Saturday, December 25, 2010
Had a great Christmas Eve.
Geogal and I both had yesterday off. Time for being lazy and time for constant noshing. (Both of us completed our gift shopping.)
On Sunday I did my annual trek to Kearney to hit the big box retailers. Unlike the previous two years there was not:
Temperatures hanging just above zero with a death-inducing wind chill
Snow falling and accumulating at a MUCH higher rate than forecast by the weather prognosticators
In fact the temps were just a smidge below freezing, which makes it the warmest Christmas shopping journey I’ve had since moving here from Arizona. I also had my Sirius satellite radio which meant I could while away the boring 90-minutes-one-way-drive with NFL action. Hot coffee and plenty of sugar ensured I remained engaged in the driving but created a cruddy and bizarre mood upon returning home (just a bit too many free radicals coursing through my system).
Browsed around iTunes a few days ago, added to my Christmas music playlist. Finally they have the ORIGINAL version of Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree.” Also added Johnny Mathis’ playful crooning of “Sleigh Ride.” Both are songs I’ve heard on the radio every Christmas season and as any regular reader to this blog will know, many of my happy memories are associated with travel.
Regarding the Mathis version of “Sleigh Ride,” I distinctly remember one of the times I heard it. Just a few days before Christmas in 1989, driving (with dad, mom, and younger Geosister) toward our destination in Texas. We hit Amarillo about midday and it was a beautiful bright sunny day. Then we passed by a truckstop with one of those large lit signs that indicated the temperature was 4. “Has to be a mistake,” I thought. Then the radio announcer gave a current temp. The sign was right.
A blast of Arctic air was going over the region.
It’s funny, as I was remembering that trip our local paper had a small blurb headlined: “Are you cold yet?” It indicated that while the past few weeks featured “biting cold temperatures” it still doesn’t come close to the time period I just mentioned. On Dec. 22, 1989, approximately 137 cities in the Central Plains and eastern United States set record lows. In this area of Kansas, for example, Goodland recorded a low of 27 below zero.
And that’s probably not taking wind chill into account.
I’ll use this space to wish all of my readers a Merry Christmas. Please don’t forget what this season is really about: celebrating the birth of Jesus, who lived a sinless life and then died (taking every sin committed by all human beings past, present, and future) on Himself in order to reconcile mankind to God. If you haven’t invited Him into your heart why not do so on Christmas Day?
As I write this I’m the only one in the house who’s up at this time. (It’s almost 7:30 a.m.) Amazingly the little girl is still snoozing away. But that’s OK, we’ll have the traditional activities soon enough. (I’ve already taken a glance at my stocking--just looking, no touching.)
The coffee tastes good, the living room is ready, and just a little later I’ll season the prime rib roast and pop it in the oven.
I’ll leave you with just a bit of Christmas kitsch, quite possibly my most favorite novelty Christmas song:
Monday, December 06, 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
I couldn't stay awake last night to watch the outcome of the Nebraska-Oklahoma game.
Now I'll struggle to stay awake during some of these (blecch) bowl games.
And the NFL is no consolation prize. Their games tend to be bigger snoozefests than some of the college matchups.
The Beginning of Real Winter. Woke up to a light dusting of snow. Light enough that just about all of it has melted by now.
I'll enjoy that detail as it lasts. Before I know it the roads will be snowpacked, icy, and will require finesse to navigate. Not to mention brushing powder off of the truck in the morning.
Do I have a BCS pick? Oregon.
Listen to the hype about Cam Newton and tell me that doesn't light a fire under the Ducks. Not to mention they will be looking for January redemption after that embarrassing Rose Bowl defeat in 2010.
Should be a very good game. Brawn versus swift.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Over the past few days I've felt like a phlegm factory.
(Readers are now thinking: Ewwww, Geoguy! Too much information!)
Yesterday I finally heeded Geogal's direction and saw the P.A. She put me on a Z-pack as it appears I have a sinus infection.
Needless to say, I haven't been real active for the past week. But I have had a chance to get some reading done. Finally read H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine." I'm now recommending little Geoana read it, she should be able to get some AR points and enjoy one of the first works of science fiction at the same time.
The week prior I enjoyed a couple of books my wife got me through the local library system. One fiction and one nonfiction.
Nonfiction: Going Home to Glory by David Eisenhower
Fiction: Trophy Hunt by C.J. Box
I strongly advocate both. They do well to feed one's inner historian leanings and sense of outdoor adventure.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
That flick losing its performers doesn't throw me too much. IAMMMMW was a bit before my time.
Not "Airplane." I remember seeing this one in the movie theater. With my mom, younger sister, and three cousins. I remember it well. After only one viewing I could recount certain scenes with the best of them.
So to hear that Leslie Nielson died a few days ago was sobering. Now Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, Peter Graves, Barbara Billingsley, and Leslie have all left us. But, as with the previously mentioned movie, the celluloid/videocassette/DVD/Blu-Ray/insert next format here will always be around for our enjoyment.
Might just have to watch "Airplane" this weekend.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
News yesterday about TCU bolting the Mountain West to join the Big East has me thinking that college pigskin is rapidly becoming less about tradition, loyalty, and geography and more about the big payout.
Did the upper echelon of Horned Frogs even consider the Big 12? And vice versa?
Probably not, on both counts.
Still, it's hard to blame TCU for the move. They want to be part of an AQ conference and the Big East wanted a football power. Putting a consistent winner on the field brings prestige, money, exposure, money, respect, and money.
Yet I can't stop thinking about the not-so-good schools in Division I football. My own alma mater of New Mexico State University among them.
The NMSU Aggies will keep playing and keep losing most of the time. They'll attract folks to the stadium for the home games, yet the crowds will be small and the cheers will be faint.
How much longer? How much longer can a school such as this continue to field a perpetually poor team? How much longer can NMSU be in the basement of FBS teams? How much longer can an institution put up with being a punching bag on the gridiron?
Hard to say. Maybe 10 more years, perhaps 15 or 20.
If any of you think I'm being far too pessimistic, allow me to remind you of a conference called the Big West. This is the conference NMSU belonged to when I was a student there. It still exists, with several of the same schools (UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach, University of the Pacific).
None of these schools has football anymore.
I'm sure the reasons are many, but the fact that these institutions were never very competitive on the football field is the main factor (just my humble opinion).
When will NMSU throw in the towel and dump the football program?
Tick, tick, tick.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Disappointing but not surprising. First, being opening weekend in one of the best pheasant hunting habitats in North America meant sharing the Walk-In Hunting Areas and public land with a cadre of men decked out in blaze orange. One of my hunting companions for Saturday and Sunday knows a couple of landowners but hadn't made arrangements with either by opening day. No matter, the little one and I will have more chances to take down a rooster or two whether it's on private or public land. After all, we're locals.
(As an aside let me list the out-of-state plates I saw from November 12th on: Texas [a whole lot of Lone Star State guys], Missouri, Colorado, Iowa, Oklahoma, and even Georgia. And those are just the ones I happened to view, no doubt we had many more visitors.)
Second, we don't have a dog. It's a disadvantage but right now I don't even have a fenced backyard and I have strong objections to keeping Fido chained to a tree all day. Fortunately I have a couple of hunting friends who own bird dogs albeit not the best-trained ones.
Third, I didn't even get one shot off either day. Sure didn't flush any roosters but the weekend's work achieved a little redemption when, late Sunday afternoon, I saw a rooster while driving by a WIHA we had hit the previous day. Why didn't I try for that one? Mainly because I want to be an ethical hunter. Sure, I could have stopped the truck, loaded my gun, hopped the fence, and tried to get said rooster to fly but how do I know there is not a group of hunters driving this pheasant into an open stubble field? Also I was with two other guys, both of whom have young sons that were riding with me. I didn't want to give those elementary-school aged boys a visual example of bad behavior even if what I did was completely within the law (since this was WIHA-designated land I would not have been trespassing).
