Monday, September 28, 2009

The weekend.

Denise and I slept in Saturday, relaxing, and then headed up to Waco to eat dinner with some friends and attend a concert at the local community college. One of my buddies from school, Glenn Kueck, found out about the concert and got us tickets a while back. $20 a seat.

I found out last week that Glenn wanted us to show up at his house in Waco a bit early so he and his wife Becky could feed us. He and I have known each other for something like a decade, but our ladies have never met, so it was a cool idea.

We got there at about 6:30, enjoyed some wine and conversation, and then dinner was served. It turned out, Glenn had produced a wonderful "Tex-Mex" concoction, with two different kinds of baked beans and guacamole on the side, and some home-made Sangria to wash it all down with.

Glenn said that he'd picked up the recipe for the dish from and old girlfriend. He said something like "At least, when you get out of a crappy relationship, you should get a decent recipe." Denise sported a wry smile, looked at me and said something like "You're not getting the recipe for the Lasagna." I said something like "Aw, man. Maybe the Shepherd's Pie?"

It was all wonderful, and it was great to finally meet his wife and introduce them to Denise. In the end, Glenn and his wife got into their snazzy little black Chrysler Crossfire and drove off toward the MCC campus and the Bosque River Stage (pronounced Boskee), with us following in my little Solara. They led us in a fun, twisty, circuitous rout through the back streets of Waco. It was fun, but probably not as much fun for me as it was for them in that little sports car. One of these days!

As it turned out, our seats were excellent, right down in the middle. It's a cool little concert venue. We got there just as the lead-up band began their set, and just as the smudge pots started to send clouds of citronella wafting through the air.

Carolyn Wonderland's bio is an interesting read. An Austin based singer, She's made good headway in the last decade towards a first rate career in the music business.

Based on what we saw Saturday night, she should go far. Check out this video I found on YouTube. She plays the hell outta that little guitar, and the trumpet, and a full sized electric guitar too.

She gave a great performance, playing a range of tunes for about 45 minutes. Then the lights went up and the roadies came out to do the old switcharoo. I took that opportunity to get myself a beer and Denise the makings of a Shandy.

Shortly, the main attraction came out from the side of the stage and began a great, relaxed set of guitar music. This little stop on Waco is the first performance in a tour that will take Larry Carlton's Jazz trio to Japan, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands. How cool is that? It all started in friggin' Waco, at a little spot on the Bosque river.

The feel of the evening was very casual, like we'd all shown up in someones back yard to listen to Carlton jam and reminisce about his varied career. Here's the feel, and the kind of guitar work we heard that night.

Carlton's bio is also fascinating. In the moments between tunes, he spoke about how he'd had a wide and varied career, how he'd recently turned 61, and that he'd just finished a set of six or eight gigs with Steely Dan, reprising their collaboration on albums like The Royal Scam and Aja.

After a great, quiet solo that begin the concert, he introduced the other members of his jazz trio. He said he'd known his bass player for something like 27 years, then introduced his 27 year old son Travis. The drummer, Gene Coy, had been found in LA, where Travis lives. Carlton mentioned that he lives on a ranch outside Nashville. The three make amazing music together. It was a joy to get a chance to listen.

After the concert, the four of us talked about what a great concert it was, and how much better it would have been if some of the folks in the audience would have had better manners. Yea, it was another one of those nights. While Carlton played that first quiet number, two guys in the back decided to just go ahead with what they were talking about. I swear, it's like they think they're at home, sitting in front of their TV. Later on there were a few other guys to our right holding court while the rest of us tried to listen to the music. I was wishin' I had a paint ball gun again.

Anyway, after the show ended, the four of us hugged, shook hands and parted ways. It was a great time, and I hope we can get together in the near future and do it all again.

Sunday morning, Denise went off to work and I headed up to Gatesville to pick up my buddies and head to Dallas. Once we got there, Dave went off to haggle with a guy about gun stocks, while I steadily made my way around the show.

