Thursday, July 02, 2009

Had a great time over the weekend.

First, we drove over to Temple and took mom out to eat last Friday night. We went to BJ's, as I'd predicted. It was great, and a funny thing happened. As we were led in to our table, I looked up and saw a former student of mine sitting there at the next booth with his wife and kids. We shook hands and then the waitress moved us off to another booth. Mom loves a booth.

Anyway, we ordered our drinks, appetizers and main dishes, and then about ten minutes later the waitress showed up with another round of drinks for all three of us. Turns out, my former student had told her to bring us another round on him. What a cool surprise. I guess it is good to know people.

You should have seen mom, smilin', lookin' at that second top shelf margarita and sayin' "Oh, I really shouldn't." Yea, she did. I think she killed most of it by the time we left. It was a great evening. We went by her place after dinner and visited with mom and my sister. Then it was home to chill and think about our upcoming weekend.

We got up at the normal time Saturday and laid around, resting. Then we packed and headed up to Ft. Worth, arriving at about 6PM. The hope was that we'd be able to change at my buddy Jim's house but he and his wife Terry were both gone, so we had to figure something else out. In the end we were both able to get dressed and head over to my High School pre-reunion dinner at Joe "T" Garcia's on the north side of town, near the stockyards and Billy Bob's.

The dinner turned out to be a hoot. I didn't recognise most of the folks that were there, but I did reconnect with one guy that i hadn't seen in twenty years, and he told me how to get reconnected with another guy. The restaurant had changed a lot since the last time I'd been there. It's a beautiful place, with huge outdoor gardens loaded with fountains and a pool where you eat. But the Mexican food there was not up to our Pappasito's standard, and the outdoor setting was beautiful, but it was about 100 degrees, so I was wishin' we'd made arrangements to meet somewhere else, indoors.

After the dinner we drove over to De Soto and got into our hotel room. Early the next morning we met our friends at the Dallas Convention Center and spent about three hours walking through the Southwest Foodservice Expo. It was fun, just like it always is. We spent the afternoon sampling all kinds of food and adult beverages, fending off vendors who wanted to know what sort of restaurant we had and could they send us information. I'd just smile and say "No thanks", and we'd walk on by. Kinda sad, to tell you the truth. I'd hate to be one of those folks, searching the passing crowd for any inkling of recognition or interest.

We bugged out of there at about 2PM and headed back to the hotel to freshen up. We had ideas about getting together with our friends, following them to their hotel, but it didn't work out. So we went back to our place and relaxed for a while. Then we drove back over to Ft. Worth to hang out with my friends over there before going to the game.

It was great to see Jim and Terry again. He's in town from his job in Pennsylvania and was doing some work on his mother-in-law Judy's barn. We sat around and got reacquainted. They floated an idea that we should join them and most of Jim's family in a year, next June, for a cruise to Alaska. The more we think about it the more we want to go. Some time around 6:30PM we got back in the car and headed for Arlington. We parked at the Ballpark and got into the place just as the teams were starting to take the field.

It's a beautiful place, The Ballpark In Arlington. Home of the Texas rangers. Built by the local tax payers back when George W was a part owner. While we were at Jim's place he noted that we never get pissed off at the Rangers for never winning anything. I agreed with him. We both reasoned it's because they never have been worth a damn. We expect more from the Cowboys because they've won the big one several times. The Rangers just plod along, looking really good from time to time, but then always sucking up in the end. Sunday nights game was no different.

I was ready for the food and drink to be expensive, but it was still a shock. $6.75 for a beer, $4.50 for a regular sized hot dog, $4.25 for water.

I plunked down $12.00 for this Margarita for the little woman. Later on I went up to the vending area and got a chili dog. A foot long dog with chili and cheese and grilled onions... $9.00. But it fed the both of us and was really good.

We had decent seats, just up from the visitors dugout, about eight rows up from the grass. Denise had never been to a professional baseball game before. I told her "Don't get too excited. It's the Rangers. There's college teams that could beat their ass."

At some point they did the dot race up on the score board, but then the real thing started out there on the field. It was hilarious. Denise was perplexed. "Why don't we see all this stuff on television?" "Commercials darling. Commercials."

In time, the game evolved in a bad direction. The Rangers kept hitting pop flies out near the back of the field while the Padres got base hits. The Rangers hitters got on base twice from bad Padre's pitching, but normally they were getting out while they tried to get home runs rather than simple base hits. The Padres hit the ball out between the outfielders, got on base over and over again and got two runs in. They ended up winning by two to nothing.

In the 9th, when the Rangers had one chance left to score, the mascot came out and stood on top of the Padre's dugout to get the crowd motivated.

The second baseman came out and gave it a decent try, but again, knocked it out into the glove of the left fielder and the game was over. It ended very quickly with no fireworks or hoopla. I was sorry that Denise didn't get to see them win. But she loved the game, so we'll do it again. Sure enough, the Angels came to town after the Padre's and the Rangers started to win. Last nights game was exciting as hell... tied at seven till a last minute homer by a Ranger won it. Too bad that team didn't show up when we were there to see them.

We sat in our seats for a bit to let much of the crowd dissipate, but then headed to the car. The sight of the new Cowboys stadium at night was stunning. You can't really tell from these pictures, but the place is friggin' HUGE. I can't wait to get in there and see it from the inside.

