Monday, February 27, 2017

Nothing Special

Today is my birthday.  Nothing spectacular will occur to mark the occasion.  That is how most of my birthdays are these days, just another in a long line of them.  I just hope there are a few more in my future and they will be relatively pain free.  We had plans to go visit my parents, they wanted to take me out to eat for lunch.  However a friend was in need and we deferred our lunch to help her out. 
Kim will be doing the actual helping this time as she needed a female presence.  I didn't hesitate at all to change our plans.  I don't mind at all.  I wish there was more I could do there.

A lot of close friends have been having a rough go of it of late.  Health problems are the abundance of those along with a few personal problems.  It just seems to come in waves and has been for awhile.
I try to encourage those as best I can and offer help where I can.  I even offer to baby sit young kids for those that have them and my need a break to go do things like errands or just get away.  I may be crazy, but I really enjoy being around young kids for a while.  I am talking those under 10 down to toddlers.  I find their joy and innocence refreshing and they make me feel good being around them. 
haven't really had to baby sit for a long time.  But I think I can manage, especially if Kim is here LOL.

Happy Trails

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Weapons of War

I read an article on another website in regard to the 4th Court of Appeals and it upholding the ban on certain guns and magazines.  This is exactly the reason why we need to be able to remove activist judges that legislate from the bench or use their political of personal agenda as law instead of what the constitution says.  The 2nd Amendment is not hard to understand.  There is no way to misunderstand it unless it goes against your opinion or belief.  But yet we have these yahoo's that can get away with this crap.  

I could go on and on but this is much to simple it doesn't need much discussion IMO.  Just follow the constitution and you are good.  It's not like interpreting a foreign language where words can take on several meanings yet we don't know which one they meant.

Happy Trails

Friday, February 24, 2017

Spring Has Sprung

Yes it has.  We have had some really warm and spectacular weather the last few weeks.  This has spurred new plant growth throughout the area.  The first evidence were the Mountain Laurels blooming with their purple blooms that smell like grape bubble gum.  Some of the vegetation that was frozen in our flower beds have started springing to life also.   However this changing of the seasons will bring in some violent weather along with it.  That was evident with the tornadoes in our area this past Sunday evening.

The weather has been so nice it is hard to stay home, we have been itching to get out.  I checked how the weather and beach driving conditions were down at the coast (Padre Island National Seashore.) 
They were predicting a high of around 80 with low winds and clam surf and packed sand for driving on the beach.  Near perfect!  Off we went, leaving around 9:45 AM and hitting the beach around 1:00 PM.  Almost 200 miles one way to our sitting spot on the beach.  You are allowed to drive on the beach here, something I have heard is pretty rare throughout the rest of the US.  It makes it really nice to be able to carry all your junk right to where you want to be.  We try to get as far between others as possible.  It didn't get as warm as they said more like 70 with a light breeze blowing off the water.  It got a bit chilly if you weren't sitting in direct sunlight.  There was plenty of that and not a cloud in the sky.   I also used this opportunity to pick up a Senior Pass for National Parks for 10$.  They are going up to 80$, it's still a good deal.  It is a lifetime pass and gives you a big discount on NP entrance etc.

We always go during the weekdays when we do go.  We avoid the crowds that way.  The beach was busier than we expected but not crowded at all.  The closest person to us was probably 150 yards away.  You do get passed by others just driving up and down the beach and can be very close to where you are sitting.  Most are single males.  It's kinda weird how they will stare at you at times. 
you will see several turnaround and pass you by a couple times.  I stay alert and armed.  They move on once they see we don't want drugs or are going to invite them in for whatever they expect.  I have heard stories.  Lots of wierdos out there.

