for her. We'll take turns, like we do now, and our love will continue to grow. But despite all that, there'll be a day come when I'll be the only old geezer in the home with no cool stories to tell. I'll sit back then, like I do now, listening to guys talk about their adventures and I'll try not to let anyone know what a looser I've been.

I think sometimes about what could happen to me in the next fifteen years. Anything is possible. The world could still be my oyster, but chances are I'll be drivin' up here to teach some day, zippin' along at about 75, and some stupid shit will go wrong. Odds are it'll ether be a drunk, or a cow in the road, or I'll probably end up swervin' into a guard rail while I'm tryin' to light a cigar. That's already almost happened once. You know, shit happens!

It would really suck, but it'd also keep me from having to listen to and think about all that old crap any more. I wouldn't need to pretend any more. What's better I wouldn't have to spend the next twenty years sitting back and watching as all of my best friends and family slowly die on me. You know, that's what really sucks about being the baby... Looking forward to being alone some day with my memories. Funny, but I find that not really giving a shit is kinda liberating.

Anyway, the library is gonna close on me, so I guess I'd better shut down this depressing rant and go show the jail birds how badly they did on their first Government exam. If one of those fuckers shanks me over it, it's been real. Cheers!

Oh HELL no!



Therer's no friggin' way! You see how high up they are. Sheeeeit!

Monday, November 17, 2008

The drive to San Saba.



I've measured my drive, four days a week, and it turns out to be a 150 mile round trip. So it's good that it's such a pretty drive. Goin' up 183 from Florence is probably the prettiest part of the trip. There are lots of beautiful trees turning a mix of wonderful colors along the rivers and creeks that flow under the road now and then, and then wide prairie vistas like the one above.



There are a few big cattle ranches and small farms along the way, with windmills pumpin' water up out of the aquifer for the cattle. These things used to be a normal site along the roads of Texas. When I was a kid and we were driving back home from Missouri to see my grandparents, or wherever we were living. My sister and I would kill time by counting the windmills. There are fewer of them now, with city water and power systems spreading further out into the countryside.



About fifteen minutes after turning West off 183, getting back on 190 just north of Lampasas, you'll cross the county line dividing Lampasas and San Saba counties. Those counties are divided by the Colorado River, and there's a cool old bridge over that river, and a historical marker on the road on the Lampasas side.



This historical marker tells the story of a mill and cotton gin that was once here on the river from the mid 1870s to 1915. That's the mill stone the marker is mounted on. The marker says that the mill was a central location here, with power provided by the course of the river and a water wheel. Local folks would bring their lumber to be cut, or their corn to be ground, or their cotton to be "ginned".

When we talk about Cotton Gins, the term "Gin" is short for "Engine". A Cotton "Gin" was actually a "Cotton Engine", but folks always shortened the name, giving it a masculine connotation because it was operated by men. The very first industrial machine, the "Spinning Jenny", basically a set of spinning wheels operated by one person, was introduced in Britain in the 1700s. In that case the term "Engine" was reduced to "Jenny", because the machines were operated by young girls.

Anyway, while the customers of this mill waited for their turn at the wheel they would swim and fish here, where a dam had been constructed to move the course of the river through the water wheel. Eventually a hotel was built, but the course of the river shifted in the early 20th century and the whole place fizzled out.



The view from the bridge is pretty. You're looking down stream here. The Colorado is one of the most important rivers in Texas. It's been dammed several places, creating the Highland Lakes, providing water for farmers and ranchers in the hill Country, as well as city folks along the way. It was our version of the TVA. The river flows down through the hill country to Austin, where a dam turns it into Lady Bird Lake. Eventually the water flows down into the Gulf Of Mexico.



You're looking up stream here. Just beyond sight is the place where the San Saba river flows into the Colorado. My buddy Ellis, who owns a long stretch of that river bank, tells me that there's an old pecan tree there at the confluence of those two rivers that's very important to the local folks. He says that's the spot where the local pecan industry began. The thin, paper shell pecans that grow all around here started with that one tree, which was grafted by an early settler.



When you drive into San Saba you are welcomed by signs advertising the local pecan industries, and welcoming hunters to the rich game available in the area. It'll be fun, over the next 15 years, seeing how much of the local fun I can get myself into. I'll keep ya posted. Cheers!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

Well, it's Friday....