I used the opening weekend as a lesson for Geoana. Often times you will go out hunting and return empty-handed. However there will be other times when you might get four roosters (the daily limit) within the span of a morning. I also took plenty of time to teach her what I have learned thus far: walking the edges of fields, stopping to listen, being mindful of other hunters, identifying likely habitat, and just enjoying the outdoors. After all, to borrow an oft-used cliche: The worst day of hunting is still better than the best day at the office!
Then there is more teaching. The saddest sight of the weekend came when, while walking through a CRP stand, I found a dead pheasant hen. Since she had not yet been scavenged I presume she was shot that very day. Geoana didn't seem too distressed but her friend, the daughter of one of my hunting partners, was upset. (This is not a delicate-flower type of girl as she has gone hunting with her father for many years.) For the rest of the day this young lady (she's almost 12) kept asking why we could not take the carcass with us and I kept answering that to have a pheasant hen in one's possession, regardless of who committed the kill, is against the law. I shared with both of the girls that the hen probably was not poached deliberately. More likely a group of hunters stirred up some birds and momma hen was accidentally shot along with the roosters.
At least I hope that's what happened.
I'm taking a vacation day this coming Wednesday. Geoana will be out of school by then for the Turkey-Day break and we'll do some more hunting. Should have the public areas more to ourselves since the out-of-towners will likely head home after today.
Who knows? Just might get a pheasant yet. After all, I'm a local!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Here in Totoland guys (and some gals as well) are counting down the hours and minutes until Saturday morning.
Opening day of pheasant season, 2010 version.
Just try finding a hotel or motel room anywhere around here. Anywhere in the central and western part of the state for that matter.
Business owners are happy, restaurants and retailers do well. Bars certainly see an uptick.
And for the Geohouse? I'm ready, a whole heckuva lot more so than last year.
Let's contrast. In 2009 I didn't get my hunting clothing out until the night before opening day. That's when I discovered the camo pants Geogal got for me (at a yard sale) were Army-issue and meant for the warm climate.
A quick trip to the local sporting-goods store resulting in the purchase of thermo-warm psuedo long-johns took care of that problem.
In 2010? I'll be wearing the skin-tight underwarmers again. No last minute panic here. However I won't be slavish to the camo look. Turns out for upland bird hunting the only important color is blaze orange. Lots of it.
Also for my recent birthday Geogal got me an upland bird hunting vest from Cabela's. Snazzy and utilitarian. Hope to carry some rooster carcasses in the game bag area.
Arms? Last year it was using my dad's Stevens Savage 16 gauge, he gave it to me seeing as he hasn't hunted since probably before I was born. I had no experience firing the thing.
This year? My own Remington 12 gauge. Also spent some time out at the gun range since August. Last Sunday little Geoana and I had a time breaking the clays. My shooting is improving. And I'll bring along the trusty sixteener as a backup.
In November 2009 I didn't even know what CRP meant much less its significance in pheasant hunting. Today? Conservation Reserve Program means a portion of farmed land being allowed to go fallow, providing great cover for the birds.
Ammo? Size 4 shot, by consensus this is the best load for pheasants. Did I know any of this last year? (Embarrassment prevents me from answering that query.)
Here's hoping this season reaps rewards!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
No, I'll just do the usual and share my thoughts about things.
I don't read it regularly since I live in Kansas but I'm willing to bet the January 2011 issue of Texas Monthly (every January features their "Bum Steer" awards) will declare either Jerry Jones or the Dallas Cowboys franchise as their "Bum Steer of the Year." Why? You know why.
Not only that, but you can't have Rick Perry being the top award winner every year.
Walked up from the basement to get my second cup of coffee this morning and was greeted with a view of a whitetail doe in my backyard, helping herself to what remains of the garden.
Just like the hunters she too is getting ready for the rut.
Speaking of hunting the pheasant season opening day is less than two weeks away. I was thinking about this just the other day (hey, I don't think about it ALL the time--I have other interests too). If I get only one bird this year it will be an improvement over last year.
One bird. After that everything else is gravy.
Hmmmmmm, gravy with a roasted bird sounds pretty good.
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Last Friday I drove to Nebraska and the thermometer was over 90. Had to turn on the AC. In early October. In this area. What the hey???
Last night, though, little pockets of frost. And I noticed tonight as I was taking the raked leaves to the curb that it was getting chilly fast.
Time to break out the long sleeves and start brewing some decaf in the evenings!
You know you're getting old when:
You go to a classic car show and the second prize winner is a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am.
Saw a lovely sight last Friday morning. I took the day off from work, and instead engaged in a fair amount of yard work. After finishing the tasks I got all the clippings together and hauled them off to the landfill.
After turning off the main highway I slowed down and, sure enough, there were four pheasant roosters getting ready to cross the road.
Season's just a little over a month away.
Thursday, September 30, 2010
A little has changed. First I still could not pull in KHAS, channel 5 (yes, they use RF 5 for their digital signal for reasons unknown to me). Given the frequency is in low-band VHF I almost have to be within a few blocks of the tower to receive it adequately with my low grade rabbit ears. The other two major stations were no problem, KGIN on 11 and KHGI on 13. Both high-band VHF, both towers were much closer to my location, and both have sufficient power for a constant signal. KGIN still broadcasts The CW on its .2 subchannel with a low-grade SD picture in contrast with the HD CBS sports programming I saw on 11.1 (a SEC matchup).
The biggest surprise was KHGI. Not only do they have ABC programming in HD on their 13.1 channel but they now have Fox on the .2 subchannel. Fox also was in HD.
That's right. Two 720p signals on one frequency. Now that's a good use of bandwidth!
With Fox programming now on KHGI I noticed the previous Fox affiliate, KTVG, is off the air. For good most likely. Interesting. I wonder if this is a harbinger for some other markets particularly where there is a duopoly. If you can move programming to subchannels then why continue to burn electricity and deal with the high overhead if you don't have to?
By the way, I got quite a few legal ID screen capture pictures from my summer journeys. I'll post them soon over at my companion blog.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I cherish my alone time. I am an introvert (every time I take the Myers-Briggs I score as a very strong "I") and as such I derive strength and stamina from taking a break from interacting with others, even my own family.
Therefore I took the 90 minute or so journey (one way) with a little cash in the pocket. Ironically I was engaging in a very un-manly-man activity: clothes shopping. I only did this because I had to. A couple of my professional dress slacks had finally had their day and I needed to find replacements.
First stop was Cabela's, but not to buy sporting goods. Yes they do carry mens causal clothing and I have in my closet two pairs of Cabela's-branded slacks that are holding up well. Even before I hit the road I knew my purchases would not be of the "fun" variety. Still, that didn't prevent me from browsing and doing the lookie loo with the hope I can always return in the near future and procure myself an upland hunting vest or a box of turkey-load shotshells.
That day the inside of Cabela's was populated with reps from various hunting and outdoor-related groups (Ducks Unlimited being one example). Several times the guys at the different tables apparently felt the need to "out-call" one another and engaged in loud use of different calls, the dominant ones being duck and turkey. They did this so often even I got tired of the noises.
But never mind that. Turns out the Kearney Cabela's store doesn't carry the pants I'm looking for. Must be due to their very limited floor space (it's easy to contrast this retail location with their behemoth in Buda, Texas).
Aaaaggh! God why must you be cruel to me?
(The above only took place in my mind. When you're alone you don't talk out loud to yourself in a public place.)