video

Cilck on the panorama


Happy Trails

Thursday, February 23, 2017

February 23, 1836

Today marks the day Generalisimo Juan Antonio Lopez de Santa Ana arrived in San Antonio, Texas in response to the rebellion that was forming.  He immediately sent a demand to the Commander of the garrison at the Alamo, Col. William Barrett Travis who had yet to reach the age of 30.  Travis answered this demand with a cannon shot.  The courage this took when he could clearly see that he was greatly outnumbered by the Mexican troops is impressive to say the least.  He was in command of less than 200, not enough to fully man the walls of the Alamo compound.  There are no figures that can verify the exact number of troops the Mexicans brought to the siege.  The numbers vary from around 1500 to over 5000 by the end of the siege with more arriving daily as Santa Ana's army did not arrive all at once.  I have no doubt that either number was overwhelming since the Texian's were untrained in this sort of warfare.  I personally believe that the number is on the higher side due to the nature and unknown length of this mission Santa Ana undertook.  the courage the Texian's had made up for their lack of training is spades.

Thus began what is known as the 'Thirteen Days of Glory.'

Below is a sketch and map of the Alamo made a few months after the siege.  No it doesn't have to iconic shape.  It never did until the US Army made a depot out of it in the late 1840's after Texas became a state.




Happy Trails

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Too Much Dog

Monday morning as we were heading out to meet the Granddaughter at the zoo I noticed an older lady walking her dogs.  Well, she wasn't actually walking them but was trying to restrain them.  They had stretched their leashes to the max and she was doing all she could to hold them back.  As we got closer I could see that the two dogs were Pit Bulls and they were trying to get at a small kitten that was outside one of the homes on the street.  Just as we were passing her she lost control and dropped both leashes.  The dogs were heading toward the house, I couldn't see the cat anymore.  The lady takes off after the dogs while they were headed toward the open garage doors of the house.  I didn't see the conclusion of this, I hope the cat got to safe place and the owners of the house didn't rush outside to confront a couple very excited Pit Bulls.

I know there is a lot of bad press about Pit Bulls.  I know those that own them swear they are very gentle dogs and go out of their way to defend them.  I don't know much about them and I hear two different stories, one positive and one negative.  They seem to equal out.  However, most of the fatal dog attacks or serious attacks that I hear about are Pit Bulls.  I also don't know if that is the press focusing on this breed more than others making it seem like their are more than other dogs.  This may be due to them being used as fighting dogs for generations of time.  They were put in 'pits' to fight. This is where their name comes from I believe.  There is no argument about the fact that Pit Bulls can be very dangerous due to the strength of their jaws and their singleness of mind when focused on something.  The danger part is if they get excited to the point of taking action the results can be horrific due to those factors.  But this can be true of any dog breed.  The difference is the strength and jaw pressure the Pits have.  They have been known not to release a bite without them being killed. This is one reason they are used as fighting dogs, illegally of course.  I am trying to not make a judgement on this, just relating what I see/hear.

Back to the incident in question.  I don't know why this lady had chosen this breed as a pet.  Maybe for protection, the way they look and their reputation can be intimidating.  It could deter those with ill intentions.  But my Aussie can do that too but not just by his looks, it's his response to strangers that is more noticeable.  However, it was pretty apparent that these two dogs were way too much for her to handle safely.  One by itself would have been hard for her to control after seeing how little strength she had compared to the dogs.  She didn't have enough, much less for two that were feeding off each others frenzied actions.  

No, I didn't stop to help even though I thought about it, this happened very fast.  I know better than to confront any large dog that is in a frenzied state, especially one that I am a stranger to.  Their reputation was a bit of a deterrent too and I consider myself a dog person.  I hope the cat was OK and nothing else happened, but mainly that this lady will never again take both dogs out on a walk in any neighborhood.  Lesson learned?  Maybe, maybe not since people can be so hard headed.

Happy Trails

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Heartbroken

We have received a response to our letter to our long time friend.  The response was 'no response' and an 'unfriending' on the book of faces.  About what I expected.  Kim texted her to let her know we were aware of her recent action.  Again, no response.  My wife's heart is hurting, that is my main concern, trying to console her and not be angry that she has been hurt.  All we can do now is pray.  