And here I am at the library in San Saba, waitin' to give a test. I had to come in today to make up for the week we lost a while back due to the lock-down. It's no big deal really. I've had fun.

One of my new colleagues out here is a nice guy named Roger Ellis. He's a local boy, born and raised here. He's got about 400 acres of land he's inherited out here near the jail, including a nice stretch of pecan bottom along the San Saba river. He's got a few kids in the local schools and a newly EX wife around here somewhere. He ways he and some of his buddies, all divorced, like to get together out at the river on the weekends with a pickup load of beer and get wide, havin' a good old time, commiserating' over one anothers troubles. Sounds like fun to me.

Anyway, he came and got me today when my noon class ended at about 2:30 and drove me out to check out his property. As we drove out of the parking lot I was concerned that my cigar might bother him, but I think he was more concerned that I'd be upset to see him pull a beer out of the cooler in the back of his SUV. Sheeeit, I told him to hand me one and we set off to explore the country he's ranged over all his life. It was fun as hell!

Of course, not knowing where we were goin', I didn't think to take the camera out of the car, but we'll do it again some time and I'll get lots of cool shots to show ya.

One of the things we talked about along the way was the nature of his position with CTC, the college we both work for. I tried to give him whatever information I had, from 18 years of experience, on how things were gonna work out for him. He's only been teaching at the jail for about three semesters, so he's kinda new at all this. He's got an insurance business too.

Anyway, I gotta go. the library is closing. Cheers!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now it's Saturday, so I have a chance to end this right. I had to work in San Saba last night so Denise was gonna go get mom and take her out, but mom begged off. She said she was feelin' puny again. Makes me worry, but there's nothin' I can do.

I filled up in Lampasas on the way home. $1.75 a gallon! About $23 bucks to fill up the tank. Woohooo!

After I got back to Denise's place I found her on the phone with her daughter (the one you saw in the Florida shots). She was crying, frustrated that she can't be there in Kentucky as her daughters marriage falls apart. I hugged her a lot and tried to make her feel better. We sat around watching TV, her having a 7&7 and me drinking a beer, snacking, and then we hit the sack.

We rolled around, waking up slowly this morning, and then she got up and fixed me breakfast. Three eggs and about six slices of bacon, and now she's at the hair dresser. We're goin' to a wedding this afternoon, and then a reception at a nice hotel in town. Free food and booze!

There might be a trip to a gun show in Austin Sunday, but we'll probably blow that off (goin' to a BIG one in Dallas next weekend) and spend the day movin' back into my place and relaxing.

You guys have a great weekend and we'll talk again soon. Cheers!

BOOM!



Now THAT looks like some fun! Boys and their toys.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Still pooped, but gettin' used to it.

Still haven't had time to work on pictures. Maybe this weekend. Still mostly checkin' emails and posting from the library here in San Saba. My own computer has lost sound. Not sure what that's all about, but I don't have time to mess with it anyway.

I'll be driving back out here again Friday and stayin' late. I have to make up for the week we lost due to the lock down, so Denise will be drivin' over to Temple to take Mom out to eat and I'll connect with her after I get out of here.

We're goin' to a wedding Saturday. A friend of Denise from work is having a small, quiet thing. I'll be escorting the little woman, and drinking heavily at the reception.

And then maybe I'll go to a gun show in Austin Sunday. Still up in the air. I'm goin' to a big show the weekend after Thanksgiving so I don't feel the need to drive down to Austin for this one, unless someone else wants to go. I have a few friends who want me to help them pick out a new Kalashnikov, now that the current unpleasantness has descended on us. We'll see what happens.

Now, here's a few funny things from the new gig:

I'm handing out paper to one class one day when I notice that the Perp in the desk at the front of the last row has an issue with his finger. The tip of his index finger, down to the first knuckle, is stained with a brown substance, with a few flecks of the same darker brown substance encrusted around the finger nail.

Nope, it wasn't chocolate!

I know. NASTY! Well, I can't say that I haven't scratched myself a bit too thoroughly once or twice in my life and come up with a present, but WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE!

Also, I've noticed ever since starting to work there that the guards who pat down the Perps and check their books and papers as they leave class are wearing rubber gloves.