My pragmatic self kicked in and I headed to J.C. Penney. Found and bought what I needed. Mission accomplished.
On the way back home I made a stopover at the Fort Kearny State Historic Site. There's a state park-type campground nearby and I figured a reconnoiter was in order. Nice campground, spacious and plenty of trees. Then I notice a cornfield just off of the park property. Not exactly in the wilderness, are we?
Then it dawns on me. This might not be in the wilderness but it sure beats having to bear-proof your campsite. (It's what one has to do while in or near Yellowstone.)
Works for me! Maybe we'll head here with our friends one of these weekends.
I then head home. Alone is good but it is definitely a time-limited activity. Can't have too much of a good thing.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Yesterday, though, we woke up to gray skies, a chilly breeze, and a whole huckuva lot of moisture in the air. The thermometer was near 50.
The leaves are falling, the squirrels are loading up on the black walnuts, and hunting season for certain game gets ever closer.
As a reminder, just last week we began seeing the annual wildlife festival in our own backyard. Turkey hens ambling along as nicely as can be. Little Geoana got a chance to use her turkey call (Christmas goodie from Santa) and see the gobblers react.
I won't be hunting only pheasant this fall and winter. In fact the Remington 870 should do quite well for turkey hunting considering I can use 3-inch shells. Might just need to get a camo kit for it so the sun hitting a new shiny gun doesn't tip off my prey.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Summer's pretty much departed (it will exit officially next week) and so too goes the camping season.
Talked to a friend yesterday, he asked if I was ready to put the camper in mothballs for the winter months. I paused, then replied: "Maybe not. Perhaps if the right opportunity presents itself." I'm not sure what that would be, but since the rig proved itself worthy over the past few months (both in hot and cool temps) I'm not above taking her out again before the snow falls.
Besides, I can see myself using the pop-up to go on a hunting trip one of these years....
Fall means football! Cooler temps! Getting ready for hunting! And...
The real deal. Hatch real.
I was on my feet most of Saturday, roasting those peppers 'till the skin is nearly off. My soles ached big time by the end of the day but the effort was worth it. I've already made chile verde (pork roast seasoned to perfection, cooked in the Crock Pot until falling apart, then add chile as desired, serve with warm flour tortilla) and green chile salsa. I'll make my specialty dish, simply called "green chile," sometime soon. Very soon.
Camping in Yellowstone was fun, both in challenging and relaxing ways. As in most National Parks, we were "off the grid." Question: Geoguy, how'd you make your morning coffee without being able to use your trusty Krups?
Answer: Plan ahead and use what you can.
How'd I do it? I bought whole bean coffee at the Albertson's in Cody (last civilization stop before entering the park). Brought my French press. Brought my coffee bean grinder. And bought a power inverter on the drive out there.
Set up Coleman stove, boil water. Turn on truck's engine, plug in inverter. Use electric grinder to break up the beans coarsely. Dump beans into French press. Add boiling water. Press. Let sit. Enjoy.
That, my friends, is how you get creative if you don't have 30 amp or your own generator.
All of my readers know I'm hoping to take down a few pheasants this fall and winter. Here's hoping preparation makes a difference this time around. For last year, I did the hunter education, talked with a friend once or twice, took the shotgun to a gunsmith, got ammo, got an orange cap, and set out.
This year? Learn about habitat. Talk to experienced hunters. Practice practice practice. Get a new shotgun. Practice. Learn about shot size and what load works best for which game. Peruse 2010 Kansas Hunting Atlas. Make plans to scout out areas beforehand. Talk to more hunting friends.
Here's hoping I'll serve a pheasant dish to the family sometime before spring.
Maybe turkey as well.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
Hunting season is near. Dove and quail season begins Wednesday but I'll have to wait until November 13 to start shooting pheasant. No matter, I have to put in a LOT of practice with the skeets.
Got started with that today, in fact. I joined the local gun range club (just call me Dale Gribble). Several folks were out there this very day for a blue-rock shooting contest. Despite my lack of experience (and skill) they were welcoming of this newcomer and gave me plenty of coaching which turned me from a miss-everything greenhorn into a "at least I got a few of them" beginner.
Heck, I even got three in a row during one of the rounds.
A little more about the guns. Yes, plural. I may have mentioned some time ago in this blog that Geodad gave me two of his old guns (a couple of years ago). I added one more firearm to my home arsenal a few weeks ago. Our local sporting goods retailer had the Remington 870 Express at a price I just couldn't pass up. (I'd been researching the classifieds and concluded I could get a brand new model for not much more than the used ones were selling.) I bought the 12-gauge model. No regrets. Now, instead of getting just one shot at a bird I can fire as much as five times (and probably still miss).
Any hunter reading the last sentence knows I'm being sarcastic. To get any more than two shots at a bird would require a very slow and hopelessly dumb fowl.
But back to the events of today. I shot two boxes of shells (50 rounds total) and have a rather tender right shoulder to show for it (that 12-gauge has some recoil!). I started with the 12-gauge (the first time I ever fired it) and then did another sequence with the vintage 16-gauge. I finally hit my stride with the sixteener and sent several florescent orange targets to skeet heaven.
Now that I belong to the gun club (although they haven't showed me the secret handshake yet) I can go to the range most anytime and practice to my heart's content. Yes, they have a couple of battery-operated traps. I just need to supply the blue rock (inexpensive) and of course buy my shotshells (12 gauge is much cheaper then the 16 gauge variety).
I also want to get little Geoana out there and have her try a 20-gauge.
Other things? Did a fair amount of camping over the summer. Since buying our rig in April we have camped in Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Texas, and Oklahoma. I've got a feeling Colorado won't be far off.
The last leg of our Texas vacation found us overnighting in Oklahoma City. I wanted to yell at the top of my lungs: "Sam Bradford is overrated!" but I showed proper restraint.
College football is almost here. Just like anyone else who has an interest in Texas schools, I'm waiting to see what happens to the Big 12-For-Now Conference. Will Texas and Texas A&M wind up in separate conferences? Seems like anything can happen these days.
My as-yet-unshared aspiration for our garden was to make salsa using only the fruits of our backyard. Sorry, won't happen. While the tomatoes have really taken off (a couple have overgrown their cages) and the Big Jim green chiles look healthy, the cilantro died while we were in Texas and the onions...well just read the last blog entry.
That's all for now. Back in a few days with more drivel.
Saturday, July 31, 2010
As part of our decompression-from-traveling and get-back-into-normal-life routine, Geogal and I decided to head out to the garden. Lots of weeds, as expected, but it appeared some of the Yukon Gold potatoes were ready for harvest (vines were dead). So, with spade and bowl we started digging.
Hmm. A bit disappointing.
The potatoes were there but diminutive in size. I didn't intend on reaping a crop of new potatoes. Plus a few of our yellow onions were ready as well.
See for yourself.
But life's not all bad. Turns out our yellow squash is producing well.
I joked with Geogal, saying it's a good thing we don't live in a hunter/gatherer society today. Given my lack of ability to bring down game birds and our teeny-tiny veggies we would likely starve. Unless we could barter services of some kind.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Yep, in the throes of summer. Upper 90 degree temps and all. Oddly enough after the Fourth of July I began thinking a lot about hunting season. (For the curious, pheasant season here doesn't begin until November 13.) Last Monday (a holiday for all of us) we spent the afternoon and evening at a friend's property. I mentioned my recent preoccupation with hunting. He paused for a moment then said "Yes, July 4th has now come and gone. Sounds like you're right on schedule." I think getting out the shotguns has crossed his mind as well.
What have I learned so far from camping this summer?
1) The pop-up can hold up under a storm fairly well.