On a lighter note, the wife's birthday party was a success.  We had very few no shows but that was due to the flu that is rampaging through this area.  My bride seemed very pleased which was my main goal.  I can't thank enough those that did the lion's share of the work for this to happen.  I am indebted.

Sunday evening very late thunderstorms rolled into our area.  We lost all power for a while.  There were three twisters that hit the areas to the south of us.  No one was injured but there was some significant damage hence the long wait for power to be restored.  The energy company here does a pretty good job on outages, we rarely have to wait more than a few minutes to be restored.  I'm surprised they got us up and running as soon as they did with all the damage from the twisters.  They were only EF1 in strength, so it could have been much worse.

Around 10:30 PM we lost power, then it was back on.   This went on for about 15 minutes until we lost it for good.  It was still out at 9:00 AM and they weren't sure when it would be back on.  It was just a minor inconvenience for it to be out almost 12 hours since we were asleep for most of it.  I got out the camp stove and heated some water for coffee and then the wife cooked some breakfast.  We had to take it out on the patio to cook it was still too dark to see inside.  It gave me a good insight into just how unprepared we are for a major event.  There are now new things on the list or have moved up the list of priorities that need to get done.  First is some sort of battery powered lighting other than flashlights.  Fuel based lighting will also be addressed.  Candles just weren't enough when it is pitch black.  It was good practice for us.  We need to get busy.

Tuesday is my Granddaughters birthday, she shares the same date with my bride.  She asked us to go to the local zoo with her.  So we drug ourselves into town Monday morning, after the power came on, to spend time with her on her birthday.  She will be 9 and has become a 'pokemon' game player.  I don't know what that is other than its some sort of game you play on your phone and you have to go to actual locations.  Hence her desire to go to the zoo where evidently part of the game is played.  She asked her uncle, my youngest son, to go also and join her playing this game.  So her attention will be divided by us, the zoo and pokemon.  Guess which one will win.

Happy Trails

Saturday, February 18, 2017

More Frustration

I mentioned a while back that I was being changed to a new pharmacy insurer and the frustration of having to change various meds due to coverage changes etc.  I have been dealing with this the last two weeks.  It had appeared that all of the prescriptions had arrived at the mail order site as i could see them listed on their website.  Great, I thought, maybe this will be easier than I expected.  Nope.

I received my first order from them this week.  It was short three of the meds.  I check the website and none of the previous ones are listed as before, even in the prescription history.  Contact via the website proved fruitless as they claimed they had NO RECORD of those prescriptions.  Yeah, they got a nasty reply.  I also had my doctor resend those missing ones or so they say they will, but that hasn't worked well in the past.  We will see.

Today is the Birthday Party for my bride.  I will head over there early to see what I can do to help out.
However, they keep telling me everything will be done already.  I'm going anyway.  I have to at least help then set up, just for my own satisfaction.  My bride also dropped an idea she had about entertainment for the guests.  What?!?!?  Even though it had crossed my mind I had hoped our kids would step up with that.  Crickets.  Three days before the party and she has what she thinks is a simple plan.  It ain't that simple.  I dumped it on the kids.  If it happens at all, great.  If not, it will be the way I thought it was going anyway, have friends and family over to eat and visit and wish her well.  I told you I'm not a party guy.  I'm doing pretty good just trying to put one on at all after 40+ years.  Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Why does there have to be entertainment?  grumble grumble.

Happy Trails

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Taxes

We will be working on getting our tax information together today and for the next few days.  Most of it will for the wife to get her final things done for her 'business.'  That takes the most time.  She suggested that maybe we could do our own taxes this year using the forms from previous years as a guide.  She is thinking of saving the fee we pay to our tax man by doing it ourselves.  I am not to fond of that idea at all.  I did our taxes every year until after the first try with her business as part of the equation.  I even used that Turbotax and still wasn't confident in the results.  I am pretty sure we paid more than we would have had we used our current tax preparer.  She thinks it might be easier since she didn't make near as much as she has in the past.  After going through all the stress of trying to do taxes for a self employed business once, that broke me of trying that again.  Plus, with every year there are enough changes to mess things up enough that we wouldn't be able to use previous returns as a guide, at least I don't feel confident enough.  Until she gets out of being self employed, we will use a 'tax man' to get these things taken care of.