I have to hand out pencils to all the kiddies before each class and take them up again at the end of class. So where the fuck are my rubber gloves? I'm just sayin'.

Gas in Lampasas is now down to $1.83 a gallon! I'll fill up on the way home tonight (on the way to the pool hall I should say), and it'll take less than $30! Sweet! I've found I'm Burnin about a third of a tank for a round trip... From home to Florence, Florence to San Saba, and then San Saba to home again. Thank God for the gas money they're payin' us!

Finally, I've been getting some great fortunes in my fortune cookies lately. Thought I'd share. You remember what you add to the end of the message? I'll highlight it. Enjoy.

"The man who has no imagination has no wings, in the sack!"

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted, in the sack!"

And finally, "The really great man is the man who makes everyone feel great, in the sack!"

I can attest to all of that. Can you? Anyway, that's it folks! I wanna wish a happy belated Veterans Day to all my buddies out there. You know who you are. Consider yourselves hugged, picked up and shook around. Mushy'll tell ya what it's like. I love you all. Cheers!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Slowly gettin' used to San Saba.

Well, the first week of the new gig is over and everything is turnin’ out fine. I don’t even mind the drive, for the most part. I’ve taken some pictures of the scenery along the way, and I’ll post them when I get the chance.

When I got to the unit on that first Monday I was a bit nervous. I guess it was a cross between the feelings that always come with a new job and the realization of where I was, and who I was gonna be closed in a room with for several hours. But almost as soon as I got there those feelings began to melt away. They were shoved aside by the growing sense of familiarity (I‘ve taught at prisons before, but it’s been a while), and the confidence I’ve developed from having done this sort of thing SO many times in the past.

When it comes to teaching these classes, I’ve been a hired gun for 18 years. I’d teach wherever and whenever they’d pay me. I was like a deer in headlights when I sat in front of my first class in march of 1990, tied up to the pier in Naples, Italy on board the USS Thorn, but by the time that Destroyer sailed back into it’s home port 4 ½ weeks later (Charleston, South Carolina, past the ruins of Ft. Sumter), I was already seeing myself as a pro. In truth, It was a few more ships before I really knew what I was doing, but that first trip on the Thorn boosted my professional confidence and left me feeling I could tackle anything on that level. The personal stuff was gonna have to wait, but that’s another long story. Thank God for great friends!

Anyway, I got to San Saba on time Monday and had to go through security in order to get into the building and get to class. Ever since the lock down they’ve instituted new, stricter security measures, tryin’ to keep the “contraband” out of the jail. No more cell phones for death Row inmates! So, before going in, I emptied my pockets of all such suspect items into a floppy hat in my trunk. Away with my pocket knife, change, thumb drive, torch lighter, and cell phone. I felt friggin’ naked! I grabbed my stack of syllabi for the classes and walked around to the front door.

It turned out that the security there is very much like the stuff you go through when you’re getting on an airplane these days, only the people maintaining it seem a lot less serious. The airport folks act like they’re doing something important, which they surely are. But these folks act like the new measures are a temporary pain in the ass that will soon be relaxed when the smoke clears from this recent unpleasantness.

When you go in the door you have to empty your pockets into a little plastic bucket, walk through a scanner (metal detector), take your shoes off and shake them out (thank God I wear slip-ons), and spread your arms and legs out for a pat down. It’s all done in good humor, but it’s still a pain in the ass. You should have seen the dude picking up my car keys and checking out my cigar cutter that first day. Clearly he’d never seen one before. I told him what it was and everything was cool. I think he was afraid it was a knife, or maybe a pill case.

After that, after putting your shoes back on, you go to the window, hand the lady behind the THICK glass your ID through a thin slot, and then you sign in. You have to sign in so that if there’s a riot and the inmates take over the place the authorities will know who the hostages are. Pleasant though, eh? It’s not likely, so I don’t worry about it.

Then you go through the first in a series of heavy doors with steel bars and magnetic locks, released by the lady (did I say short, fat lady?) behind the THICK glass. They let you in the first door and then wait for it to shut and lock behind you before opening the next. I’m told lots of folks have a bad feeling when they hear the steel doors closing behind them and the locks deploying, but it doesn’t bother me. You go through two control gates like that on the way in, and then you come back out the same way.

