Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Patio: Part II...

Okay, picking up where we left off (where I somehow lost track of my pictures) on the patio project.
The crew came on Christmas Eve to pour the slab and it only took about ten minutes to realize we'd be needing a new lawn.  In fairness, I had torn up a good part of it by digging up and moving a lot of the electrical, cable and water lines I had run in previous years. 
 It took a while to get the cement in and then, most of the evening to smooth everything.  I think they did a pretty good job, but I felt pretty bad that they worked so late on Christmas Eve.  As you might have guessed, there was no action until after New Year. 
The first step in adding the patio cover was to put up the posts. Once everything was straight and level, it was a matter of waiting for the I-Beams they ordered to come in.
I have always seen people build patio covers with 2X4, 2X6 or maybe 2X8's, but because we were going out 20 feet and tying into the roof, we needed longer, stronger wood.  I'm not gonna lie - seeing them cut into the existing rood and removing siding was making me a little nervous.  Eva said that I was coming home from work just to make the workers nervous, but honestly, I was just curious to see how it would all work. 
Aside from a few delays (which you just have to expect) the actual construction moved right along.
I was becoming more and more pleased with the way things were coming together in terms of finishing the corners and how the tie-in to the house looked.
Once everything was painted, they installed the ceiling fans, exterior lighting and we moved the hot tub into its new place. 

On the last day they brought in the electrician to run a new 220 line for our hot tub.  Because we had moved it into a new place, we had to pull the old wire and put a new longer length in.  I came home from work to find that they had just run the line but hadn't actually connected it.  Long story short, instead of calling them back, I just did the work since, I've wired a thing or two in my time.  I also figured out that the electrician didn't connect to the breaker properly so it was just as well that I did it.

All in all, adding this patio really improved our love of the house and our enjoyment of the back yard. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Patio Cover...

This might be a little late in the season to tell you about the joint Christmas present Eva and I got each other.  But, considering my track record in posting, I'm sure you'll understand. 

First though, let me happily report that I took the day off.  Oh, I had several errands to run including a stop at Big Willy to get some blood work done (routine) and then off to the old windshield place.

Yes, one of the downsides of living out here is that I have to take I-35 in order to get to and from everywhere, and with the abundance of trucks, I go through windshields like nobody's business.  Nobody's but Alamo Auto Glass, anyway.

So as they got started, the guy called me out to the shop to make sure I knew about some damage to the truck.  He said he just wanted me to know that they did not break the plastic thing between the hood and the windshield.

I said, "Yes, the Safelight guy broke the plastic when he replaced my windshield about a year ago, but I didn't notice it until after he left.  I figured it was too late once I signed for the windshield."
"Oh man, they should have fixed that." he said.  "Well, also, I just wanted you to also note this piece on the end.  That is missing."

"Yep." I nodded.  "That was what you guys broke about four or five months ago when I got this windshield.  I didn't realize it until I was driving home and figured it was too late.  Maybe you could fix that for me?"

There was a lot of unintelligible stuttering and stammering and I just turned around and walked to the waiting room.  Whatever.
Another thing I did today was replace the Tonneau cover on the bed of my truck.  These things only last a few years at the most and I've gone through several.  This one is a brand called Lund.  I'll simply say, you get what you pay for and I suspect I'll be replacing this one in six months.  Whatever.  I just don't have time to sit down and write an ugly letter to the Internet about it.

Okay, one other thing before we get to the real topic at hand, and that is what remains of one of my chain saws.   This blade is actually pretty good.  But while I was trying to cut down a tree, I blew the engine on one of the chainsaws.  I took it to a repair place and the man was really nice about it. 
He gave me a stern lecture on the proper handling of a chainsaw and actually explained how to tighten the chain.  Since he didn't charge me a dime for diagnosing the blown engine, I offered it to him for parts and he gave me a really funny look and said, "I'm sure it will fit in your garbage can just as easily as mine."  Not sure why I kept the chain, but you never know.

So back to the patio...