Happy Trails



Monday, February 13, 2017

Underway

Planning for Kim's Birthday party is well underway.  We have invited 40 friends and family.  Not all will show but most will.  The planning has pretty much been taken out of my hands.  Once Kim and the lady I asked for help got together, they changed most of my ideas.  The food has changed and the place has changed and the day has changed.  Less work for me.  I have also learned that the less questions I ask, the better off I am.  It took me much too long to learn that.  The bruises will heal soon enough.

We went over to my oldest Son's Saturday and we celebrated his and my Grandson's birthday.  It amazes me how much my son has changed over the years.  I couldn't be prouder.  We ate BBQ even though I had eaten it almost everyday that week.  I think I have had enough for a while.

I had no doubt that the activist 9th court of appeals would go against the President.  It just flabbergasts me that they or any judge and their supporters care not one iota for what is in the Constitution.  There has got to be some sort of way to reign in activist judges that legislate from the bench.  However, even if there were, would we be able to trust those that would be tasked to do that? 
Not a chance IMO.  This is just totally partisan politics, it  has nothing at all to do with our security, safety and upholding the Constitution.  For instance, Clinton and Obama both halted immigration from various countries for much the same reason.  Things have got to change or we will be headed for a catastrophe as a country.  But if you have been coming here for any length of time, you probably already knew that.  

Happy Trails

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Very Warm

The last couple days have been very warm, reaching the upper 80's, 88 in fact.  So I drug my lazy butt outside to work in the yard.  I have put that off way too long.  Managed to get quite a bit done in regard to the dead vegetation in front of the house.  Now it doesn't look so bad when you see it from the street.  I use an electric leaf blower to help move all the leaves that have piled up.  It uses a long extension cord, it's not the gas powered kind.  While doing this, I noticed a lot of sparks coming from the socket where the cord plugs into the blower.  I shut it off ASAP, too late.  It looked like an arc welder.  Evidently the cord had worked itself loose.  Enough that is was arcing over to the blower plug.  It fried my cord and the blower.  This was before I got completely finished.  I have another one on order.  It has a better connection that should keep that from happening again.  We have a lot of leaves all the time so I use it pretty often.  They are not that expensive considering how much I use it.

My brisket turned out excellent.  We were going to freeze it for the future.  We would invite some friends over to enjoy it with us.  However I just learned that a good friend's Mother-in-law just passed away.  We will most likely take it over to them.  Taking food to those that have lost loved ones is a tradition around here.  I can only assume that it is something that is done throughout the South from what I have read.  Others can correct my assumption if I am wrong.

We mailed the letter of our response to our friend that has us so worried.  It went in the mail Wednesday.  I don't expect a quick response if at all.  No answer would indicate bad news.  Any answer could also be bad news.  Whatever the end result there will be lasting ramifications.  The wife has been holding up better emotionally.  When she has time to build that wall around her heart she deals OK with bad things.  It takes a long time, but it is never invulnerable.

Today is my oldest Son's birthday.  39 years old.  Doesn't seem like it was that long ago I was 39.  His son, my Grandson's birthday is Saturday, he will be 7.  When I was 39, my son was already a teenager.  Will we head over to his house Saturday for that.  

Happy Trails

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Tuesday

Yes, I'm a day behind, but most of my posts here are.  I went into town for my diabetes check up with the doctor.  My numbers weren't as good as I hoped for or expected, but not anything unmanageable.  
Also got them to change some meds that are no longer covered under this new pharmacy prescription.
The doctor actually prefers the alternatives, says they are more stable.  So I a am hoping that this will bring my numbers back in line.  I have at least one months supply of the old stuff I will use up first.

