Aside from that. I had a blowout in school this morning. Well, really, it was probably when I sat down in the silver bullet to head to San Saba from Florence. By the time I got out of class at the jail, this is what it had turned into.
Full blown gaposis, bordering on the indiscreet. I mean, my shit was just about to go public.
Don't get me wrong. The extra AC was nice to have, it bein' friggin' hot as blazes here today... 90 in the shade. But still, a prison is no place to advertisin' your wares, if you know what I mean.
I got out of the jail at about 2:35 and went to my usual (non Dairy Mart) lunch stop, Our Place, and enjoyed my grilled chicken on rye, making sure the little ladies there didn't get a good look at anything. Didn't want to get myself arrested.
Then I headed for Harry's Western Wear, in the down town square, were I was able to find suitable replacement. Wrangler chinos. 42x34 will do in a pinch, if I can't find 42x36s.
Doesn't it suck when you get a good pair of pants worn in and soft, and in no time the ass splits out on ya? I think I've had these for about ten years. i guess I got my moneys worth out of 'em.
Anyway, that was my drama for the day.
Finally, a guy I went to high school with sent me a shot of his new toy the other day. Check it out.
Cool trike eh? I've always thought those things were cool. Cheers!
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
Yep, busy. It all started in the middle of last week. Denise and I went down to Austin Wednesday night and took in a show.
Joe Bonamassa was playin' at the Paramount Theater down town. I took the little camera Denise gave me for Christmas and was able to capture a few good, if a bit shaky videos.
I had to film surreptitiously. The ushers at the Paramount jumped all over people who were tryin' to take pictures that last time we went there. They've jumped me for taking pictures there before, so I was one handing this thing down the end of my knee, tryin' to keep Joe in focus and the center of the screen. You be the judge.
Thursday was a regular day. Down to Florence, then San Saba, and then I drove back to Killeen and onto Ft. Hood to give finals to two of my evening classes. As I was driving onto the base I realized that my stickers are about six months out of date. They expired in October of 2009, but the guards have been wavin' me through all this time. Security's tight!
So, after finishing the finals and getting out of class I had to go by the sticker place and get mine renewed. I was easy though. The later you show up to that place the fewer people are standing there in line.
Next morning, because most of my Florence kids would be gone for some school activity, I took the morning off. I arranged for the few folks who would show up to be sent to the library and Denise and I slept in.
I got on the road by 10:30 and headed to San Saba. I had to go in Friday to make up for the classes I'd missed to go to the concert. The drive was painless, and classes went smooth as usual. Like fallin' off a log. And seein' as how the Dairy Mart is open later than usual on Friday...
Yep, I went by for my usual treat, with a twist this time. A large order of onion rings to go with that Jalapeno Sourdough bread Bacon Cheeseburger... All the way, with mustard and mayo. Bliss!
I didn't get home from Saba until a little after 9PM Friday night, so there was no time to take Denise out or go get mom and have our regular Friday night dinner. Further more, with all this goin' on I'd forgotten to call mom and tell her what I was up to. So you can guess what I heard Saturday morning when I finally remembered to call. "Where the hell have you been?"
Saturday afternoon, while I was sprayin' poison on my crop of weeds, a former student from Florence drove up to show me his new toy.
John Jaeger was one of the smartest kids I ever taught down there. His sister is even smarter, which is to say, she doesn't have as many distractions as John has. He's recently been married, and he's in the Marine reserves. he says he's going to Afghanistan soon.
Anyway, he contacted me on Facebook last week to say that he wanted to bring his new 383 Nova by to show it to me. He wanted to let me drive it too...
But there was an issue. he's got a loose wire that causes the car to die at inopportune moments. He got it into my driveway and shut it off to show it to me, but when I got in to start it up for my joy ride it wouldn't start.
Long story short, after I showed him my toys... the big blue safe... we sat around and I shared a Yuengling with him, which he enjoyed, he tinkered with the wiring until it got going. By that time it was time for him to head out. Once he got it going he didn't want to take any chances. He waved good-bye and pealed out, burnin' a long black stripe in the road in front of my house. I'm sure all my little old neighbors were pissed, but I loved it. He says he's got someone workin' on the rats maze of old wires and that he'll bring it back up and let me drive it soon. I can't wait!