Eventually i found my knife blade guy, and picked up this little number. It should be a fun project.

Eventually, I wound my way around to the guys who were sellin' safes by the front wall. I've checked out their products a hundred times, but never had the money to spend on what I wanted. Now I do, so I signed a contract to have them build me a nice vault for my toys. Click on their site and check out the "Fat Boy". It should hold 50 long guns, and there'll be hooks for eight or ten pistols on the door. So, room for all my toys, and spare room for a few more. Cool eh?

I wandered around for hours, waitin' for Waters to work his way through the show. While I did, I fondled all sorts of interesting guns and knives. There were LOTS of temptations, but eventually one proved more of a draw than the others.

I'd been looking for a good conceal/carry pistol for a long time, and had decided some time back that I wanted a small 1911 type pistol. I had my sights on a particular Kimber, but they didn't have any of them at this show. I saw two or three of these little babies (above). I compared prices and sampled the feel of this one over and over. Finally, after saying no to a last temptation, I went over and bit the bullet. Here are the specs. I can't wait to shoot it. Maybe this week some time. There's a range down near Florence. I can zip over there after class (no San Saba this week).

Oh, and that last temptation? Check it out.

Can you imagine the fun that could be had with that thing? They wanted $450 for it, but they said the mag wobbled and occasionally worked it's way out of the gun with repeated firing. I was VERY tempted, but I decided to go for the pistol instead. Maybe next time. There's another show in November.

Anyway, It was a long day. It was a long, good weekend. Hope you enjoyed the read. Cheers.

Friday, September 25, 2009

More cowbell please!

Heard this on the satellite radio the other day, drivin' home from work. I probably had the sunroof open all the way, soakin' in the cooler weather we've been blessed with lately. This little number came on and I cranked the volume. Bliss! I hadn't heard it in a good while.

Oh yea? Terry Kath was God.

It's been a little over thirty years since he passed. I think it was my Junior year in high school. Same era when we lost folks like Elvis and much Lynard Skynard. Seems like they all went within' the space of a year. I still miss them all a lot. Cheers!

Monday, September 21, 2009


Well, I took Denise up to Ft. Worth last Saturday and we attended my 30th high school reunion at the Ridglea Country Club. Apparently, one of my old classmates is a member, so we got to have our reunion in some swanky surroundings.

This is a shot taken by one of the guys I went to school with, Roger Scott. He posted it on his Facebook site and I stole it. It's too good to leave alone. If you want to see my shots, click here and go over to FlickR. Anyway, Roger's shot It shows me leading Denise around, maybe over to the dance floor, our ID badges in place. Of course, everyone thought she'd gone to Southwest because of the badge. It was funny.

They had an awesome sound system there, and they played all the great tunes from the mid to late '70s. It was wonderful!

The country club folks put on an amazing feed, with several kinds of salad, veggies and meats, all prepared perfectly.

Most of the time was spent trying to see if I could recognise someone. There was a lot of that going around. At one point, looking around, I told Denise "These mother fuckers are too damn OLD to have been in my class!" She laughed.

I ended up meeting a guy there that I didn't know in school, but who lives in my area and works in education. Small world, eh? His name is Jeff Early. We compared notes for a while. Then I discovered an old friend who I hadn't seen in 30 years. We were leafing through an old annual, the Yee Haw, and I pointed to a picture of him and said something about how I wished he'd come. Someone else said "He did. He's right over there."

I was surprised to see him. Kendall Nix and I never really ran around. We had mutual friends, but we were around one another in class much of the time. He was quite a brain back then. The story was that he had a photographic memory. Not sure if that was true, but he was one of the guys I hung with who got really good grades, and who I was always comparing myself to. He and my friend Keith started school together in the first grade. They were both smart as hell, got really good grades, and both liked to rub it in a little. Turns out he worked for General Dynamics for a while after going to A&M, and now works at a bank.