The first leg of our trip found us overnighting in Sidney, Nebraska. Why there? Not only was it a good stopping place for the night but the Cabela's retail store there beckoned. We've been to several of their brick-and-mortar sites but as Sidney is the headquarters (the company was founded in nearby Chappell in 1961) there's something special about this location. Plus they have a campground in between the retail store and the corporate building. We set up camp, had dinner at a local steakhouse (it won't be named as we can't recommend it) and then went back to do some shopping.
And then the sky opened up.
Severe thunderstorm warning. Pouring rain. Drenched. There's this frightening feeling when you're in the store and hearing torrents hammering the glass roof. I'm talking to one of the salespeople and she said if we hear a "Code Brown" being issued (tornado spotted), find an outfitter (their term for salesperson/associate/team member) who will direct us to the shelter.
That didn't happen but it was enough to kick away my relaxed feeling. We finished up the shopping, I ran out to get the vehicle (thank God we didn't walk over to the store from the campground) and drove under the overhang to pick up the rest of my clan. We returned to the campsite and realized that while there were a few wet spots under one of the bunks, overall the inside was dry.
Sleep (what little we got of it that night) was scarce and fitful. But come morning the storm had moved on and we started to break camp. We were rocked back and forth all night long from the high wind but that little Coleman Cedar did its job well.
2) Yellowstone can get rather cold, even in June.
The last morning there we awoke to 24 degree temperatures. Our camper being what it is (simple and small), we don't have a heater or A/C. The whole Geofamily learned how to throw off the blankets and get dressed quickly in such scenarios.
Builds character, right?
Overall our Yellowstone stay was memorable. The weather cooperated for the most part (only one nasty day) and meeting up with our Arizona friends was a pleasure. Not to mention wildlife, such as opening up my camper door and being greeted with two bucks grazing no more than 15 feet away. Still had velvet on their antlers.
3) Wyoming is larger than it looks on a map.
We left our campground at Yellowstone on a Friday morning and arrived at our hotel in Cheyenne 500 miles later. Did a diagonal across the state. For all of the beauty and grandeur of Yellowstone and Grand Teton there are plenty of places in the state that can make you utter, sotto voce, "Dear God, please just kill me now."
Miles and miles of nothing.
Not to say we won't re-visit The Equality State again. Both Geogal and I enjoyed our time in Thermopolis (the second night's camp, much calmer weatherwise than Sidney) and would go there again in a heartbeat. Not to mention Cody, which has enough to do that you could spend the better part of a week there. Hmmmm, maybe next year.....
4) We're getting more adept at camping.
It's just something that you enjoy more with experience. So far as a family we've camped 8 nights (I also used it for an overnight a couple of weeks ago, but that was by myself) since buying the thing in April. With each trip we're getting better.
And in contrast with some of these behemoths we see at campgrounds (some of these RV's and fifth wheels cost more than my house, I'm sure), my rig is paid for! (I also get better gas mileage, even if I don't have all of the comforts of a hard-sided rig.)
Check back here for more camping-related rants, I'm sure.
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Got Geogal a rain gauge last Saturday. She has coworkers who live out in the country (way out, in some cases). They always like to compare what their rain gauges show after the latest cloudburst.
She came home for lunch today and said the gauge had "ten one-hundredth of an inch" in it.
I replied: "You mean......one-tenth of an inch?"
"Yes," was the answer. "But you have to understand that phrasing I just used is how farmers around here talk."
I explained that in elementary school I was always being marked down on my math homework for not reducing my fractions far enough. Mom even tried to beat it into my head: "Remember to reduce, reduce, reduce!"
Too bad Mom lives several hundred miles away. She'd be happy I remembered the childhood lesson.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Still getting used to the camper. Took her down yesterday afternoon, the temperature got warm enough to dry out the canvas. Even got a little sun.
(When did northwest Kansas turn into Seattle? I don't mind a little rain once in a while but yeeesh!)
I'm getting more confident with setting the thing up and taking her down. I even figured out the stabilizer jacks (I can't say the manual was real helpful in this sense.)
What did I learn? Make sure you have rain gear stowed in the camper. Don't drink too much water too close to bedtime. Tell Geogal why I'm getting up. Geogal keeps her iPod Touch under her pillow. It's OK for little girls to have fun in the camper before bedtime. Rain can have a hypnotic effect. The camper doesn't leak. Make sure all of us have plenty of reading material before heading out on a real camping trip. Press the "reset" button on the electric receptacle before giving up on using the Krups coffeemaker. Just because I'm camping doesn't mean I have to make my coffee strong. Camping can be fun. Yellowstone will be a blast!
Last but certainly not least: Make sure the lid on the water dispenser is closed up tight before going beddy-bye. Yes, it was only a dream but you never know.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Even though we’ve had the pop-up for over a month now we still hadn’t used it, per se. Not for lack of desire, rather it’s just been problems with scheduling and commitments. Last weekend was little Geoana’s (belated) birthday party, a very labor-intensive endeavor. The weekend before that, a church function. The weekend previous--well, you get the idea.
During this past week I decided to get the rig up on Saturday even if it’s only in the driveway. Sleeping one night in the thing might just give us the chance to see how things feel, what we need to buy and/or keep in the camper, and help prepare us for the maiden voyage.
We even let little Geoana have one of her friends over, although I realized a little too late that this might resemble more of a giggling-girl-slumber-party vibe than an actual campout (unless girl-dominant camping trips involve inane conversations and boy-bashing exchanges). I finally had to tell them, in loud and no uncertain terms, that if they didn’t quiet down they could leave the camper and head down to the basement. It worked.
Geogal joined me in this out of the house but-not-off-the-property overnighter. I full well expected her to enjoy the luxury of having the master bedroom all to herself but the girls persuaded her to slumber in our “tent with wheels.”
Once darkness fell and the girls got quiet it was time to allow Morpheus to do his thing. Not surprisingly it took me a while. Often does when I’m in a new or unfamiliar environment and other humans in close proximity (Geogal excepted) doesn’t help.
Start drifting off to sleep. Then I hear “tunk.....tunk.......tunk......tunk...tunk..tunk, tunk, tunk, TUNK.”
I expected this. Been keeping my eye on the forecast since Friday. And Geogal (enjoying the driveway campground’s wi-fi) used her iPod Touch to access the weather info.
I remember reading what someone once wrote, somewhere, about how camping allows you to be lulled to sleep by the soundtrack of Mother Nature. Including rain. Rather than stress about the cloudburst I tried to use the rhythm as something relaxing. It worked.
Woke up some time later. Still dark. Still raining (although in a canvas-covered shelter even the smallest raindrops can sound menacing.
I’ve gotta pee.
Think about it for a while, then decide to do what’s best. I get up, reach over for Geogal’s purse (keys are on top and she locked the front door of the house). Try to exit without making much noise. Turns out when it’s raining you have plenty of external sounds to drown out your actions.
Go into the house, do my business, check clock in kitchen (3:30). Well, hey. At least it’s not 11:15 at night.
Return to camper. Geogal is up, waiting for me to return. Wanting to make sure everything’s all right (it is). I then proceed to knock over a small cup of water that little Geoana’s friend left near our water dispenser which just happens to be right next to my bunk. Oh, well. It’s a spill but not too much of one.
Then I try to fall asleep again. So does Geogal. She gets there before I do.
Then I knock over the water container. Spills all over the inside of the rig. Only now the camper seems to be much bigger than before. About the size of a small house. I mumble words that I won’t repeat here.
And then I woke up.
Much like a certain season of “Dallas,” it was all a dream. At least the massive amount of spilled water was. Just to be sure I glance over at the water dispenser. Safe and sound. Also has the lid screwed tightly on top. Geogal’s snoozing away. So are the little ones. I close my eyes and think of pleasant things.