After that, Denise and I went to work cleanin' out our cars. I got out the shop vac and went to work while she shampooed the mats.
By the time we were done with that it was time for me to grab by laundry and head over to Temple. Denise was too pooped to go. I hosed myself down, gathered up my dry cleanin' and headed to the drive-by laundry in 57th, and then over to get mom.
It was my turn to pay, so you know where I wanted to go. The general's Chicken and Shrimp Fried Rice were in rare form. I tossed a few more shrimp and crab bits in there for good measure and mixed it all up. Mmmmmm, good.
Mom was too. She's doin' fine, and loves herself some of the generals chicken too.
After we stuffed ourselves we decided to do a run up to the cemetery so she could show me the nice flowers she put on everyone's plot. That was a quick drive-by, and then it was back to her place for an after-dinner tipple.
Yep, It was a busy several days, so even though we had stuff to do, Sunday had to be set aside for relaxation. Denise and I slept in and then rolled around most of the day. She put a great stew in the crock pot and when it was ready we shared it. It was a wonderful day.
Now I'm back in San Saba, sittin' here in the library, workin' this post out on my laptop, tryin' to get it finished so I can get outta here and give yet another exam.
I took advantage of the fact that we had substitute guards in the education building today. After my noon class finished their exam one of the offenders asked if we could get out of class early. I told him to go ask, thinking there was no way we'd get away with it. Sure enough, I was out of there by 1:30 and off to the Dairy Mart for the fourth time in as many weeks. I'm tellin' ya, I've GOT to stop eatin' like this... Some day. Gettin' away with shit is so much fun! Cheers!
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
Yep, I am. Well, I can argue that there were mitigating circumstances... But no, I'm an idiot.
If you remember, we were gonna go down to San Antonio this last weekend. Have a little romantic frolic in a nice hotel room with a balcony overlooking the river.
It all started out really well.
On the drive down, Friday afternoon, the Bluebonnets were bloomin' along the road and the sun was shinin'. The drive was beautiful. Spring had sprung. Most of the flowers came in bunches along highway 29, from 183 to Llano, but there were splotches of them all along the way to San Antone.
Fredericksburg was a great time. We got there at about 4PM, actually found a parking spot on the main drag (NEVER happens), and had dinner at the Auslander.
Well, that is, We had some food to go along with the beer. That's a 34 Oz. Paulaner Hefe-Weisen there that I'm totin'. 34 Oz. curls, we call that. Good exercise. Denise had a "Shandy".
The beer battered shrooms are always good. But this time, for the first time, we had to send the first batch back because they were cold. I think that was a waiters fault. It took him forever to bring them to us. They probably sat somewhere for ten or twelve minutes, cooling off, before we got them. Once we got the second, warm, right out of the oil batch, everything was OK.
Denise went for the German food. Some sort of Schnitzel, with mashed taters, green beans and a roll. As usual, I chose the Classic Hamburger with the works. As you see here, they bring it in two halves, and then you put it together.
Once you do, you need to cut it in half to get a good grip on it. Mmmmm, wonderful.
This was probably the high water mark of the day. Everything was great. You can see it on my face. I thought I'd planned for everything. The next two days and nights were gonna be awesome!
When the sun started to go down, as we drove south on 281 towards San Antone, I stopped to get my glasses out of the trunk. I couldn't help but notice the weather closing in. It was getting colder. That was the first hint of what was to come.
We got to town around 9:30 PM, did a few turns around down town, zeroin' in on the hotel. The place was a mad house.. Spring Break crowds overrunnin' the town.
Ok, LESSON NUMBER ONE: When you're making hotel reservations on Travelocity, ALWAYS make sure you're makin' 'em for the right month.
Mmmm,hmmm. Yep. It seems that when I made the reservations on Wednesday, I accidentally made them for JUNE!
I'd been checking into air fares for the fishing trip to Canada the first week of that month. After scopin' out what was available, having Travelocity open on the laptop, I decided to go ahead and make our hotel reservations. I closed out the flights and restarted with a hotel search. But I never realized that the pop-up months were still set for June.
So when we drove up to the Holiday Inn Riverwalk and got into the lobby, the lady behind the desk had to inform me that I'd made the reservations for June. It was Spring Break week, and every one of the hotels in town was full up, so there was nothing they could do.