That's Roger there, and his lovely wife. I really didn't know Roger in school, but we saw one another around enough that we knew who the other was. When we went to the pre-reunion dinner a few months back, he was about the only dude I knew. It had been a little over twenty years since we'd seen each other.

Here's a shot from the collection of another friend, Bill Boyer. That's Denise and I there on the right. I'm checkin' the camera to see if my shot's are comin' out or not. We're probably about to head back out on the dance floor.

Another guy I was surprised to see was a guy that lived across the street from me back then. His name is Coleman White. I used to hang around with his younger brother, being more comfortable back then, usually, with folks who were younger than I was. I went up to him and talked to him, but he didn't remember us at all. He said he'd been a carpenter for a long time, and that he was recently retired.

Here's another from Bills collection. We're probably about to dance, or were in the midst of mingling. I saw him with the camera and tried to get Denise to turn around, but he was too fast on the draw.

At one point, the Electric Slide came up. Denise loves that shit, but I have no clue, so I stood at the edge of the dance floor and took pictures. It was funny, like an old high school dance (not that I ever went to one). Most folks stood at the wall and a hand full of couples danced.

Another old friend, David Cavenah, didn't show up for the event. I contacted him through Classmates and by email. He said something about wanting to go, but couldn't make it. I'll have to try to get together with him at another time. He's important to me. He's the guy who took me to my first Gun Show. That's HUGE! I've got to buy him a drink and thank him for that.

So, it was a fun evening. I didn't recognize too many folks, and most of them didn't know me, but I wasn't expecting them to. The most fun came from looking at our old pictures from the Yee Haw as they were broadcast onto the screen. When a few folks saw my old picture, the light of recognition went off, but not too many times.

Every once and a while a Black face would come up. Denise was puzzled by that, making note that here weren't any Black people at the reunion. I just shrugged my shoulders and told her that most of them were bussed into the school back then, so they've probably got their own reunion goin' somewhere else. It's a shame, but what can ya do?

In the end, as people began to trail off, Denise and I made our way out, saying goodbye to the folks we'd sat next to or talked to. It was fun. I was sad to think of my buddy Keith, who isn't with us any more, but again, what are ya gonna do?

We hung around Ft. Worth Sunday morning, had breakfast at a Denny's and then walked around Hulen mall. Denise is busy buyin' baby clothes for little Payton. We drove back down I-35 and stopped at the outlet mall in Hillsboro. We were back home and waiting for the Cowboys to play football by the evening (Romo is such a dumbass!).

That's that. The library is closing here in San Saba, so I'm outta here. Cheers!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A great tune, and a great plane. What a combo!

Man, I've always loved the Phantom. Growin' up in the Air Force, they were always around. I'll never forget, goin' to school in Ft. Worth in the 70s. B-52s were always in the sky, and the reserve squadron at Carswell flew Phantoms. They were flyin' Thuds (F-105s) when we got there, but switched to Phantoms, and then eventually to F-16s. Anyway, lots of those old memories have been flooding through my mind these days. I still have that Steve Miller record on 8-track. I must have worn that sucker out a few times.

I'm taking Denise up to Ft. Worth today. We're gonna head over to the Ridglea Country Club this evening to attend my 30th high school reunion. Southwest High School, class of 1979. It should be fun. Sadly, a few of my old friends won't be there, for one reason or another. But it'll be very interesting to see all my other old classmates again.

Truthfully, I doubt any of them will remember me, or I them. I really wasn't in any social circles back then. Mostly stayed in my room and built models. I hid, afraid I'd be made to look silly. But I'm not the kid I was back then, and most of them can probably say the same thing. So we'll be getting to know one another as grownups this time, and the playing field will be MUCH more level.

I heard an old Dylan song on the radio the other day. One lyric stood out, and resonated with me more than it ever had before. He said something like, "I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now." So true. So very true. I feel like I'm getting younger all the time now, loosening up and learning how to have a good time, for the first time in my life. I wish I'd done it 30 years ago, but there's no going back. All I can do is go forward from here.