On the way in you have to learn when to make a left turn and when to make a right. It’s like a maze in there. Pretty soon you find yourself waking down a long hall between the prisoners dorms. The guy who briefed Dave and I about what we’d find in San Saba made us think we were gonna be subjected to all sorts of unpleasant sights and sounds. We’d get to see the inmates on the shitter, or naked in the shower, etc.

It turns out you really have to concentrate to see what the hell is goin’ on in there. The windows are small, and you’re not in that hallway for more than a few seconds. I didn’t realize where I was the first day. I was too busy finding my way to the education building. It was the second day, when I’d begun to know where I was, that I looked up and saw the bunk beds and showers, but thankfully, no one was in them.

It turns out it’s very easy to ignore the sights and sounds. I find myself more amazed by the presence of female guards in the all male prison unit. All I saw the first day were middle aged men, some of whom are pretty stout lookin’ dudes. Of course, that’s what you’d expect in a place where young men are incarcerated. But the second day I saw one woman manning a desk on the dorm unit, managing the flow of inmates to and from the dorms. The third day the chicks were everywhere!

Now, when I say “chick”, realize were not talkin’ centerfold material. These are some beefy, serious lookin’ woman. I wouldn’t want to get into a tussle with any of them. Thinkin’ about it, some ACLU lawyer might actually have a case for “Cruel and Unusual Punishment”. After all, these guys are locked up with a bunch of other guys for a long time, and then THESE are the woman they get to look at? Daym!

When I finally got into the education building I was guided to the office where I picked up my box. They provide us with a plastic box to take to our classroom each day, a new one for each class. the box contains notebook paper, pencils bound together with a rubber band, and our role for that class. once you get there the guards send for the "students".

The most tedious thing about this new job, aside from three hours or so on the road four days a week, is having to hand out sheets of paper to each class (I've got three), and then having to hand out pencils, and then having to take the pencils up and count them at the end of class to make sure the "students" don't take one with them back to the "dorm". Aside from that, teaching these classes is proving to be very much like teaching classes anywhere else.

It's more like the high school than ft. Hood though. I rarely have to tell the folks on the base to "Shush!", them being grown-ups and all. But once I start lecturing, usually they pay pretty close attention and seem interested. We'll see how things go when they take their first exams in a week or so.

So, I'm off to the races. This is gonna be my gig for about the next fifteen years. It'll all seem a lot better, to the extent that it's bad at all, once the paychecks start rolling in on a regular basis. That should happen on the 15th.

Well, that's enough for now. later on I'll tell you about the fun stuff I've found to do in San Saba between classes. Here's a hint... There ain't much there. They have a Sonic, a Dairy Queen and a Subway. There isn't even any Chinese food too be had! Can you believe that? Anyway, we'll talk. Cheers!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Friday.

This'll be a short one.

With this new job and all the driving I hardly have any time to scratch my ass, much less check emails, post around here or read any of your blogs. Please forgive me for that. In a week or so things will start to even out again. I've found a library in San Saba where I can sit for about two hours, two days a week and get stuff done. I'm also toying with the idea of getting a lap top. I took the time this morning in Florence to work up a long post that's set up to go out Monday, telling you all about this new job in San Saba. It's been an interesting week. I hope you'll enjoy it.

I've got to go to San Saba today to teach a make-up class, to make up for the week we lost because of the state wide lock down. After that I'll be joining Denise and her old frond Joan, who's driven in from Kentucky this week, and we'll all be going to Temple to eat dinner. A few of my cousins and my aunt and uncle are gonna join us, Mom included, for dinner at BJs. It should be a fun time.

Denise and I will celebrate our birthdays on Saturday. We were born on the same day, eight years apart. Go figure that. Handy eh? So we're gonna take Joan down to Austin and show her the wonders of Pappasito's. Then were gonna travel further southwest and take her to Lost Maples State Natural Area. I should say, I'll be taking both Denise and Joan, because Denise has never been there ether. I hiked there a few times back in the early 90s and remember it as being very beautiful.

Mushy's been postin' all these great fall foliage shots lately, makin' me jealous of the natural beauty he's surrounded by. So I'm gonna take advantage of the weekend and get a road trip goin' down to a part of Texas that looks like that. The part I know about anyway. I'll post the pictures some time, after I get them fixed.