I apologized profusely to Denise, and we got back into the car and began to search for a room. I think we went to at least six or eight places, getting further and further out of town, before we finally found a room at a Best Western near 1604 and 281.
When we got into the room I connected the laptop to the free DSL and clicked on Travelocity. I wanted to see what I could do. Simultaneously, I called Travelocity to see if I could talk someone on the Subcontinent into fixing my problem.
As I waded through the recorded options, the voice on the line told me that I could just cancel my reservations online. I started looking through the site and began to think that that would be the easiest thing to do. Even handy. Meanwhile, there's a noise in the background. One of those constant hums that seems to always bleed in between me and whatever I'm doing on the computer, or when I'm trying to concentrate on a TV show, or a movie, or whatever the fuck.
Of course, it was Denise. And it turns out that the stuff she was saying, in this instance, was stuff I REALLY should have been listening to. She was trying to remind me of the trouble our buddy Mushy had had a year or so ago when he tried to cancel his reservations for our weekend in Nashville. Turned out, the hotel was gonna charge him anyway, so he decided to come even though he was a little puny.
Never mind. I wasn't listening. I was trying to concentrate on the recording and what I was reading on the Travelocity page. I clicked on the cancel button and started reading through the resulting receipt. There it was in bold letters.
Total room charges... $356.09
Less hotel cancellation penalty... $356.09
TOTAL REFUND... ZERO!
You can imagine how much more deeply mired in shit I felt when I saw that. I talked to the Subcontinent, but they couldn't do anything for me.
So, LESSON TWO: When you've decided to cancel the reservations you've made on Travelocity, ALWAYS do it through a person on the phone... With the Subcontinent. That way they can plead your case with the stingy fucking hotel, and maybe, just maybe get you your money back.
When I clicked on that Cancel button in the computer, it's as if I was taking that $356.09 and tossing it into a shredder. I was completely destroyed. As low as I could be without actually ballin'.
Combine that with the inevitable "You never fucking listen to me" lecture that I had to sit through, sheepishly, then you get the basic feel for the rest of the evening and much of the next day.
Once that lecture (which, in this instance, I deserved) subsided I pored Denise a 7&7 and myself a stout Rum & Coke (with some of that really strong Bacardi 151), and laid out on one of the two queen sized beds - the one she wasn't on - and began going over the whole sordid drama in my head, over and over.
I was so depressed and pissed at myself I could hardly sleep. I finally took out a book and started reading it just to take my mind off my own stupidity. We got up late the next morning, showered and headed out to find a Denny's. The kid at the desk told us there was one down 281, off Bitters. We found it, waited in line for about fifteen minutes, and then I tried to drown my sorrows in cheesy, buttery, sweetness. I had a Moons-Over-My-Hammy, four slices of bacon and two pancakes slathered in butter and syrup.
After we finished breakfast, Denise decided she wanted to head down 281 and check out a cool looking shopping area called The Alamo Quarry Market. It's actually and old rock quarry and cement plant, with the old smoke stacks incorporated into the market. It's been turned into a shopping center. There's a multiplex theater, apartments, and a bunch of interesting stores and restaurants. We could have spent the whole day there.
Thing is, a cold front had blown through during the night, and a huge rain storm had swept through while we slept. It was the same storm that dumped snow on Dallas and Oklahoma City, and it was friggin' freezing there in the Quarry. The wind was blowin 30 MPH, makin' to temps in the 40 seem like the low 30s.
We spent some tome strolling through the Whole Earth Provision Store, donating a few bucks to the folks there who were working to adopt out some retired Greyhounds.
One of the stores there at the Quarry was a fancy cigar store called Club Humidor. It turned out to be the coolest Cigar store I've been to since my pal Mushy took me to the Leaf and Ale, outside Knoxville back in 2007. Club Humidor isn't quite as cool as the Leaf and Ale, but it's the closest I've seen so far.
While Denise wandered off, back into the cold (she can't stand cigar smoke), I perused the goods and picked out a half dozen souvenirs. About $50 later, I was outta there and we were headed back to the car. We spent some time in Borders Books and the Hallmark store, but after a while I couldn't get Denise interested in anything else. I'd seen Blanco Road on the hotel map we used to find the Denny's, and asked Denise if she'd mind a little sight seeing.