Here's to the class of 1979, and to good friends that can't be there, and to great friends who've helped me along the way. I love you all very much. Cheers!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Introducing Payton Evelyn Sherry.

Denise's daughter had a beautiful baby girl last Tuesday morning.

Seven pounds, seven ounces. Twenty inches long. There's a new little wiggler in the world.

Mommy and daddy are proud as hell, and everyone is healthy and happy.

Oh, I bet those lungs are workin' overtime. We'll probably fly up to Kentucky in a few weeks to give little Payton's Nanna a chance to start spoilin her.

So here's to her. Here's to everyone. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Finally got the chance to take a few friends up on their offer last Saturday.

You remember a while back when a few friends here in San Saba told me about that Bob Dylan concert? One of the ladies that works in the education building out there, Sue Shuford, had found out about it from her kids. They'd gotten tickets for themselves, but not for her. John wanted to go but had to work his guard shift that night. Well, I told them that I'd try to make it to the show, and as I left that day my buddy John joked that if I made it to the gig, I should bring them each back a t-shirt.

Anyway, Denise and I went and had a great time. When I showed up to work the next day with a fist full of t-shirts they were all a flutter. They wanted to pay me for them but I wouldn't take any money. I felt like I was just payin' them back for tellin' me about the gig. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to have that good time.

Well, Sue and John got their heads together and came up with something cool to pay me back. It turned out to be much better than havin' them just give me the money I spent on the t-shirts. It turns out Sue has a daughter and son-in-law (the same folks who had the tickets) who work at a swanky Italian restaurant in Austin. They set it up so that I could take Denise out to eat and it'd be on them.

This last weekend, the weekend with all the friggin' rain, turned out to be the best time for us to go. We've got plans to be somewhere else every weekend for about the next month or so, so it was now or never.

The place is down on the northwest side of Austin, in a new, very high tone community called The Domain. It's one of those places with expensive apartments, expensive shops and fancy restaurants, all crammed together in a pretty little nook off a big highway. In this case it's all off North Loop One, or MOPAC, if you're a local.

The Restaurant is called North, offering "modern Italian cuisine".

We got the idea we were in a swanky place for the first moment we strolled in off the rainy sidewalk. It reminded me of some of the places, very full of themselves, that I've experienced in cities like Dallas. You order a Blue Moon and they bring it to you with a fat wedge of orange in it, in a chilled glass. But it's a fancy, tall beer glass with a stem. Very cool. I was impressed. They got a HUGE thumbs up there. I can't tell you how many friggin' times I have to ask for that wedge elsewhere when I order a thick, wheaty beer.

We decided to go with a few appetizers to start off. With Denise and I, there's always the issue that she's not into seafood. I LOVE shrimp and calamari, so we can find ourselves at an impasse when we go to fancy places that put on a lot of spicy, fishy dishes. In this case I looked over the menu and asked for a few different things, normally side orders, so we'd have something to choose from. The dish you see there above is the Crispy Italian Potatoes.

Beginning with the bowl, you see the Zucca Chips... very thinly sliced and fried zucchini chips, like potato chips. They were great! The other dish is their Garlic Bread, with a wonderful tomato and parmesan dip to spread over it. Wonderful!

For lunch, both of us had the Angus Burger. Yea, I know, not really Italian, but it did have a fancy tomato sauce on it, with the provolone and bacon, and a fancy pasta salad on the side. We both loved it.

In retrospect, I'm not sure if we'd go back. Those kind of high tone places really aren't us. We like things a bit more proletarian. If I had a date, and I knew she was into fancy food, it'd be a cool place to go. But I think they're so popular, we'd have to get a reservation. I'd rather go to a place where I just have to sit and wait for 20 or 30 minutes, and then I'm sure I cam shovel in the wedge fries with my bacon cheese burger. That's just me. We loved it! But I don't know if we'll ever go back. Maybe. Hey, for free food, it was two thumbs up! Cheers!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The shots from our Labour Day weekend in San Antone are up on FlickR.