There's no tellin' when that'll be though. Like I said, I'm busy as hell these days, and my home computer is about worthless. If I had a car like this I'd set it on fire and leave it burnin' on the side ot the road! So I'm postin' this from work on the base, and checkin' emails from the library in San Saba two days a week. So bare with me.

Anyway, you folks take care and have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Flyin' home first class.

We got to the airport and found out that we were gonna fly Business class, which is first class to most folks. It was quite a surprise, since we'd picked the cheapest tickets we could. They must have bumped us up. Who knows. I've flown business class before, flying back from ships when I used to go boating with the Navy. It's plush. You should all try it some time.



We started drinking while we waited for our plane to board. That's a "Shandy" on the right, and a lager on the left. Not a Yuengling though. They didn't have it at the airport. Can't remember what I had. Not memorable.



After killin' off that beer I tried their special "Manhattan". You were supposed to decide whether you wanted a red one or a blue one, because of the election. You can see how I butter my muffin.



The drinking continued as soon as we got on the plane. A stewardess leaned over the chairs in front of us and asked "Would you like some refreshments?" We looked at each other like naughty kids, and Denise asked if they has Segram's. Her booze of choice is always a 7&7, but this time she settled for a Canadian Club and Sprite. My drink was just a Rum and Coke. Free of charge, thank you very much.



Look at those little feets, not even long enough to touch the floor.



Mine on the other hand, were sprawled out like never before. I stretched them out and could just barely touch the back of the seat in front of me. I've never had this much leg room on a plane before in my life.



It was like bein' at home in the recliner. You punched a button and a foot rest folded up from under the seat. There was another button to adjust lumbar support, and another one to lean the seat back to almost a horizontal level.



Before we had a chance to get that comfortable though, the stewardess came by with lunch. We had turkey, pepperoni and Brie, with Jacob's Cream Crackers (eh Shrinkie?), Milano cookies, fruit and veggies, and a glass of water. Before the meal, or maybe after (I can't remember), they came by with hot, wet hand towels. It was all VERY civilized.



After the meal we reclined back and opened up the arm rest. Turned out there was a TV in there, and a remote on a cord attached to the inside of the arm rest. We each had or own little TV, and there were at least 5 or 6 different movies or shows being played on different channels. I was watching the latest remake of "Brideshead Revisited".



While all this went on we flew out over the Gulf Of Mexico, but soon we were back over dry land and headed for Houston. After a short layover there, spent in the sports bar, watching football games and drinking more adult beverages, we boarded a 737 for the short trip to Austin. That flight was first class too, but the difference between that flight and the one on the 767 was amazing.

There was less of everything. It was still better than coach, particularly considering the squalling baby that kept up a steady screech from take-off to landing. I think If I'd a been back there with that kid you might have seen my face in the news. Headline would read "Fat hairy bastard looses it on flight from Houston to Austin tying towel around face of 3 year old, and then beating kids parents severely, putting them in hospital."

We landed in Austin and headed strait for Pappasito's. The food was wonderful, and the drinks flowed. After that it was a smooth drive north to the hearth and home.



By the time we got to the house it was about 9Pm. The cats were VERY happy to see Denise. Me, they tolerate. She, they love. We dropped everything, crawled into bed and hit the sack. The alarm was set for 6:30AM. It would have been nice to have a day to detox, but it wasn't in the cards.

Well, that was it. Cheers!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Brits.

Of course, the reason why we went to Florida was to see Denise's Brother, sister-in-law, and the sister-in-laws family. Denise's eldest daughter drove down with her kids, so Denise got to spend a preciously short amount of time with her family. Of course, I love seein' these folks too, so even though it was short, expensive and tiring, I was lookin' forward to the trip too.


When we got there on the Friday, Denise's brother Martin was already there with his in-laws and a niece.


At one point, the niece started to play around with some hair pieces, pinning them on me and everyone else.


Blissfully, I failed to get any pictures of myself with the hair on, but I made sure I got some good shots of Martin. We all thought he looked like Ozzy Ozborn.


Martin's father-in-law Mick, a head banger from WAY back, looked like a natural.



