Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Had a busy fourth.

As usual, it started on Friday. Denise and I got up early and she finished packing for her trip. I drove her down to Austin and put her on the 11:45 flight to Wisconsin. She was going up there for the weekend to attend a baby shower for her youngest daughter who's expecting in September.

After seeing her off on the trip I made a few stops in Austin, checkin' out a few things, and then I headed home. I got the idea along the way to stop for lunch at the new Genghis Grill, Mongolian Stir Fry place in Harker Heights. Denise had found a brochure for it on her windshield last week and looking through it, I'd decided I needed to check the place out. But Denise isn't into spicy food, so I figured I'd check it out on my own. And it turned out to be really good.

When you go in, the waitress asks you what you want to drink and brings you a small metal bowl. Then you begin your journey down the buffet line, only all the stuff on the line is raw! You start with a selection of about a dozen proteins. You chose between the meats you want and spoon them into your bowl. Then you choose between about a dozen spices, another two dozen veggies, and then you pick the sauces you want. Then you hand it all over to the cook and tell them if you want ether steamed rice, fried rice, Udon noodles, spiral pasta or tortillas. The cook pours the contents of your bowl out on a large metal wheel where six or seven others toil away, and he stir-fries your meal. In a few minutes he shovels the finished product into a large red plastic bowl and your waitress brings it to you.

I was new to this process, so I ended up filling my bowl mostly with proteins from the start of the line. I had chicken, ham, shrimp, crab, and calamari filled up to the edge of my bowl. Then I tossed in a few spoon fulls of pepper. Then I squished all that down a bit so I could spoon on some cilantro and pineapple slices, and topped it off with an egg. I filled another small black bowl with my sauces... Island Teriyaki and Honey Soy, and handed it all the the chef, telling him I'd have fried rice with it. The end results were wonderful, and very spicy. I was sweatin' like crazy and my sinuses were cleared. I can't wait to go back.

After that I went back to the house and piddled around for a few hours, sittin' in front of this thing. I took the time to start reading some blogs, catching up with folks that I usually don't have time to keep up with any more. It seemed that in no time it was time to head East and pick up mom. The plan was to eat Chinese food at the regular place. I drove over, got my laundry from the dry cleaners and headed for mom's house.

When I got there I found that sis was going with us and plans had changed. They decided to go to BJs in stead of Dynasty. Sis has never been, so mom decided we might as well go, so we did. It was great, as usual. Mom had a salad and then half a sandwich from the lunch menu, sis had fish tacos and I went with some shrimp and pasta. It was all good, and after eating I took the ladies back to moms place and did some chores.

Mom has a tree/bush next to the front door of the house that was in need of pruning. I got the ladder out of the garage and went to it. Then she and I picked up the cuttings and that was that. Then I went upstairs and fixed my sister's toilet. The rubber hose had come unattached from the gizmo that refills the bowl with water. Took me about a minute to figure out what was up and fix it. No worries. I think I installed the works in that thing years ago, so it was easy to figure out.

After that we sat around and chatted for a bit, and then I hit the road. I went over to Academy Sports and Outdoors and looked at the prices on some new running shoes. Yea, I'm thinkin' about takin' up runnin' again. I need to do something. Prices ranged from $29.95 to well over $100.oo. Can't imagine someone payin' that much for athletic shoes. In the end I decided to wait. No nead to get the shoes now. I'll wait till the eagle shits a few more times and the bank account is a little richer. Truthfully, I bought cigars and concert tickets instead. Priorities.

After that I drove downtown to a pub in Temple, sat at the bar and smoked a cigar. They poured me a Pauliner Hefewiezen from one of the 40ish taps and I sat and watched a Ranger game. You know, the friggin' Texas Rangers have been winnin' ever since we went to that game. Bastards.

Saturday morning I set the alarm for about 8:30 and headed for Belton, arriving just in time for the annual Fourth of July parade.

Not having ether Dad or Denise to take care of, I parked down at the end of the parade rout and walked it's length toward the spot where my cousin's and my uncle usually sit.

When I got there I was surprised to see that none of them were there. They'd ether decided not to come or overslept.

So, I found a place in the shade under an awning and watched the parade.

There were the regular folks riding along, driving motorcycles, four wheelers, dune buggies and tractors, all mixed in with folks on horseback and in horse drawn wagons.

At one point this huge John Deere 9030 series tractor rolled by. I decided I needed a picture for Bruno. Sorry dude, but all I had on me was the phone.

At some point a new little friend walked up and my attention was distracted away from the parade.

He had a flea collar, so I assume he belongs to someone. He kept trying to get into the door of the building I was standing next to, so I assume they're feeding him. Sure was a cutey though. I picked him up to keep the little kids there from scaring him and pulling on his tail.

He laid down on my arm and went fast asleep. Even the loudest motorcycles, muscle cars and dune buggies didn't disturb him. I think he was the tamest little kitty I've ever handled. My house cats would have been hittin' the hills, just at the sight of all the people.

The regular folks all showed up for the parade. The Shriners rode by in their little cars and go carts.

I've always thought it would be fun to join an organization like the Shriners... but I don't fit in those little cars. Love the fez though. May have to go there some day.