When I got home I started up the BBQ pit/smoker.  I am cooking a couple briskets.  One for a lady that likes the way I do it.  She bought one but had no idea how to cook it so asked me how.  She has nothing but a little Weber grill, that won't even come close to dong what she wants.  She also asked about doing it in the oven.  No NO NO!  So I offered to cook it for her.  I had one in the freezer so they are both on there.  

Not sure about the condition of the pit though.  I have had it for 15-20 years and it was a cheap one. 
It has got holes here and there in the firebox and it won't be long before I can't use it anymore.  In fact I will be surprised if I don't find my fire laying on the ground before I'm done with these it's that bad. 
I certainly need a new one if I plan on doing anymore BBQ.  I have an idea what I want but haven't seen it exactly at any of the places I see them for sale.  No, won't go the custom route, that is just too expensive.  Not in a hurry anyway due to the cost.  Probably around 500$.  That is not a top of the line one either.  Pretty sure I can wait on that.  But this it TEXAS, we take our BBQ serious here. 
Not sure how long I can wait.  No, I don't cook with sauce on it, just a spice rub.  I let the smoke do it's magic.  You won't even need sauce with my brisket it's that moist.  I will provide sauce on the side for those that know no better.  Yankees usually.  They don't even realize what an insult that is to the chef.  

There are just certain things that have to be done a certain way and BBQ is one of them.  Chili is another but that is a different story.  Yes, I'm big on tradition if you haven't figured that out.

Happy Trails

Monday, February 6, 2017

Birthdays

The month of February sees a lot of birthdays in my family.  Both Grand-kids, my son, mine, and most notably my wife's.  Along with that my son's in-laws also have numerous birthdays.

Since we have been married, Kim has never had a 'party' for her birthday.  Prior to that I have no idea if she did.  She has put on a couple for me even though I am not a party sort of guy.  She is, and unfortunately for her she is stuck with me.  Oh we have done things like go out for a special supper with family, but nothing that would be considered a party.

This year is a BIG one for her.  So I decided a surprise party would be a good thing.  Since I am not a party guy I wasn't sure where to start or come up with ideas.  I contacted my sons back in December and let then know about the significance of this coming one and I would need their help.  Plenty of time to plan, right?  I talked about some ideas with one of them and promptly forgot about it.  Until my son texted me about it again this past weekend.  I was chagrined that I had forgotten this to say the least.  Time is short now.  He had been talking with a friend that manages a restaurant and had some ideas on how this could go.  To tell the truth, it wasn't even in the ball park of the ideas I had.  I had considered something more intimate where we as a family had put this together i.e. the food, the place etc.  But since time was so short I considered it, until I looked at pricing for something like that for 40 folks.  I had to think of something else in a hurry.  I was freaking out.  

I wanted her to have a party with some of her friends with our family thrown in.  Around 40 guests was my estimate.  The location and time frame of the restaurant also made it problematic.  It would be over an hour drive for many of the guests in an area unfamiliar, through an extremely crowded highway.  Most would do it for her, but what a PITB.  Freaking out even more.  I had to spill the beans to Kim and get her input/ideas especially since she keeps the books and I know we are on a really tight budget.  While it ruined my surprise, she was more than touched just because I had the idea.  I told you before she has a very tender heart.  Of course we came up with a winner if some issues could be addressed.  And they were and a date and time has been set along with a location.  

However, when I texted the son that had talked to the restaurant, he let me know they may have a conflict with the time frame.  They have a 'family' birthday celebration at his in-laws that day of course.  He also said he didn't think it could be changed.  Then he texts me and says it's at 2 PM so that may work after all.  I will recover from my mini stroke just fine.....SMH.