We drove back north to 410 and headed west towards Blanco. We saw the sprawling expanse of North Star Mall on the way. Denise ooed and aaed about the huge Macy's and talked about wanting to check all that out.
We got off 410 and headed north on Blanco, and I looked for the signs of anything that might be familiar. Sooner than I expected I came to the place were Eisenhower Middle school sits directly across from the light at Tammy Drive.
It's still there, my old school, and looks about the same as it did back then. I went to Eisenhower for about half of the seventh grade. I hated the place. It was a snake pit, made worse for me by the stuff that had gone on in my life in the few years before I got there, but that's another post.
Turn right off Blanco onto Tammy Drive, and then left onto Silhouette. Then drive along till you get to Serenade, almost to the end of the road, and then take another left. Drive up the hill to you get to the dead end, and the circle.
There it was, just on the right as you get to the circle. 823 Serenade. This is the house we lived in for a few years in the early 1970s, from the summer of 72 to 74, when my father retired for the Air Force. I think it was about the worst place we lived, for me anyway, of all the places we lived during my dad's career. I won't go into the details here. Just trust me. If I could have set the whole place of fire back then I think I would have. Hell, my sister might have beat me to it.
After I sat there for a while and looked at the old place, memories washing over me, we headed back down Blanco and over to North Star Mall. The huge Macy's, Penny's and Dillard's were callin' to Denise. I just wanted to try to let her have a good time, to make up for everything I'd screwed up the day before. I figure walkin' around while she shopped for about three or four hours might be at least a down payment on penance.
In the end, we had a pretty good time. We even found a Marble Slab ice cream place. We had a nice sit down there, where I consumed a scoop of Cheesecake ice cream and Heath Bar chocolate and toffee bits in a waffle cone. Mmmmmm, good!
By the afternoon, both of us were tired and ready to head home. The drive up 281 was just as pretty, and it felt really good to see the house again.
In retrospect, with all the stupidity aside, the trip wasn't all bad. We had some fun, and in the end, money is just money. I'm tryin' to think of it as tuition. lessons learned. I can make more money. Nobody died, so I've stopped kickin' myself about it. The further I get from it, the funnier it all seems. Jesus, what a dumbass!
I'm still thinkin' seriously about callin' that hotel up and cussin' them out. What the hell? keepin' the full fare when the reservations were canceled three friggin' months in advance? How is that not stealin'?
Anyway, I've got to go back to work. They're closin' the library on me here pretty soon. Y'all, be good, and remember these valuable lessons I learned for ya. It makes it less tedious if i can think that I might save someone else some trouble later by tellin' the tale.
Y'all be good. Cheers!
Friday, March 19, 2010
Happy 142nd birthday, if my math is correct. But there's a reason I don't teach math (click on any of these to see the larger image).
Anyway, your work has filled my imagination with wonder ever since I first set eyes on and thrilled at the details of an Indian war party...
or a fancifully laid out scene from actual history...
Or the first time I saw a buffalo hunt. Where else are these kinds of images portrayed with better skill and realism.
There's humor there too, like here, where a man comes back to camp and finds it's been invaded by curious critters...
Or here, where a morning breakfast is ruined by an unruly bronc. If you search through Russell's work, you'll be amazed how often he painted this scene.
My own imagination has been enriched and shaken, seeing myself in pictures like this one and wondering what it would have been like to live back then.
What a wonderful job you did for us all, and what a wonderful legacy you left to your country and your people. Here's hopin' you found a rich and wonderful reward, beyond "the pass on the Big Divide."
Happy Birthday Charles M. Russell. We're better off for havin' known ya. Cheers!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
First, OK, happy St. Patrick's day to everyone. In celebration of the day, I'll warn you. Just don't click on this. Mmmmm, I figured as much. Happy Holidays!
OK, now that that's over with. I filled out my census form last night. What a letdown. I opened it up and it looked like the friggin' SAT. I was expecting all sorts of tedious questions about the different aspects of my life and work. I was expecting to be angered by the invasion of my privacy. But then I started fillin' out the form and quickly realized that 90% of it was superfluous. It took about two minutes.