Wake up. It’s lighter now. Yet I don’t know what time it is because my clock radio with the large numerals (I’m nearsighted) is nestled away on my nightstand in the master bedroom. I don’t have my cell phone in the camper. And Geogal’s iPod Touch? I wouldn’t even know where to begin looking for it. No matter.
I do some more dozing. More dreams, but none involve liquids. Open my eyes again. Daylight. No rain. Quiet. Peaceful.
Nice! So this is one of the reasons people camp.
I take a few minutes to just enjoy the atmosphere. Then I sit up, get my coffeemaker ready (brought it in from the kitchen before hitting the hay). A few more minutes, I’m enjoying fresh-brewed java in the cool of the morning.
I savored the time before the realities of Sunday morning forced me out of the camper and into the house for shaving, showering, dressing, and making sure everyone else is up in time to get to Sunday school and church service.
Yep, I think we’re ready to take the camper somewhere.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
Spent a good chunk of yesterday outside although most of it was due to little Geoana's sports-related activities. A soccer doubleheader followed by a softball competition. By the end of the day all three of us were sunburned. How quickly we forget that even though the air temperature is only in the low 60's we are still victim to Old Sol's UV rays.
Anyway, didn't start my "fun" stuff until later in the afternoon. I hitched up the camper and drove her off the grass (had to mow). Undid the bolts holding the propane tank then used a very precise and scientific method to check for the amount of fuel. Just a fancy and sarcastic way to say I picked up the tank. Hmmmm. Not as heavy as a full one but too much weight to be empty. I'll just take it to my local Hank Hill and have him top it off.
Bolted the tank back into place then drove the rig out to one of the city parks. I used a deserted and very large parking area to practice backing. Let's just say I hope to improve with experience (and a whole lot more practice).
Still waiting for that maiden voyage. Our Saturday schedules for May are more full than we first realized. Yet before the month is out we intend to take the rig on a quick Saturday-overnight trip, probably to a nearby destination in Nebraska.
What's on tap for today? More outside activity (yeah!), today's being in the garden. By sundown I hope to have more weeding done and have some onions and Yukon Gold seed potatoes planted. Time to take advantage of these warmer temps. Plus the Vitamin D I'll get from the sun-time couldn't hurt, either.
Saturday, May 01, 2010
I saw Dorothy Provine's obit on the wires yesterday. While she's not a household name in this day and age, she evidently was well-known back in the 50's and 60's. To her credit she retired from acting and had enough sense to stay out of the spotlight. For a one-time Tinseltown figure to be married to the same man for 43 years says something.
If you don't recall her character (warning--spoiler ahead), she's the one who first noticed the "Big W." (Cue the choral voices.)
The flick was made almost 50 years ago and I can only recall three lead actors who are still with us: Jonathan Winters, Mickey Rooney, and Sid Caesar. And of the notables who made cameo appearances Jerry Lewis is the only one (from my quick recollection) who hasn't gone to that great film set in the sky.
If you haven't seen "IAMMMMW" I strongly recommend it. Ethel Merman's over the top portrayal of the mother-in-law from hell, the control tower scene, the "fistfight" between Milton Berle and Terry-Thomas (neither one would do well in a bar brawl), Phil Silvers doing what he did best, and any scene involving Sylvester make this long movie worth your time.
I'm only scratching the surface with all the aforementioned vignettes. Hmmm, I might just pop it in the DVD player sometime real soon.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Just got back from Denver. Reason for the journey? Just some R & R, along with visiting some retailers. First stop was the Apple Store, just had to check out the iPad.
Turns out we weren't wowed. It's an OK device but considering Geogal already has an iPod Touch this newer gadget didn't seem to offer us much. Sure, you can read books as well as watch movies, plus surf the ever-increasing web but we agreed the iPad lacks a camera not to mention a USB port.
That's OK. We need to spend our hard-earned cash on other things right now.
The high point of the trip? For me it was a visit to the Tattered Cover bookstore. Geogal and I planned ahead and she dropped me off there Saturday morning. And left me there for over three hours.
Seems like they flew by.
(I like bookstores overall, but I really enjoy the non-chain ones where I'm likely to find a significant variety of tomes. The Tattered Cover didn't disappoint.)
Besides I had to escape the media for a while, particularly given the Tim Tebow lovefest provided by the local broadcast outlets.
Speaking of local media, I definitely fired up the EyeTV and enjoyed plenty of Denver's TV offerings. There's nothing like comparing your over-the-air reception 720p hi-def picture quality to that of the same-channel-but-piped-in-by-satellite image one sees over the hotel's flat-screen.
Over-the-air wins, hands down.
I also collected several legal ID snapshots, which I will post at one of my other pages. I started the project by featuring some other stations from a city about 70 miles south of Denber, it's been up for a few weeks. Go here, and enjoy what I've got so far. I still have several more stations I need to add.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Set up the camper. Popped it up, unzipped some windows, aired it out. Surprise of surprises it didn't have a musty smell I expected after a long winter in storage. Also I was gratified to see I didn't need to give it a good cleaning (the prior owners kept their word and cleaned it out good).
Just get out the Shop-Vac, suck away some accumulated dirt and dust from the outer edges and crevices, and the thing was ready to show off to friends.
Also had Geogal take some pictures. (I still can't find my HP camera, nor can I find Geogal's older Canon. So here are some shots she took with her fancy shmancy Canon I got her for Christmas.)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
We bought a small pop-up trailer. The Geofamily will now ofically be campers.
Found a used Fleetwood in the local classifieds, I picked it up this evening. On the drive from Selden (the town nearest the farming family from whom we bought the rig) I found myself with a sudden sense of deja-vu.
No wonder. I drove this very same route two years ago, only I was pulling a U-Haul trailer instead of a much-lighter camper.
I'll post some pictures soon. I already know what the weekend holds in store: opening the thing up and doing some heavy cleaning.
Friday, April 02, 2010
Lessee, "The Karate Kid," "Tron," "Footloose," and "Red Dawn," just to name a few.
Once Geogal told me the news I responded with: "What's next, 'Ferris Beuller's Day Off'?" Followed by my off-the-top-of-my-head reciting of: "They bought it. One of the worst performances of my career and they never doubted it for a second."
Never mind that a fair amount of good 80's movies were subsequently tarnished by lame sequels. (Seen "Caddyshack 2?" No? Neither have I. Ditto for "Arthur 2, On The Rocks.")
And although it's not a sequel and has no connection to "Ferris Beuller..", the movie "Election" was something no doubt pleasurable to teachers everywhere, seeing the actor who portrayed the outsmart-everyone-else Ferris get his comeuppance at the hands of a viciously ambitious student.
Still, I decided to do a Net search for remakes either in progress or in the planning stages.
On the flip side, here's someone's list of 80's movies that are NOT being remade. At least not yet.
And keep coming back here. Geogal and I are in the process of creating a movie list I alluded to some time ago: The ten best science fiction movies that are not "Star Wars" or "Star Trek" related.
Our picks might surprise you.
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Sunday (of course!) the thermometer returned to 60s and 70s range.
Yesterday we hit the low 80's. Way too nice for northwest Kansas in March. This week I'm seeing just how many meals I can cook outside (i.e. grill) before we have another bust of the cold.
That's right. I'm going into my third April here on the prairie (time flies, don't it?) and I figure we're not out of the frigid cold just yet. Spring is here and that means varying temperatures that can sometimes be extreme. I don't care if the weather predictors have us nice and warm for the present, I know Mother Nature is lurking, getting that Arctic air ready for one final blast before taking the cold to the southern hemisphere.
Still it's nice not to have to wear a jacket outdoors and have the windows open for a change. C'mon summer!