The Alamo was packed, with a line to get into the mission stretching all the way down and around the corner of the square. Since Denise had been in there before, and I've been there a dozen times, we decided to avoid the lines and check out the garden and the Long Barracks. The garden is the coolest thing about the place anyway.

Here's a shot from the garden. There were lots of folks like this walkin' around on Saturday. It was cool to see the young people in Air Force blue. At one point, as we walked down the River Walk, I took a picture of a couple of guys, and they noticed me doin' it. I held out my hand to one, shook it, and told him that my dad had been in the Air Force for 32 years. "Good luck with it," I said. They thanked me. I couldn't help but get emotional. Too many memories flooding by.

The River Walk was beautiful. Much more so that I'd remembered from all those years ago.

On Sunday, Denise and I drove out to Sea World and took that in.

I tell ya, I'd LOVE to be able to swim around in that tank with those critters. It looked wonderful!

I tried to get some good action shots of the show, but you can't really get the feel without bein' there yourself. I'd recommend it. It was great!

This is a shot Denise took of me, about to go over the edge on the Atlantis ride. That's me in the white t-shirt. I've got my arms in the air. There was a German tourist in the seat behind me yelling "Hände hoch!" Now, I've seen enough movies to know what that means. I wanted to yell back something like "Dude, the war's over!" But I quickly realized he just wanted his son to raise his arms and get the full effect of the ride. So, I went with it too. It was a blast.

The rest of the shots are over at FlickR. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

A quick one. Busy, busy, busy.

I'm back in the library in San Saba, gettin' ready to transcribe some more of my scribbles onto my thumb drive. Just thought I'd catch everyone up on stuff. No pictures to show you, accept for these, from Mondays shoot. Enjoy. The trip pictures will be done when I get a chance.

I started workin' on the story again after a long dry spell, getting interested in it again after comin' back to work about a month ago. I get ideas now, here and there, and write them down on paper. Then, when I get computer time, I plug the bits and pieces into the story where they fit and try to flesh things out. It's slow and tedious, but it's all comin' together, sure enough.

Funny thing is, the story seems to be coming to me backwards now. I finished a good version of the end a while back, then thought about what would happen just before that, and today, sitting in the class at the prison, I jotted down some of the stuff that will happen before that next-to-the-last bit. Weird, but it seems to be workin'.

It's gonna take me a while to get it all together, and then even longer to get it set up in such a way that doesn't sound so infantile to me (TO ME, which is what matters), and then we'll see what happens. It's like that old story about how you eat an elephant... One bite at a time.

We had a great time this last weekend in San Antone. Drove down Friday night and got into our hotel room at the Holiday Inn Riverwalk. The next morning, around noon, we walked out and began to see the sights. After brunch at the Hard Rock, we walked over to the Alamo. It was jam packed, and we'd both seen it too many times to put up with the line, so we just wandered out behind it, taking in the gardens and the Long Barracks. It's always beautiful, and inspiring. I'll never get tired of seein' it.

After that we wandered down to the river walk and took it all in. It's a beautiful place, seemingly getting more beautiful each time I go there. We did the boat tour, and then stopped at the mall for some marble slab ice cream. We walked back up towards out hotel after that and stopped for drinks at the Texas Land & Cattle. A margarita for the little lady and a tall beer for me.

After that, tired and dripping with sweat, we walked back to the room, showered and relaxed with some HBO. We laid back in that big, comfy king size bed and watched The Secret Life of Bees, with me thinkin' "chick movie!" But I have to say that I loved the hell out of it!

After that we got dressed up and went over to the theTower Of The Americas, and had a fancy dinner at the Chart House Restaurant. There's nothin' like drinkin' a nice sweet wine, eating stuffed shrimp and sauteed mushrooms with the incredible view of the city laid out for you through those big windows. And the thing is, while you eat, the place is slowly rotating on its axis, so the view slowly changes, giving you a full view of the city in the space of about an hour.