After that we went back to the hotel and crashed. Early the next morning, Monday morning, we got up and drove back up to Dallas to join our friends at a free breakfast being put on by one of the vendors at that Food Show. Prairie City Bakery was having a big feed at the Fairmont, so we headed over there and found our friends already there, chowin' down. While we were there we found out that they had plans to go to the Dallas Zoo after breakfast. Sounded like a good plan to us, so we decided to join them.

I hadn't been to the Dallas Zoo in about fifteen or twenty years, so it was interesting to see how the place has changed.

Since it was hot as hell, with temperatures in the upper 90s (a cold front having blown in), most of the critters were relaxing in the shade.

It was hard to find any four legged friends who weren't conserving their energy...

Takin' a cat nap, or something.

If you had some water to slop around in, chances are you were sittin' in it.

Of course, if you live in a water park, the heat really wasn't an issue for you.

Just get with your people and take a collective dip. We had a great time watching the critters, four legged and two legged, and you can go to FlickR and check out the rest of the pictures. You can also go there and see more baseball shots if you want to.

After the zoo, Denise and I headed over to Ft. Worth for the last time and headed over to see Keith's Mom. I'd talked to her earlier in the day and found out she was still working part time as a tutor and that she'd be home after 3PM. So, with both of is exhausted after walking around the zoo for three hours, and with a lot of emotion in my mind, I drove over to the old house I'd known so well thirty years earlier.

Denise and I walked up to the door and I rang the bell. There was a clamor of barking when the bell rang, reminding me of the Irish Setters the family had always had. Keith's wife, Pagel, and his adult daughter came to the door, and two big Setters, barking and straining at their collars. They were just dyin' to lick us to death. Pagel and I hugged, I introduced Denise and we went in and sat down on the couch.

As we were visiting, Keith's mom came home from her tutoring job. There was a lot of squealin' and we shared a big hug. Seeing her again, I remembered just how she looked and sounded. It was a wonderful reunion. They filled out a lot of the gray areas in my mind, telling me how things had been in the last three decades. They told me that Keith had held two long term jobs in that time, one as a handy man at a local school and the other at a local toy store. They told me that the toy store job had made him very happy, giving him the opportunity to fill their house with a combination of Star Wars and Batman toys.

Looking at what was left of his collection, it reminded me of another friend and his toy cars. Only it sounds like Keith had gone totally nuts over collecting. There was a method to his madness though. I told them that when he started collecting Star Wars figures, we were still in high school. He had them all tacked up on his wall, still in the plastic. I'd say stuff like "Why the hell don't you play with them you idiot?" Well, this "idiot" eventually sold all those original Star Wars figures for about $20,000! I couldn't believe it, but then I could. Keith wasn't stupid. That wasn't his problem.

His mom said that he'd eventually lost both of those jobs. She said he'd gotten into an argument with his boss and lost the handy man job, and that he'd lost the toy store job when he'd turned in another employee for something, who then turned him in for something else. His mom said that he'd fallen into a deep depression when he lost that job, and that it was several months later that he'd killed himself. He'd secretly bought a pistol, but had also horded pills from his father, who'd died of cancer a year or so earlier. In the end, having pledged to Pagel that he'd never make a mess of it, he took the pills.

It was all very sad. Apparently they sprinkled his ashes in the back garden, where his fathers ashes had been mingled with those of many beloved family pets. When I heard that I half jokingly said, "Well, I guess that means you can't ever move." They laughed and agreed with me. We talked about a lot of old times, and I tried not to get stuck, draggin' lots of morbid details out of them. In the end, Denise and I got up to go and we all hugged. I told them I'd keep in touch and we headed out. I'm really glad I went. I just wish I'd done it a few years earlier.

After that, Denise and I went over to Jim and Terry's place again and relaxed for a while. They gave us more details on this Alaska cruise. Jim also posed the idea that we all go to England in a few years and do the Farnborough Air Show. So, we've got all sorts of plans to work through. We'll see how that all goes down.

After that, Denise and I headed over to Pappasito's and had dinner. It was wonderful, and made me wonder how places like Joe "T" Garcia's manage to stay in business. Then it was a 2 and 1/2 hour drive home, where we collapsed from exhaustion.

Since then I've been sleepin' in, workin' on pictures and relaxing while Denise goes to work at 6:30 every morning. It's been rough, but I'm holding up to it well. This upcoming weekend is the Fourth of July, so it'll be busy. Denise is flying to Wisconsin tomorrow for a baby shower, but I chose to stay home. My friends from the food show are competing in a chili cook-off in Temple, so there'll be good things to eat. And then there's the official fireworks display at Ft. Hood. It's always a fun time. I just have to try to be sober enough to drive down to Austin and pick Denise up Sunday morning.

So, you guys try to have some fun, have a wonderful Fourth, and we'll talk again later. Cheers.


JDP said...

Never have seen the big attraction with Joe T's myself. For some reason all of the women folk and my gay brother in law think it is a great place to eat.


Becky said...

Sounds like you have been busy. Its been forever since I've been to the zoo, I need to go! I just don't have a good zoo anywhere near me. That Cheetah looked awesome too. I love the big cats.

BRUNO said...

Don't know if I'd rather be the SLOTH, or the RHINO. They BOTH kind of apply to my current disposition...