Monday, March 22, 2010
(Yes, we do have retailers here in town but none of their microwave products meet our needs.)
Hey, it couldn't be any worse than the summer of 2001 where, following a house fire, we subsisted using a kitchen that did not have a working range until the repair/remodel was complete. Geogal and I learned to make do with a microwave, an electric skillet, a deep fryer, and a toaster oven.
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Got (like a lot of sports fans) a fair amount of college hoops this weekend. And yes, my team lost. Even though the Aggies blew it in the final moments and Michigan State is going on to the Sweet 16, there's no such thing as a moral victory.
Still, there's always next season.
The Big 12 was decimated. Go K-State Wildcats! Go Baylor Bears!
Also can't help noticing that the three old-time rivals, New Mexico State, UTEP, and the University of New Mexico didn't make it out of this weekend.
What was I saying about next season?
Made a vegetarian dish for supper this evening: Black Bean Chili. Even finicky little Geoana liked it ("This is awesome," she said). So, Sweet Cousin Julie, rest assured there is at least one tasty vegan (that's right, no animal products anywhere in this concoction) dish out there that's loaded with flavor and fills you up to boot. Impress your Galveston friends!
This one will probably be a staple on the upcoming camping sojourn to Yellowstone (one of our Arizona friends is a strict veggie eater).
Finished up another chore of bathroom remodeling work, nailing in the baseboard molding. Did that yesterday, now today my glutes (oh, let's just be blunt--my butt muscles) really hurt. All that bending down and getting up. Now to just get some help installing the light fixture and having D.K. assist me in putting the door over the shutoff valves and this project will be DONE. And thanks, Mom and Dad, for the compliments about me taking on such a job. Who knows, maybe I'll be doing drywall repair in your house someday.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
(Sneak preview: Summer vacation, 2010. We'll be meeting our Arizona friends at Yellowstone. Camping, again. Geogal has already instructed me to take one of the guns and assured me we will stop for ammunition. Bear protection.)
Back to the past. Even though I was traveling for a family funeral there's nothing that said I couldn't indulge my pastime of plugging in the DTV stick and seeing what channels I can get on the MacBook. And ever since I bought the EyeTV hybrid I've been wondering what I could receive while sitting at Mom and Dad's kitchen table in Seguin. I used to take my little analog receiver (yes, that one) and marvel that I could watch nearly all of the San Antonio stations and most of the Austin ones as well.
But digital? Not so much. I couldn't grab the VHF residents (KLRN and KSAT from the Alamo City and KTBC/Austin) with my dinky rabbit ears. WOAI , KENS, KABB, and a couple of Spanish-language outlets were there for my enjoyment. While the scan detected KEYE, KXAN, KLRU, and KVUE from the capital city the antenna couldn't provide a strong enough to-be-watchable signal.
Before flying out of Austin I wanted to set up my gear and do another scan. I did so, only this was inside the airport terminal where the RF and solid construction served to wreak havoc with my DTV enjoyment. Just a couple were there for the taking. I got screengrabs but didn't have the luxury of time to catch the legal ID's.
It was time for the local Saturday morning news shows. Here's an image from KVUE:
And one from KXAN:
Side note: Over the past many months I've accumulated some legal ID screencaps from my journeys. I'll soon post them at my other blog-site.
Monday, March 15, 2010
Me: "What's the URL for that site in Colorado that rents camper trailers?"
Geogal: "I think it's campingadventures, or adventurescamping, or something like that. It's in the history."
Me: "Which browser, and which machine?"
This is what is bound to happen when you have two full-fledged Macs and an iPod Touch. Plus I got the latest issue of Mac-Life and now I really want an iPad.
(It'll be a hoot to revisit this entry in 2020 and see just how cheesy and retro the aforementioned devices became.)
Sunday, March 14, 2010
All of us, save those who are either military brats or true gypsies, have one spot on the map to which we will always feel a connection. It might be one’s hometown, a place you were born, raised, graduated from high school, and where your family of origin still resides. For others it is a city where you started your career, fell in love (for real this time) and started a family of your own. A third category would be a place that forever will link you to your forebears.
I fall into that last criteria.
The place is Seguin, Texas. It has a population of some 25,000 residents but still pales in size compared to its nearby neighbors, New Braunfels (40k) and San Marcos (over 50,000, although I don’t know if that takes into account the student population of Texas State University).
Even though it boasts the world’s largest pecan and has a couple of state historic sites (Los Nogales and Sebastopol) many Texans are unaware of this place. In fact I had a recent phone conversation with a professional colleague in which I mentioned my recent jaunt to Seguin. This person lives and works in Austin, barely an hour’s drive to the north. She didn’t know whereof I spoke and one of her coworkers had to clue her in.
The regular readers of this blog who are not members of my family might deduce this is where my recently deceased grandmother lived. You’re right. If I recall correctly she lived there for 68 years. My mother, while not native to Seguin, lived there for most of her childhood, leaving after high school graduation to attend the University of Texas. She and my father retired to Seguin many years back. My aunt and uncle were born there. I’ve visited this town more times than I can recall. Since I’ve lived several places and several states during my life I can’t say I have a true hometown. I do, however, have Seguin.
And there lies the connection.
Flashback to Tuesday, March 2. I’ve landed at Austin Bergstrom and am zooming (as much as the speed limit and rush-hour traffic will allow) toward Seguin. To show you how task-oriented I was at the time, I drove by two renowned barbecue joints in the town of Lockhart, which unabashedly proclaims itself to to be the “Barbecue Capital of Texas,” per the state legislature. I’m hungry, it is the dinner hour, and I’ve been traveling since 7:30 in the morning. I don’t stop and eat at either Black’s Barbecue or Kreuz Market. Nope, I tell myself. Gotta get to Seguin.
I’m traveling alone and I admit I enjoy the solitude and low stress level of making a journey by my lonesome. I don’t have to hear the wife and child getting fed up with each other (or me feeling the same way about them). No talking. I get to be alone with my thoughts.
I reach Luling and merge onto Interstate 10, westbound. The sun’s going down. Fatigue is starting to get me. “Just a short distance more,” I keep telling myself. Soon I see a sign: “F.M. 1104, Kingsbury, next exit.” My mother’s words from the mid-1970’s came into my head.
“See that sign? It’s Kingsbury. That means the next town is Seguin.”
Ever since moving “back” to Texas from the east coast in 1974, the drive to Seguin was something of a family tradition. Several times a year mom, dad, my sisters, and I would visit Seguin and grandma. Always took Interstate 10. Usually started the trip in late afternoon (if it was a Friday). Depending on the time of year we would sometimes arrive in darkness. And always that Kingsbury exit sign was a harbinger that our destination was but a few more miles down the road.
Back to the present. I pass a new Texas rest area, large and welcoming. There’s a nice traveler center and free Wi-Fi. None of us could even imagine a thing like that back in the days of President Ford, a 55-miles-per-hour speed limit, and cars running on leaded gasoline. Then I pass a construction zone. This must be the interchange for the new Texas Highway 130, a toll road. (Yet another thing you couldn’t fathom back in the old days).
Finally I see the lights of my destination. End of the road for now. Check into the hotel, make sure I look somewhat presentable, and go out to meet the rest of the family.
I remember 1982. Fourth of July holiday time. Our family was in the midst of a move from Texas to Albuquerque. First stop was Seguin. Spend a few days at Grandma’s before dad and I hit the road to New Mexico. At that time Seguin’s Independence Day celebration was referred to as the “Freedom Fiesta.” Huge midway, kiddie rides, face painting, a haunted house (which always served to scare the beheejees out of my younger sister), live bands, and food. Lots of food.