For a long while Eva has had this idea of us extending the back patio and then adding a cover.  Her idea involved a wooden deck and slapping on some aluminum as an overhang.  She'll surely argue that wasn't her plan, but trust me.

Anyway, we decided that for Christmas, that would be the present.  I love the idea of supporting local business so I contacted the husband of a lady I met through one of those Facebook garage sale pages.  He came over and looked at the project but after almost a month of trying to get a bid from him, I gave up.  We tried others and finally got a bid from a guy who was highly recommended who, as it turns out, framed our house when it was built.  That really appealed to me because I love the work he did on the house and I wanted the back patio cover to match our carport.

We decided to get started before Christmas in hopes that it would be done by the 24th or if all else failed, by New Years.  You may feel free to begin laughing now.
It was an adventure, but in the end, we are happy.  I took this picture today so you can see that we survived before I proceed with the pictures from December.

For those of you interested in dimensions, we made the patio 20 feet deep by 38 feet wide.  Yep.  No messing around here.  It gives us enough space for the hot tub and room for a patio dining set.

Eva called our contractor Menudo, not because he liked tripe for breakfast, but because like the musical group, he had different members of the crew daily.  Oh, and he gave Eva a run for her money in actual Spanish versus her more familiar Tex-Mex.  He and I communicated in English just fine.  He had to correct Eva on her Spanish more than once.
This was the start of the expansion of our patio.  Notice a few things.  One, I uncovered the electrical work going to our hot tub and two, notice the hot tub.  It took up a lot of the existing patio.
 By Christmas Eve, we had new concrete down and it looked like we would be on track for a happy New Year sometime in 2015.
We got a good laugh out of the cement work.  The thing is, I did not want a cement truck coming onto my driveway.  The last thing I need is a new patio and a cracked driveway at the same time, so I asked Menudo (and I swear, if that sounds racist when I call him/them Menudo, I promise you, his real name is Manual, and that seems just as racist to me in this context) to bring the cement in on Georgia Buggies.  That is, they park the cement truck on the street, then haul it in on these little carts with a bucket.  Instead, they used a Bobcat and totally destroyed the back yard.  This was a risk that I was ready for.  And they destroyed my little cement walkway, then repaired it.

 Unfortunately, I have to stop this post here.  In spite of the fact that I haven't posted anything in months, I'm really good about saving the pictures I take and I'm somewhat shocked to learn that I cannot seem to find all my pictures of the patio project.   I promise, I will find them and I will finish this little story about our patio.
As we patiently wait, I offer you a picture of a buck in the front yard.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Daily Deer... In Full Color Video!

I've been experimenting with my new deer camera recently.  Instead of setting the camera on still pictures, I've collected some video.  What could be more entertaining than video of little deers eating corn?

Well deer fights, of course!

And here is something a little more tame.  Enjoy.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

We're Expecting...

I know, I know.  I've all but abandoned this blog and it has been well over a month since the last post, but instead of a quick check-in about the tasty barbecue we had last night (it really was good, a place called Tracy's in the small town of Moore, southwest of Devine), this is really important and good news.

Daughter Roxanne and her husband Tyler are expecting a little baby.  Eva and I knew - we could just tell and in fact, the day they made the big announcement via Facetime to both Tyler's parents and us, we were sort of like, "Yep, knew it, told ya" and such.  I know, you'd think we could be doing backflips if only to share in all the excitement with the other grandparents, but like I said, we just knew.  Not to say that we aren't thrilled, because we are.

Roxanne has this little app on her phone that gives her information about the baby.  So at one point, she was referring to the baby as Jasmine, because it is the size of  a piece of rice.  Then she was calling it Raisin or Blueberry or something along those lines.  I think the current name is Nibblet. 
And, here is a picture to add to the family photo album. I've never really been good at picking out the parts of these pictures but it looks cute all the same.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lunch Report: Mark's Outing or Fatty's...

