Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Gettin' back to something like a normal routine.

For those of you who know me and have been comin' by here for a while, you know what that means. It means, among other things, goin' over to Temple and takin' mom out to eat on Friday nights.

But this last Friday, mom indicated that she really didn't want to go out. Turns out she'd gone to the grocery store earlier that day and walked up and down the isles, wearin' herself out... Yea, after spendin' $350 at the commissary the week before. But she says her local grocery store has better steaks and hamburger patties than the base.

She freezes the patties and then takes one out at a time to make herself some tacos, or a bowl of chili. So, after all that activity, mom was pooped when the time came to join us for dinner. We told her in stead that we'd go and eat, and then we'd bring her dinner to the house. With that, Denise and I decided to try out a Chinese buffet in Belton called Jake's.

Denise had heard from someone out at work that Jake's had great food, including great steaks. Well, it turned out that Jake's was a passable Chinese food place at best, and the steaks were nothing to write home about. Many years ago, when Dad was still alive and he and I were doing this Friday night ritual, we'd tried out Jake's, only to decide that it wasn't worth going back to.

That's when he and I started going to Dynasty every Friday night. I told Denise about this, but told her that that had been many years ago, and maybe they'd gotten new cooks and spiced things up. So we gave it a try. Denise said later that she was gonna have to have a talk with those folks out at work who told her how good it was. Set 'em straight.

In the end, rather than take mom a plate of Chinese food, she decided she really wanted a banana split from Dairy Queen. I can't tell you how often I've driven up 31st street and procured one of these delights for my mother. She loves them to death, but for whatever reason, hadn't had one in a long time.

We sat down and watched TV with her while she ate, and then Denise and I drove on home. Saturday afternoon, Denise and I were scheduled to drive up to Ft. Worth and attend a surprise birthday party for a very good friend of mine.

Ronda Stewart, the wife of my old canoeing coach from junior college, Paul Stewart, from like 30 years ago, just turned 70. Yea, he was my canoeing coach.

In my second semester in college, in the spring of 1980, I signed up for an inter-mural PE class called Camping and Canoeing. That class changed my life. I can say that unequivocally. I'd never been camping before, though something about it had always intrigued me. I'd played at it as a kid, but had never spent the night in a tent before. Anyway, I enjoyed the class so much I just kept comin' back, like a bad penny I guess.

In time, as the classes changed from a mix of guys and gals to smaller groups of mostly guys, I guess I got tired of the seemingly endless prick measuring contests that went on during the trips. The endless one-upsmanship always seemed to get in the way of my relaxation. Some dude, sitting in the front of my canoe, would be pissed at me because we weren't going fast enough down the river, racing the other guys. Shit man, I just wanted to enjoy the scenery and the water.

So, after the whole thing became a bit more tedious, I stopped going. I moved on, and got into grad school. That kept me pretty busy for a few years. But then, after getting my degree, I came back, and Paul let me go on a few trips. I was hooked again after that. The gals were back, and Paul couldn't shake me. I think he eventually had to retire just to get rid of me.

Not too long after that, in the spring of 1990, I was hired by the college I still work for to teach classes on deployed navy vessels. Between ships, so long as the schedule allowed, I'd tag along on a few canoe trips now and then. I also kept in touch with several friends that I'd met on those trips. Those folks became very close friends, and I still run around with them today. Then, when I stopped all that travelin' and started working here on Ft. Hood, I finally got a chance to get myself an appropriate vehicle.

Here's a shot from some time in 1995 or '96. We were runnin' the Blanco river, southeast of San Marcos. It was my first trip after buying my Jeep. I was so proud. I miss that car. That tent was cool too. A Timberline Vista. I got it cheap from L.L. Bean. I still have it, but all the seams are rotten and coming apart.

Later on, during the summer, Paul would occasionally invite me on his annual father-son trips. He'd get together with neighbors and folks from his church and they'd run the lower end of the Buffalo National River, in northwest Arkansas.

Those trips were always a blast, and it gave me a chance to meet up with Paul's brother, his nephew and some of his friends. A lot of those people were there at Ronda's birthday party Saturday night. We all enjoyed getting together again, and everyone voiced a desire to get back on the river.

I can't tell you how important this guy has been to my life. He introduced me to a world that became incredibly important in making me who I am today, and helped me grow up a lot. I went from being a scared, sheltered little putz, into, well, a much bigger putz with really cool camping skills and gear. What can say.

Denise and I drove back home after the party, and then slept in Sunday morning. Mom had alerted us earlier to the possibility that she was gonna cook some good food Sunday afternoon. She doesn't do that much cooking any more, so we didn't hesitate to join her.

Sure enough, she fried up some chicken, cooked some green peas, and tossed us a great salad with her special home made dressing. Denise provided potato salad, and my cousin Sue baked up some croissants that were slathered with garlic butter.

Denise also took charge, as usual, of the adult beverage production. Usually we have Strawberry Daiquiris, but this time mom chose Pina Coladas. Good stuff.

Yep, it was all good. I ended up bringin' home some left-over chicken, and had that, and some more tater salad for lunch/dinner yesterday afternoon. Good stuff.

Now, y'all try not to slobber too much on the keyboard, lookin' at these pictures. I know, that's just wrong. Cheers!


*Goddess* said...

What does she put on her chicken? Damn, that looks good and crispy!

FHB said...

Goddess - She double dips it. You take chicken pieces that have been salted down over night in the fridge (like marinading them, and dip them in flower. Then, dip them in half & half, and then back in the flower. Then drop them in oil. It takes practice, and she doesn't have any formal recipe. She learned how to do it at my grandmothers elbow, with a touch of this and a touch of that. I can make it, and I change it up a bit, but t takes practice.

Mushy said...

Too late...I slobbered!

FHB said...

Mushy - Mission accomplished.

Suldog said...

There are some things that are just wonderful because they're so simple and full of love. Getting the banana split for your Mom, and then sharing some time with her while she had it? That sort of stuff qualifies at the top of the list!

FHB said...

Sully - Yea, it's always fun. We didn't get to spend much time with her this last weekend. She was too tired to go out to eat and we were too busy to go back after Friday. But this weekend should be ok. Thanks. It's time I'll treasure one day.