At this particular Fiesta I saw someone holding what looked like a taco. Only it wasn’t a taco. Not the traditional version, anyway. I saw strips of meat in a flour tortilla (in Texas at this time the corn tortilla ruled the Mexican food roost). It was a small flour tortilla, almost the size of its corn counterpart. I’m not sure why it looked appealing to me, I only remember that it just did. “I’ve got to try one of these.” I headed over to the food vendors and soon found my prey. The Seguin Jaycees were selling something called “fajitas.” I queued up, paid my money, and soon held in my hand that mysterious concoction that looked so appealing just a few minutes before.
First bite. My taste buds sent the brain’s pleasure center into overdrive. After downing that first fajita I bought another. Soon the rest of my family was intrigued by this unknown combination of grilled flank steak, guacamole, onions, and jalapenos served in a small four tortilla that folded in half, similar to a taco.
Those Jaycees must have done well with the fajita booth that July. I think my clan alone paid for several of their civic projects over the next fiscal year.
Illegal drug users, especially those who used cocaine or heroin, always describe their very first use. Because of drug use causing changes to the brain chemistry they never experience that wonderful, euphoric “first high” ever again.
I think I myself will be chasing that “first fajita high” for the rest of my days. I’ve eaten them at dozens of restaurants in numerous locales over many years but never again have I had one as good as those first ones in Seguin.
I haven’t lived in Texas since the aforementioned move out of state in 1982. But it seems no matter where I live I always feel anchored to Seguin. While my own child likely won’t have the same connection to this burg I am positive the “family ties” will continue in my extended kinsfolk. Whether it’s from those who graduated from Texas Lutheran University or simply those who make frequent visits to my mom and dad’s house, my maternal grandparents’ descendants are unquestionably tied to this nondescript South-Central Texas town. It’s not a perfect place and no doubt it has its seedy areas (some of which I saw on this most recent visit). Still, revisiting the words I used to begin this essay, just about all of us feel some tie to a place on the map. Seguin is my place. I knew this all along but it wasn’t until I was well into adulthood that I could cognitively determine this bond. Grandma’s death and funeral, which necessitated my journey, seemed to finally put it all together to the point where I can translate my thoughts and memories into the written word. For those of you reading this who are not members of my family, be sure to enjoy and celebrate wherever it is you feel that unchanging and indescribable bond . And for those of you who are a part of my mother’s family, I’ll bet your place is Seguin, too.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Even though the occasion was tinged with sadness I still took delight in the travel notwithstanding my elevated stress due to never-ending travel arrangements. Once I'm in the aircraft with the seatbelt buckled everything seems right with the world.
The middle and ending parts of last week also featured some of the best weather to be found in South Texas. Not too hot, not too cold. Not humid. Beautiful blue sky and abundant sunshine.
Although the funeral was my purpose for being there there was no law saying I couldn't enjoy being away from the home front once my duty as a pallbearer and supportive family member drew to a close. Geodad and I even set aside a few hours and visited Cabela's in Buda (huge, HUGE place!--much larger than the Kearney location I frequent).
Then there's the food. No visit to The Lone Star State would be complete without treating my palate to chicken-fried steak, Whataburger, Tex-Mex, and BBQ. Did all four although the Tex-Mex was only symbolic, a couple of tamales made by a friend of the family as matter of condolence.
Still, they were good.
And no, I didn't get on the scale upon returning home.
Geogal and I also got to try the Apple version of Skype, iChat. Videoconferencing is mighty easy once you get an iMac and a MacBook to talk to each other.
Didn't bring the Sirius tuner with me and I was OK with terrestrial radio this time around. Did I mention San Antonio has the two best country music stations around? Y100 on the FM dial and 680 KKYX on the AM band. Modern country and classic country respectively. I challenge you to find a better duo. Shortly after landing and procuring my rental vehicle I heard Y100 list the nightlife and they included who was playing at Gruene Hall (touted by their web site as "Texas' oldest dance hall"). To save you out-of-staters a trip to Google, Gruene (pronounced "green") is a very historic very small burg completely surrounded now by New Braunfels. The definitive one-of-a-kind place.
I also picked up a copy of Texas Monthly, a publication I've read on and off for the past 30 years (yes, I was even perusing it as a high schooler). Their cover story this month is: "The Bucket List, 63 things all Texans should do before they die."
Turns out I've done several of them already. #5, See the world in San Antonio (the viewing deck at the Tower of the Americas); #6, Visit the State Fair of Texas; #18, Drive the River Road, near Lajitas; #19, Drink a free beer at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner (I actually drank four); #37, Ride the ferry between Galveston and the Bolivar Penninsula; #46, Watch two classic Texas films (The Last Picture Show and Tender Mercies), #52, Roll down Miller Hill in Houston (Hermann Park, to be exact. My sister and I called it "Dead Man's Hill.")
Back to food and drink. One remembrance of Grandma is visiting her house in Seguin as a small child. It was summertime (it always seemed to be summertime there). She had the ice chest full of drinkables: Coca Cola, Sprite, Dr. Pepper, and Big Red. 12-ounce glass bottles. Best soda I ever drank.
A couple of days after the funeral I went (along with the Geoparents) to City Market in nearby Luling for a BBQ lunch. I got a half pound of brisket, a half-pound of ribs, and a slice of white bread (Mrs. Bairds). Washed it all down with a bottle of cold Big Red.
A glass bottle.
Saturday, February 27, 2010
It snowed here last Saturday night/into Sunday morning. Only an inch and a half, not enough to be troublesome or impair normal life. Just enough, though, for little Geoana and one of her friends to go sledding at the park.
While I was standing around and being the responsible adult I looked at the bare trees, the gray sky, the white ground and thought to myself: "Just a few more weeks and things will start greening up and warming up."
Come, spring. Come.
Still haven't found my camera. If it really has disappeared from the face of the earth no real big deal. Its vintage is nearly ten years told which is downright ancient for a digital device. I don't have any irreplaceable pictures on its memory card right now and Geogal has a newer Canon she would gladly let me use. Only problem is I would have to peruse the manual as its menu system is not exactly user-friendly.
Where is that dadgum camera?
And while I'm on the subject, where's my thumb drive?
Regular readers of this blog already know I don't watch or follow "American Idol." I used to enjoy it until, yes, Sanjaya. For me that was the "jump the shark" moment. Geogal still watches it when she can and I recently noticed that Ellen DeGeneres is now a judge.
One question: Why?
Simon, Randy, Paula (gone but not forgotten), and Kara all have music industry credentials. Ellen? She's a comedian.
Patti LaBelle seems to agree.
Speaking of television it probably won't be long before Geogal and I set up a home network allowing streaming video to be watched on the regular TV. We're watching the regular stuff less and less and Hulu seems to be the most popular channel in the house.
Geogal watches "General Hospital." I watch "Emergency!" and "Adam 12."
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
It started Friday with several coworkers, colleagues, and cohorts receiving floral-involved items from significant others. Culminates today (natch) and the Geohouse is no different. I gave Geogal a nice spa/aquamassage certificate but I was quite surprised with my gifts. Plural.
One was an aluminum laptop stand for the MacBook. No surprise here. I saw the confirmation e-mail in the account before Geogal had a chance to move it. Finally I have sweet revenge for her advance knowledge of Christmas gifts many years ago when she looked in the checkbook and saw the carbons from my purchases. (This was so many years ago, we didn't even have a debit card at the time.)
But the other was a total shock: new iPod nano. I have a first-generation one, one gig. The new one is 8 gigs. Finally I can have the entire ninth symphony of Ludwig van Beethoven on my personal player and still have room for the rest of my library as well. This Nano also shoots video (similar to a Flip, I suppose), has an FM tuner (I won't be using it) and plays video, something that didn't appear until later models. I'm having fun with the new toy.