After that, er, I should say, after picking up a cool t-shirt and a few cool books in the store at the base of the tower, we went back to the room and crashed.

The next day, Sunday, we drove over to a Denny's we'd seen from the tower the night before, and had a nice breakfast. "Yes, I'll have a Moons Over My Hammy, with hash browns, milk and OJ, thank you very much!"

Then we drove over to Lackland Air Force Base to try to get a few pictures for my buddies who trained there, some time back in the paleolithic era. Then we drove on over to Sea World and spent the rest of the day seeing a few Anheuser-Busch Clydesdales, Shamu, the sharks, the seals, the dolphins, and huge, smelly, ridiculous hordes of people, most of whom had their squalid little rug rats in tow. Guess which part of all of that sucked the most?

Between critter shows, Denise held all my possibles while I rode a few roller coasters. She's not into that stuff, so I had to go it alone. One was the Journey To Atlantis, which was fun, but pretty straight forward. You go up, you get spun around, you go backwards a bit (which was almost the best part) and then you plunge down and get all wet when the thing you're sittin' in splashes down at the pool at the bottom of the ride. All good fun.

Then, as we walked over to try to get closer to another critter show, I saw the Great White. Holy fuckin' shit, dude, that thing is awesome! It's the closest I'll probably ever come to a ride in an F-16! I'm tellin' ya, it'll shake the shit out of ya, spin you around, toss you through two loops and several twisting dips, and then back to the start with a jolting stop, almost like being hooked on a carrier. It must have only lasted three or four minutes, but you're friggin' DONE by the end of it. Seriously. I just thank God I didn't eat all that BBQ BEFORE I rode that sucker. It would have been uuuuuugly!

By dark, we were done. We got back into the car and drove home, getting back by about 11:30PM. Pooped, but happy and glad we'd done it all.

Monday morning, Denise slept in while I drove up to Gatesville and went shootin' with my buddy Dave and a few of the other regulars. Again, you can click on the link at the top of this post and see those shots. There's even an interesting little video there, for your amusement. Enjoy.

Now it's back to work, and it's rainin' like crazy as I type this. It's my pool night, so wish me luck. I'll try to have the weekend pictures done soon. Until then, cheers!

Friday, September 04, 2009

Headin' out.

Denise and I are going to San Antonio this weekend. We've got reservations at the Holiday Inn, just up from the river. I came within' a very spindly, red you-know-what hair (Bruno?) of punchin' the button on a room at a VERY swanky, $199 a night place overlookin' the river. But I didn't do it. Could have. I've got the money. I WANTED to, but I just couldn't make myself. I'm tryin' to be good, now that my bills are paid and I'm solvent for the first time in years.

Well, I'm TRYIN' to be good. I also put in an order last night with CI for a truck load of new cigars. I'm tryin' a few new things: ACID Earthiness 5-pack, $24.00; and ACID Opulence Robusto 5-pack, $36.00; Oro Cubano Churchills, 50 cigars, (reg.$185), only $44.95. I'm also gettin' a new box of ACID Kuba Kubas. They're my favorites, and my box is almost empty. So I'm gettin' a new box of 24 (reg.$175.84), for only $136.95. And I ordered some more CI Knock-Offs, just like Macanudos. A bundle of 20 (reg.$158), just $41.00. Grand total... $291.85.

Yea, I know, but I smoke a lot of these things and I'm startin' to run low.

I got two tickets to the Austin City Limits Music Festival, for the Sunday shows. I was gonna try to get a three day pass, but I just don't have the desire to see most of the folks that are gonna show up Friday or Saturday. I wanted to see the Kings Of Leon, who are gonna be there Friday, but I won't pay the price they wanted for just one good group. I can see them another time, without all the heat and dust. So I chose to go for Sunday. There'll be Ben Harper, Raul Malo, the B-52s, Sonic Youth, The Dead Weather, and Pearl Jam. I could'a sworn that REM was gonna be there too, but I guess not. Oh well, it'll be a fun day anyway.