All they want to know is how old I am, do I own the house, my "race", which really means what color I am, and are there any other folks livin' in the house with me. Jebus, there was room for about 20 folks there. Who'd have that many people livin' in their house with them? Mormons? Mexicans? One of those fundamentalist couples that can't stop poppin' out kids, like they don't know how it happens?
Lets face it folks, there's only one race. the HUMAN race. Otherwise it's about ethnicity. When it comes to that, they only want details if you're not White. I mean, I could lay out my ethnic heritage... French Creole, German, Scots-Irish. And, being Southern, maybe there'd be some African and Cherokee in there too, but there's no space for that on the form. They only really want the dirty details of your ethnicity if you are a "minority". There's a box for Samoan, but not Scots-Irish. Hmmmm, I wonder why?
Like I said, there's space there to fill out the particulars for like 20 people who may be livin' in my house. But it's just Denise and I here, so the rest of the thing stayed blank. Yep, I filled in the info for Denise. She's been livin' here for close to three years. Then she'll have to fill out her own form when she get's around to goin' to her place and checkin' her mail. Does that mean she'll be counted twice?
Anyway, as I said, the plan for the weekend has finally come together. I've had the week off, but Denise only got half the week. She'll get off tonight, and we'll spend the night here. Then, Thursday morning, we'll drive down to Fredericksburg. We'll enjoy ourselves down there, eat some good food and drink some beer, and then we'll drive on down to San Antonio.
We've got reservations for two nights at the nice Holiday Inn on the river, with a balcony overlooking the water. Other than eating good food and having a great time, my one plan is to drive down to the Goliad mission and check it out. I've never seen it before, so I'm really looking forward to it.
Many of you may not know, not being from here, but the Goliad mission played a large part in the rebellion against Mexico in 1836. They never talk about it in the movies. They go from the heroic last stand at the Alamo to the victory at San Jacinto. But in the middle there, untold by Hollywood, there were several other battles, including the battle of Coleto Creek, and then the massacre that took place there at the Goliad. 342 some-odd men, walked out into the scrub and shot by firing squad. It's gonna be very interesting to finally see the place. It's been alive in my imagination for years.
Anyway, we plan to spend Thursday and Friday nights at the hotel, and then drive back home Saturday morning. That'll give us plenty of time to relax before we both have to go back to work on Monday. I'm sure I'll have cool pictures to show you after all that, so I'll see you again after all the merriment. Y'all be good,, and if ya can't be good, take pictures. Cheers!
Update: OK a shit storm has blown in to Denise's office, so we won't be goin' down to SA till Friday afternoon. Muh! WTF? Maybe Goliad on Saturday and Fredericksburg on Sunday, on the way home. We'll see.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Denise and I took Mom out to eat Friday night. It was Mom's turn to pick the place, and pay. That's how we keep from fightin' over the check every week. It works out fine.
We haven't been to the Olive Garden in ages. Mom loves it. Truth be told, so do I, but we usually get our Italian food at a few other spots in town. There's better places around here, more authentic feeling than the OG. But the salad and bread sticks are wonderful, so we always enjoy ourselves.
Denise went for the Chicken Marsala; Sautéed chicken breasts in a savory sauce of mushrooms, garlic and Marsala wine. Served with Tuscan potatoes and bell peppers.
We were all slobberin' over the picture of the Mixed Grill; Skewers of grilled marinated steak and chicken with a rosemary demi-glace, served with grilled vegetables and Tuscan potatoes. It's new in the menu. Mom decided to be the guinea pig.
I was torn over several dishes, but decided to go with an old favorite... The Seafood Alfredo; Sautéed shrimp and scallops tossed with creamy fettuccine alfredo. I've loved this dish for years. It's always good.
We killed two bins of salad between us, and then the main dishes arrived. The camera came out, and my womens both became bashful.
Witness protection program.
No doubt about it. God knows what they did, but nether one wants their picture taken. Makes ya wonder who yer really livin' with.
After the OG, it was back to Mom's place and a slice of her fresh pecan pie.
We relax in her bedroom, which she has set up as a den. back when Dad was alive, he spent most of his time in the kitchen watching his TV, and Mom stayed in here watching hers. Her bedroom is still set up that way, though dad's TV and chair are gone, replaced by a nice flat screen TV mom watches when she's in the kitchen.