Did some out-of-town shopping yesterday. Visited Cabela's, finally figured out what to give little Geoana for a future birthday or Christmas gift: A Remington pump-action 20 gauge. Perfect for the gals. I'm not sure how soon she'll receive it, though. I can't fathom my young child having a better firearm then I do.
Windy today, a cold bitter wind. At least Mother Nature redeemed this day by giving us bright sunshine with nary a cloud in the sky. Mostly staying indoors today, a pot of green chile is simmering on the stove. Overall, not a bad day.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
Hunting season is over. I went out a few times but never got a pheasant. No matter, I enjoyed every minute of it and only regret I didn't get out more. Still, as Chicago Cubs fans say, just wait till next season! (And there is spring turkey season still ahead, shotgun can be used from April 14 through May 31. Maybe I'll take little Geoana and let her use the turkey call she got for Christmas.)
Six more weeks of winter? I wish. Cold times seem to last a bit longer up here on the prairie. Shoot, come April there will still be days that give us the shivers.
Went to Colorado a couple of weeks ago (work-related). Geogal and little Geoana did the fun touristy stuff while I sat inside a hotel ballroom listening to presenters drone on. Actually my professional-related activities were not too terribly boring but given my penchant for the outdoors it just seemed a sin to be in a windowless room.
Long day at work today. Two colleagues gone which means more work for those of us on the team. While the day goes much quicker if one is busy the fatigue factor come sundown is much more intense. So much so that when I got home I ditched the idea of cooking and persuaded the family to go to "be bad" and go to a local eatery.
It didn't take much persuasion.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Good game, by the way. Going into overtime is exactly how you want a conference championship matchup to be. Especially when you don't really care who wins.
Geogal told me one of her close Arizona friends is suggesting we go there over spring break, citing Geogal's recent head cold as reason for us to visit the desert.
My response: "If Favre calls a press conference to announce he's retiring (again), I'm catching a plane to Phoenix so I can eat a chicken-fried steak at the TexAz Grill."
Last time I was there they had the TVs tuned to his (first annual) retirement press conference.
Just seems right.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
Before you say “So what?”, this shower was significant in that it marked the first use of the new shower stall in the basement bathroom.
Yes indeed, the bathroom redo is 97% complete. As of today the only tasks that remain are to install a new towel rod, nail in the baseboard molding, and create a small door that will cover the shut-off valves that control the shower faucet.
Friday and yesterday D.K. (my project advisor, fellow worker, and guy who makes sure I don’t get in over my head) completed the shower install, marking the end of the job with caulking the outside edges (mainly for looks).
And man, does it look good!
D.K. made a great point on Friday. He said “this shower just fought us every step of the way.” Very true.
From the start we knew this would be more than a “demo the old shower and put in a new one” project. First we had to put in shut off valves which would enable us to have the water to the shower faucet cut off for the duration (in case you didn’t know this, most houses don’t have these). After that, re-route the plumbing to the new faucet location (behind drywall). Once we finished that task, then it seemed a simple matter of building the new shower stall.
But wait. We had to smash up some concrete in order to put in a new drain P-trap. (Apparently the drain for the old shower was non-standard and would not match up to a new shower stall without extreme jerry-rigging.) Trust me it was just easier for us to tear up some of the concrete and replace the P-trap. In the midst of this process a professional plumber strongly recommended we go with a brass drain rather than the plastic one included in the shower stall kit. As it turned out, once we replaced the P-trap it was very easy to fit up a brass drain. (Thanks for the free advice, Larry.)
But now we’re getting closer to having this finished! Or so we thought.
It comes time to install the faucet handle, just a typical Moen shower faucet kit. Uh-oh. Since the shower stall is designed to fit away from the drywall (rather than flush on a tile wall), a regular faucet kit is too short for the handle to go on. About 9/16th of an inch too short.
Much swearing and hand-wringing ensued.
But on to a possible solution. D.K. knows someone who does metal work. Maybe they can create the longer pieces we need. He starts looking into this, gets an answer in the affirmative, but in the meantime speaks to a Moen customer service representative.
Well, well. Turns out we did everything correctly. Moen sells a faucet extension kit for just these types of projects. D.K. orders one online, gets the run-around from the seller, but eventually the extension kit finds its way here.
Fits perfectly. Things are going swimmingly until D.K. accidentally drops one of the 3 inch stainless steel screws (for securing the faucet handle trim onto the faucet valve) down the wrong side of the shower wall. After trying a yardstick with packing tape wadded onto one end, busting my brain to think of other ways to retrieve the screw, then finally giving up, I try my luck with hardware stores.
Do you know how hard it is to find these types of screws? Mighty difficult. (It doesn’t help that these are screws for plumbing purposes, rather than regular construction.) I finally go to the Fastenal web site, pick out what I need, create an account, and place the order.
A few days ago the screws (I wanted to make sure I had backups in case we had another “drop”) arrived and on went the trim. Rest of the faucet handle goes on without a hitch, get the sliding door onto the shower, caulk everything up good, and Geogal and I now have a fully functional 3/4 bath in the basement.
Not only is it aesthetically much more pleasant, this bathroom is much improved over the previous version:
- Toilet, sink, and shower all are designed for lower water usage
- Replaced the regular electrical receptacle with a GFI
- Re-routed wiring allowing for a safer layout
- New cork flooring is not only “green,” but it looks great to boot
- Old drywall replaced with moisture-resistant “greenboard”
- New shut-off valves for toilet and sink
As soon as I find my camera (no joke) I’ll post a couple of pictures to illustrate what I could never describe in prose.
Thursday, January 07, 2010
But not to worry, by Sunday the high is supposed to be around 40. Downright balmy, I might get out the Hawaiian shirts.
Overall I don't miss the Arizona desert but the last few nights have had me nestled all snug in my bed, while visions of saguaros danced in my head. Truth be told just a quick recollection of doing any kind of manual labor outside in the 110 degree heat in June breaks me of my "it's too cold" whinyness.
What else is going on? Obviously we're confined to the great indoors for the present. In this day and age of Internet and Netflix the cabin fever can be kept at bay. Plus since the holiday season is a memory a routine of work and chores beats the winter blues.
Netflix movies? I've written before that I've been enjoying older films and recently had a doozy of a double feature. "Zero Hour!" followed by "Airplane!"
You've never heard of "Zero Hour?" Neither had I until I did a little research. Turns out this 1957 celluloid was the inspiration for "Airplane!" Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker bought the rights and "Airplane" took a whole lot of dialogue from the earlier movie. Lines that were written and performed with Serious Intent but just come across with hilarity. Lines such as:
"You're a member of this crew. Can you face some unpleasant facts?"
"I might bend your precious airplane, but I'll get it down in one piece."
"Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit smoking."
And the best one of all:
"The survival of everyone on board depends on just one thing. Finding someone who can not only fly this plane, but who didn't have fish for dinner!"
Most of my ilk have seen "Airplane!" and probably own it, either on VHS or on DVD. Do yourself a favor, rent "Zero Hour!" Just for funzies, Geogal and I tried to see how long we could watch it before bursting into laughter.
Came at the 4 minute, 25 seconds mark. Let's just say it's a scene involving a military psychiatric hospital.
Other movies we've enjoyed? The old Disney Kurt Russell movies, seemed like they produced about 5 each year. "The Music Man," cited by many as the best con man movie of all time. "The Apartment," showing the worst side of corporate America, at least until "Wall Street."
Plenty more good ones to see, I'm sure. Oh, I almost forgot to mention "Mamma Mia!" It's not that great of a flick but amusing to watch anyway. Geogal was overheard saying: "Hey get a load of this--James Bond can't sing!"