Also, there's a plan for a big shoot at Water's place in Gatesville Monday morning. A bunch of us will show up there at about 10AM and blast away. It should be fun.

I'm gonna get my hair cut in Salado at about 5PM today. Not sure about dinner plans with Mom. We'll see. Denise and I were gonna go watch a football game in Academy Friday night (Florence is going to Crawford to play, which is too friggin' far to go for me), but now we'll probably just head south to the river. We'll eat somewhere and then try to get there with enough time to relax and enjoy it. Or, we'll just head down there and find somewhere to eat down there. Mmmmm, that might be a plan!

So, you guys try to have a great three day weekend, and I'll lay out all the pictures for ya when I get back next week. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The rest of the weekend.

We slept in Saturday, resting after a very long and busy week. That's our routine. The weekends are for recharging the batteries, unless there's a trip to take or a concert to go to.

When Denise got up and went out back to see about layin' out in the sun in the yard, she noticed that the vines we'd planted a while back had finally begun to bloom.

I had only a few seeds left from an original stash of hundreds, harvested over many years of growing these vines. The pot of seeds had been ruined when I let them sit out there and get soaked with rain water. I was lucky I'd found a few pods that hadn't been ruined.

As the flowers grow and then wilt on those stalks, the seed pods grow and after they've dried you can harvest the seeds for next years crop. You can even eat them while they're still green, but you won't catch me doin' that.

You can see the little seed pods growing along side the flowers in this shot.

They're called Purple Hyacinth Bean Vines. But they're also known as Indian Bean, Egyptian Bean, Dolichos lablab, Lablab purpureus, Bonavist, Chinese Flowering Bean and Pharoah Bean. They're widely grown in Africa, India and Asia for use as food for both humans and livestock. The Hyacinth Bean Vine's most prestigious growing spot in the United States has been in the gardens of Thomas Jefferson's historic farm, Monticello. Now they're in mine too. Makes me feel all special!

I got my first seeds some time in the mid-1990s, from one of the houses down the alley from my folks house in Temple. They had them growing over their fence. I got some dried seed pods and grew the vines in planters on the second floor balcony of my apartment. The sliding door faced the setting sun each day, so I grew enough of these to shade the door, just as these shade one of my bedroom windows. The leaves provided so much shade that it ended up saving me money on my electric bill.

Our Canna Lilies are also blooming and looking green. Considering the drought, and how seldom I seem to remember to water them, I'm amazed they're doing this well.

The flowers are just beautiful. They were all transplanted from my mother's garden this last spring and early summer. They'd become overgrown and crowded there, so she dug up about eight or ten plants and gave them to me. I planted them in the corner of this planter that I'd constructed out of railroad ties, and they seem to have taken off. We've supplemented them with a few different varieties of Lilies, purchased from the local Lowe's, but mom's are still the tallest and prettiest.

Speaking of Mom, she teased me last Friday by mentioning that she might fry me some chicken if I wanted to come over again and have dinner. Silly question! Denise and I went over Sunday night.

Denise had the job of making the drinks. Strawberry Daiquiris all around, thank you.

By the time the last thighs came out of the oil, I'd fixed out potatoes with pepper, butter, sour cream and grated cheese, and Denise had mixed the salad with mom's special home made dressing. It had all been pre-cut and just needed tossing with a few forks.

After that, there was a little ice cream, with chocolate sauce dripped over it. And there was a good long talk about lots of things going on in mom's side of the family. There a lot of drama these days, but I won't go into it. Not now anyway.

I know, you always leave this place hungry. Well hell, eat before you get here. I can't help it.

After that, Denise and I drove home and hit the sack early. I killed off about two chapters of the book I'm reading and the next thing I knew it was 6:30 and the alarm was goin' off.

That's my life these days. I guess I'm workin' hard to make it better, so that when I'm as broke down as some folks I can sit back and relax on a cool porch. It's somethin' to shoot for. Cheers!