Inevitably, one of her cats will jump up and want some lovin'. They provide her with a lot of love, and she gives back in triplicate.
Saturday, Denise and I slept in and were lazy all day. by the evening, nether of us were in the mood to go out. We hadn't had a pizza night in a while, so I called the Pizza palace here in town and ordered a large double decker.
It had ham, sausage, pepperoni and mushrooms, with extra cheese. I think there's a little left in the fridge, but it's not long for this world. The make the best pizza in town, hands down. There's something about their crust. It's just wonderful.
Sunday, yep, more lazy layin' around. By dinner time we were thinkin' about goin' out, then Denise asked me if a patty melt from Whataburger sounded good to me. Maybe you've seen the commercial?
I got down there to the drive-up window and found out they've stopped offering them. Couldn't believe it. They're a seasonal thing I guess. They only put them on the menu for a short time.
I told the girl in the window, "That's like handin' free Crack out at a school and then cuttin' folks off. It's just WRONG!" She laughed, then said "Yea, I love 'em too." Question is, why the hell do they pull shit like this?
We ended up with the new Grilled Chicken Melt; A grilled chicken breast, layered with melted Monterey Jack cheese, grilled bell peppers and onions, on a freshly toasted wheat bun, fries and one big chocolate shake that we shared.
That's it folks. That was our weekend. We rented a few movies too, but that's gonna wait for another post. This morning, Denise went off to work while I relaxed in from of this thing and then went back to bed. Spring Break. Cheers!
Friday, March 12, 2010
Can you see him there in the grass? He's just moved into the yard, takin' over from an older Tom who used to run things.
She mourns the exit of the earlier fellow, but puts dry food out for this one, which, of course, is why he's moved in. Or wait, maybe it's because he's a...
Pet Cemetery kitty!?!?! Buwaahahaha! Ooo, I scared myself.
Yea, I know. Pffft! Reauuuuuu! Fffft! Ffft! Cachunk, PING! Yep, that'd do it.
We'll be headin' over there later to get Mom and take her out to eat... Chinese food! Wooooohooooo!
Mmmmmm, can you smell it? Pfew, I pity you poor folks. You can look but you can't touch. Well, you can. you just gotta get your asses to Texas! What the hell you waitin' for? How many more of these shots do I have to post? Damn!
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Went to the annual Wilson Family Reunion last Sunday near Belton. Been goin' to these things ever since I can remember.
For instance, here's a shot from the 1970s. My folks are in there on the right, and my Uncles and Aunts (my fathers three brothers and their wives), and me, peekin' over everyone's heads from behind.
You can see here that I still stand a head taller than all the others. That's my cousins Bobby and Larry there (son's of Sam Wilson), John (Son of Johnny Mack, in the vest), and our one remaining uncle, Uncle Punk.
We all come together on the first Sunday of March to see one another and keep the memory alive of our Great Grandfather, W.S.S. Wilson (here on the right). He's the guy who came to Texas in the late 1800s from Alabama. He eventually accumulated something like 800 acres of land, being farmed (cotton) by his son's, as well as many other sharecroppers.
When he died in the 1930s, his second wife sold off all but a little of that land, pocketed the cash and moved to California, leaving her husband's other sons and daughters with nothing. My Grandfather...
The man you see here, got $200 in the will. He was a sharecropper until World War Two came along, and my father sent enough of his pay home from the Army to allow them to begin to make payments on a house. Then, later, they bought a farm near Holland, Texas.
The shot above was taken at a reunion in Holland the 1950s, back when folks used to dress up for such a shindig.
By the time this shot was taken, around 1990, all the brothers had aged a bit. That's Mack on the left, my father, Punk (the youngest), and the oldest brother, Sam, on the right. Punk talked to me this last Sunday, telling some of the same old stories I'd heard before. He said that while his three older brothers would always be quick to defend him, they hated one another with a passion and were quick to fight. I witnessed a little of that years ago, between my dad and his brother Sam. They were both in their 70s, but the sibling anger was still there.
Punk retold an old story about a day back in the 1930s when, as children, they all went down to the river to bathe. Sam kept pushing Punk into the water. He didn't know how to swim, and Sam kept shoving him back in as he got to the edge. He says my dad came up, pulled Sam up and the two went at it. They were both in their late teens by then, but Punk was probably only 6 or 7. He says he tried to stop them, but the anger from years and years was fueling their fight.