Happy Trails.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sluggish

We went over to my parents new house yesterday.  This is the first time I have seen it.  It is a nice house.  The thing I was shocked by was all the clutter.  It has been a week since most of the move was made.  There is quite a bit of clutter of things that have been piled up.  Not a big deal since they just moved.  But you would have to know my mother.  She is a neat/clean freak.  NOTHING is ever out of place or not sparkling clean.  The last two moves this clutter was not evident at all.  When we got there at nearly 11:00 am she still was not ready for the day.  That is very unusual also.  She looked worn out.  Dad?  He is 89 and doesn't move around too much.  I could tell of no ill effects of the move.

Mom has also been dealing with a lady that is buying a house from them.  It's my Dad's parents house that they inherited.  They sold this house and carried the note for the lady.  They have bent over backwards to help her since her husband left her holding the bag.  Long story short they need to rid themselves of this problem.  They will try to sell the note at a huge loss but relief from this burden will ease her stress.  I encouraged her to start the process now instead of waiting another month as she had planned.

We had gone over to see if we could help with some of the putting away of things.  But Mom had other ideas.  She was so tired all she wanted to do was visit.  So that we did.  For a few hours and then Dad decided he wanted to go out and eat (they don't eat at home hardly every) so up he got and headed to the door without so much as a 'see ya.'  He was singly focused on getting to the restaurant. 
So we headed home.  

I also had to have some blood drawn for an upcoming doctor appointment.  The regular diabetes check up.  I will also have to have several medications changed to different brands as my new pharmacy insurance does not cover the current ones I use.  That is a major PITB.  

After that blood draw Kim and I went had breakfast tacos at a place near downtown that I hadn't been to in about 40 years.  It had been a favorite of mine but we moved and it was to far.  We went by the area on our way to the parents and made the stop.  Glad we did, it was as good as I remember and the homemade tortillas were outstanding.  Brought back a lot of fond memories when I and a couple of friends would have a guys only taco breakfast there ever so often.

I am feeling physically sluggish today.  Just can't get moving much and when I do it doesn't last long. 
I got up ready to attack the yard work I had put off, or at least part of it.  It has turned off cold and windy and killed my mood altogether since I was sluggish anyway.  Maybe next week.

Happy Trails


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Great Article

The Old NFO had a great article the other day and he has given me permission to link to it.  It was a time I still remember well.  I just missed out having to go over to Viet Nam in the early 70's.  In a heated emotional moment just a few weeks after high school graduation that summer I was planning to go into the Marine Corp.  I let a friend that had gotten into trouble with the law talk me into considering the 'buddy program'  and we would join together.  I had never really considered it previously although I figured I would eventually be in the military, but not then, and not the Marines. The Navy was the most likely.  Why didn't I go after-all?  My Dad of all people talked me out of it.  I never expected him to do that.  Getting me out of the house would have been more his style.  So he got my attention with this uncharacteristic action.  In short he was afraid I would be sent to Viet Nam and didn't want me there.  Being dumb and impressionable he convinced me to not join the Marines.

I have some regrets that I never served my country as I should have.  Although had I, I would never have met the woman I am married to today, the love of my life.  So those regrets take a back seat and I don't dwell on them.  I do what I can to support our armed forces in various ways.  I won't talk about that here as I don't want to make it seem I am patting myself on my back.  Just know it's not just talk.

In 2005 we had our 30th wedding anniversary.  We wanted to do something special to commemorate that.  For some reason I came up with the idea of going to Washington D.C. for July 4th, which is our anniversary.  We could celebrate on the Mall with 2 million other Americans, our anniversary and our Country's.  While there we took in the usual sights, the Smithsonian, the Archives, Arlington (visited a friend that is interred there as a promise to myself) and the many monuments.  The one that stands out most in my mind was the Viet Nam Memorial.  Not only is it breathtaking, but seeing all the momentoes laid at the wall, including photos of those that had not returned was moving for me.  I am sure my eyes were wet during that visit.  It gave me much to think about.

So Old NFO's article was meaningful to me to say the least.  It is worth your time to visit there and take the time to read it.  I knew some of this, but there is much more I had forgotten or didn't know.  

Happy Trails