I particularly loved this shot of Denise and Martin, chillin' on Friday night.


One of the things we did was sit around and watch that AC-DC DVD that I picked up at Wally World. It's always fun to watch Mick and his wife Irene bang their heads in bliss when this sort of music comes on. I love gettin' them in my car and turnin' up the volume.


They're all some two fisted drinkers, I wanna tell ya. I have to pace myself to keep up. Of course, coming from England, where the beer has a higher alcohol content, they're used to the hard stuff. Bunch of Guinness drinkers. They think our stuff is watered down.

That's Martin's wife, Carolyn, sitting between them there. She flew in Saturday.



It was a full house by Saturday night, after Carolyn flew in, with another teenager (the girl in the middle). She was some friend of thew family.


Yep, I was drinkin' too. We'd found Yuengling at Wally World and picked up a few 6-packs.



In the end, before we flew out on Sunday we celebrated Carolyn's birthday and fixed everyone breakfast burritos. Turned out they were a bunch of picky eaters. Some wanted no egg, and others wanted no cheese. I tell ya, they don't know what's good.

Next, I'll tell ya about the flight home. Cheers!

Oh yea, the election. Well, I did my part. I torn now between feelings of pride in seeing the process working, and pride in seeing a Black man elected president some 40 years after Martin Luther King's death. But I'm also pissed off that so many people made such an obviously bad choice.

I'm also pissed off that all we conservatives had to vote for was John McCain. The Republican party is broken folks. It needs to get back to it's roots and figure some shit out, or these assholes are gonna be running the country for another 40 years, like they did in the old days. God help us then.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I'm just sayin'...

Good riddence!



And, by the way, I got home from San Saba last night and realized the Earthlink mailbox was full and rejecting emails. I cleared it, so it should be working fine now. I'm sorry if anything you sent was sent back. I don't have as much time, or really a convenient time to check that thing these days. The classes in San Saba went well. No problems. I'll talk about it in another post.

lets hope things turn out well today. Regardless, this too will end. Cheers!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Pictures from Florida.

The place we stayed at is a time share that Denise's British relatives have in Orlando. It's with the same company that runs our time share in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Very nice, and very comfortable. Fore more pictures, click here.



It was cool to see all the palm trees everywhere.



Of course, we have these in Texas, but mostly down in the valley, about half a days drive from where I live.



A buddy of mine has a tall Palm in his yard. I've been thinkin' about it myself.



Not long after getting there we decided to go to Wally World. We needed sandwich fixins. We also planned to make everyone breakfast burritos Sunday morning, so we got eggs, bacon and sausage, and a bag of big tortillas.



I also picked up the new AC-DC and Mettalica CDs, and the new "directors cut" AC-DC DVD. Denise's brothers In-Laws are head bangers from WAY back, so we enjoyed watchin' that DVD Friday night. You can see that I brought a nice stash of cigars for the trip too.



The place we spent most of our time during the weekend was the pool. It was just a short walk from the condo.



Denise's eldest daughter Chantel drove down from Kentucky with her kids, so we spent Saturday swimmin' with them. That littlest one, Colin, is a fish. He used my goggles Saturday (that's them he's wearin'), until he and his mom went to Wally World later that day and he got a mask and snorkel set.

The other young man there, Bryce, is a Freshman in high school. When he's not playing in the pool with his brother, he's mostly aloof, sitting off to himself, getting occasional text messages and calls from unknown friends. He's at the age where you get the impression he's putting up with you, but would rather be somewhere else. I can remember feeling that way myself, though I can also remember being a lot like the young Colin.



It was a great time. I spent about half my time in the water, tossin' Colin around, and then the other half sitting in the shade. These Brits love the sun, but I know how to find shade and stay in it.



The pool had a cool little Tiki bar that served adult beverages to the folks who were relaxing in the sun, and those of us who were relaxing in the shade.



The first time a waitress came to me I asked her if they had Yuengling on tap, and they did.



So, as I said, I spent about half my time sitting in the shade, drinking a Yuengling off the tap and smoking a cigar. It was a wonderful, relaxing time.



Sunday, as Denise and I were getting ready to fly home, little Colin was submerged in solitude, trying out his new mask and snorkel.

Next post, the Brits. Denise and her folks. Cheers!