Sam ended up with a crooked nose that day, and my dad became the Alpha Male in the group. He stayed there, at least in his own mind, until he'd outlived both Sam and Mack, and aged to the point that his mind began to drift back to an older, easier time and memory. Now I can see Punk doing that. It's as if the past is more alive in him that the present.
Today, the focus of the reunion has begun to shift to my generation. With a few exceptions, like my aunt Betty here (Sam's second wife and Bobby and Larry's mom), and old Punk, we're the geezers now. It's been interesting to see that transition take place. Painful too, but inevitable. There are always a few new babies and/or grandchildren every year, as we all get a little older and our elders become fewer and fewer.
I used to think that once my folks died (Mom is still goin' strong, but doesn't enjoy these reunions), I'd stop coming to these things. I guess I never felt like I fit in that well with all of these folks. They all grew up here together, on farms or in a rural setting here in Central Texas. They all had the slow, stable, rural upbringing that my folks had had.
Mom and dad used to always remind sis and I of that peaceful, happy time as we moved from one Air Force posting to another. Through that telling, and occasional visits, my sister and I grew up feeling both a part of this extended family, and set apart from it. Part of it, through heritage, but really not apart of it at all. We knew these people, but hardly knew them. We found out, as we got older and talked about these things, that we both had grown up desperately wanting to have lived here and had the lives our parents described. We couldn't appreciate the coolness of our own lives in the moment, growing up in places like Bermuda and England, because we were always dreaming about this place.
My sister still feels very strongly that we missed out on something, not having grown up here, but my feelings have changed a bit with age. I still dream about what might have been, but I also appreciate the fact that our travels were a rich experience, one that all my cousins grew up envying. It's funny. They wanted what we had, and we wanted what they had.
Punk said something else to me this time that was interesting. He wishes he'd been older back then, so that he could have been more a part of his brothers lives. He was only about six or eight when my dad left to join the Army in 1942. He wishes he'd been older, so that he could have had more time to grow up with them. I told him I'd had the same feeling.
After years of wishing that I'd grown up here, I now find myself drifting off from time to time, wishing I'd been born about ten years earlier. I could have gotten to know my grandfathers, and taken part in a lot of the fun that I grew up hearing about, but which seems to have mostly ended by the time I was old enough to take part.
So, both Punk and I found a kinship in the notion that it really sucks to be the youngest in the family, but we're both still here. Sometimes, when I look at my uncle, I see myself in 30 years... the only one left, surrounded by folks who don't really know what your life was about, constantly drawn to memories of the past.
That's a pretty depressing notion, but I don't think ether of us have suffered too much. We've both turned out pretty good, Punk and I, and we'll deal with whatever comes, as it comes. What the hell else can we do?
Of course, one of the rituals at the reunion is the pot-luck lunch.
The spread is usually pretty good. Lots of casseroles, potato salads, pot roasts and store bought fried chicken.
Usually Mom cooks some chicken, or something else for me to bring. But this time I decided to do some BBQ pork ribs. They're easy, and I think they turned out pretty good. I think there were four or five pieces left in the end, from what had been two racks at the start of the day.
At about noon or noon thirty, the master of ceremonies makes announcements about those who are there and maybe who's passed in the last year, and then we bow our heads in prayer. It's hard not to get emotional then, but I've gotten pretty good at stuffing my emotions.
Then the line forms and the feed begins. Being by myself this time (Denise was puny and couldn't come), I chose to sit with my Uncle Punk, my Barber...
My cousin Peggi, and her family. You've seen her around here before. She's a sweetie.
As we killed one plate after another, Punk said something about how nobody could ever say the Wilson's couldn't cook. I replied with something like "Or eat ether." Everyone laughed.
After the feed, the crowd slowly drifts away, and the reunion comes to an end. Driving home, I decided to go by the cemetery and visit Dad. That's when the tears finally came. I tried to go visit mom then but she wasn't home, so I called the little woman and headed home.
By the evening, I was ready to snack again, so I nuked the last remnants of those two racks and Denise and I shared them. It was a good day, and there'll be many, many more to come. Cheers.