Now here's my choice for a ride. Very cool. Wish I'd had the camera and could show you a better shot. It was a very cool, tricked out dune buggy. Ether that or the Dodge Challenger that I didn't get a picture of. Yea, that's the ticket.

As the parade came to an end I had to decide whether or not this new little friend of mine was gonna be cat number seven. I sat there with him in my lap as the parade gave way to the clean-up. All the folks there told be that he'd been there as long as they had, since very early in the morning. I have to assume that he lives there, and that the people there are feeding and taking care of him.

After laying quietly on my arm for an hour or so, he came alive when the parade ended and people began to scatter and the clean-up crew came out. The street sweeping machines came by and he hit the bushes. I decided that was my chance to make an exit. If he'd tried to follow me I would have had to pick him up and these other six would have a new little brother.

But when he hit the bushes, scared by the noise the street sweepers were making, I made my exit. I walked all the way down the other end of the parade route and drove back to Harker Heights to find my friends who were competing in a chili cook-off. I found them at the local VFW hall, or rather, out back in the field behind the VFW hall.

I sat down with them chewed the fat for a while. These are the same folks we went to the food show with a week ago. Before I left I walked over to the pavilion and got a cheeseburger the vets were selling there for $2. It was a good little burger too. After that I made my exit, driving back home. I needed to cook some food and head south to the home of some friends who were having a Fourth of July pool party Saturday evening.

I threw together some ham and cheese kolaches, and while they were in the oven I grilled some chicken, cutting three breast pieces into smaller bits and then covering them in General Tso's sauce. The kolaches are always popular, and the chicken bits turned out to be popular too. I don't think anyone can beat the General's sauce.

The pool party was a great time. The salt water pool ended up being full of kids and grand kids, so I decided to bide my time sitting up with the grownups, drinking adult beverages and eating party food. By the time the brisket and sausage came off the grill we were all stuffed. Of course, that didn't stop me. One of the guys there, Joe, a retired Army pilot, told hilarious stories from his years in Vietnam. I love hearing that sort of stuff.

He told us one story about his first flight over on a Braniff jet. He says the jet blew and engine and couldn't take off from Hawaii, so they all were put up in a hotel by the airline. They kept having to show up in the morning to see if the plane was fixed, but it never was, They figured out that if they stayed in the hotel and ordered all their food and booze on the room, Braniff would pick up the tab. They had a great few days and nights, but then the airline flew in another plane and they all continued their journey to Vietnam.

He told another one about something that happened to him when he was training in Georgie to fly slow, low flying, two seat spotter planes for the army (he'd flown Hueys in his first tour). He said that the Navy jets were supposed to fly at a higher level and the army slow movers would fly at a lower level so the two would never interfere with one another. He said he looked up one day and found a Navy F-4 Phantom on his wing, practically blotting out the sky.

The huge fighter was flying at the lowest limit of it's capability, all flaps and landing gear down. His instructor, who'd come close to falling asleep in the back seat, woke up with a start and tried to contact someone on the radio. Joe says that when the Navy pilot saw the back seat guy wake up he flipped the both of them off, hit the afterburner, raised his landing gear and zoomed off in a flash. You should have seen the gleam in Joe's eyes as he told these stories. I loved it!

The party broke up and I left there at about 8:30PM. I headed home, but only briefly. I stayed just long enough to grab a cigar and a CD and headed over to the West side of town to park and watch the fireworks display from Ft. Hood. I tossed the CD, Dark Side Of The Moon, into the player and drove over to a spot I usually got to on these occasions. I parked, turned off the engine so that the music could keep playing, I pushed back the seat, opened the sunroof and watched to thirty minute display. Would you believe, it seemed that the fireworks were almost set to the music. It's always fun.

After that I drove home. I talked to Denise and told her about everything. She was having fun too, but looking forward to being home. I picked her up in Austin at 11:15 Sunday morning. I told her to show up with an appetite, planning to take us to Pappasito's on the way home. The lunch there was wonderful, as usual. I don't know how other Tex-Mex places stay in business. Seriously.

After that we stopped in Roundrock and walked through the IKEA store. I needed to replace a few beer glasses that've been broken in the last year or so. Then it was a short trip to J.C.Penny's, and then the drive home. By the time we got home we were both pooped. I laid down on the floor in front of the TV and fell asleep. Denise lasted a bit longer, but eventually conked out on the couch. Long story short, we both napped till about 10PM. I was amazed that I was able to get to sleep later on, but I was. I must've been tired.

So, that was it. I'm supposed to go shooting this Wednesday morning. First chance I'll have to shoot the AR-15. I'll probably have pictures to show you by the end of the week. This next weekend is lookin' calm by comparison to the last one, but it should be fun. I have two tickets to see the Arc Angels at Antone's Saturday night. So you guys have fun and we'll chat later on. Cheers!


Mushy said...

Man...you don't know where that pussy's been!

Grandpa-Old Soldier said...

Some good shots, notice you stayed pretty much in the shade. Ha. I got to see the parade over in Leesville La while I was home for the forth. Glad to be back in Texas though.

FHB said...

Mushy - True, but ya gotta get it when you can.

Grandpa-OS - Yea, the shade's the thing. Always. Glad to have ya back.

Hammer said...

I would have been a softy about the cat too. My kids would have made me take it home.

Sounds like a great time overall.