Some guys at work told me about this place in San Antonio not too far from the Alamodome on the east side of town.  Hearing their descriptions of juicy burgers and freshly made onion rings, I knew this was a place I'd need to try for myself.  So after a morning of yard work, Eva and I took the trip into SA and found ourselves at Fatty's Burger which is also named Mark's Outing
You can read the back story on their web page, but rest assured, Fatty Burger makes sense.
Inside the old building, things are cool, clean and comfortable.  A friendly staff and atmosphere (free WiFi) made the reasonable wait for our food seem short.  And when the baskets of burgers came out, we were both oohing and awing at the sights and smells.
Eva ordered the Fatty Burger special which included seasoned fries and a drink.  The grilled bun seemed sweet like the Hawaiian buns you can get at HEB, and boy were they good.   Everything was fresh, including the burger patty.  This meal alone will fill you up, promise.
Of course, I always want more, so I opted for what they call the Breakfast burger.  Think half-pound bacon cheeseburger with and egg on top.  More like Breakfast of Champions Burger!  I hate when you have to ask for mayo on a burger.  Not to worry; it was slathered on with extreme prejudice!  This is one of the best burgers I've had in a long time.  In fact, I'll be needing to return to try some of the others like the BBQ Burger that has brisket on top of the beef, or the Jalapeno burger.  You know that will be good.

Let's not forget the importance of good onion rings.  These were perfect, beer battered and beautiful.  I'm pretty sure I'll need to schedule an appointment with the cardiologist - that's how good they were.
Don't take my word for it, check this place out and decide for yourself.  I'm pretty sure you'll agree with me, Fatty's is a Tasty Treat!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Weekend Report: Raccoons, Deer, Movies, Burgers and Explosions...

It is hard not to find raccoons to be the cutest little creatures, right?  I mean, if you wanted to design a cuddly little stuffed animal for a child, I think the color and cuteness of a raccoon wouldn't be a bad design, as long as you didn't include the knife sharp nails.  I think it's that they are so lovably cute that our dog Gracie just wants to play with them.  Or at least stand at the base of the tree and bark and bark and bark, hoping that her dog language will translate into the raccoon equivalent of, "Won't you come down the tree and be friends?"

When we started noticing the cat's food bowl was constantly empty, we suspected that "Grandpa Cat", so named because our granddaughter calls him that, was sneaking around and eating it.  Little Kitty doesn't seem to mind him, but he won't come to me and let me pet him or hold him, and like the raccoons, he runs up a tree the minute Gracie tries to be friends.  Anyway, I decided to put the deer camera down by the cat food, and see if we could solve the mystery.
 And there you have it.  Not one raccoon, but a family!  Aren't they just adorable? It may not be clear from the photo, but I can tell you there is a big fat mama and 3 little ones.    If you notice the time stamp, this visit is around 3 30 in the morning.  What a coincidence that Gracie has been waking me up in the middle of the night and wanting to go outside.

So after seeing the evidence, I figured out that I needed to bring the cat food in at night.  I know, you'd think I would have figured this out after the time I caught the raccoon in the garage before we converted it to a man cave.  But, since bringing the food in at night, I thought the raccoons would go down the street and steal from the neighbors (which it turns out, they do anyway).

Last night we were getting ready for bed and I thought I would let Gracie go out one last time.  When I opened the door, she pushed the outer storm door open and right there in front of us was all four raccoons finishing up the last few kibbles of cat food.  I ran out after the dog and of course, the raccoons took off running.  The three little ones scurried up the first tree and the mama went to the second tree with Gracie close on her tail.  That thing made the ugliest hissing sound which scared me more than Gracie.

While Eva searched for our flashlight, I grabbed the .22 and slipped on my shoes so I could get Gracie back in.  I saw the big one in the tree but wanted to get Gracie in the house, lest I shoot the raccoon and have it drop down and now have to deal with the dog wanting to lick a dead critter.

By the time I came back outside ready to go all Rambo on the raccoons, they had taken advantage of the opening and scurried away.  I'll be honest, I'm not a hunter (not that I'm opposed hunting, at all), and the idea of shooting these critters doesn't appeal to me in the least, but I'm pretty sure the cuteness has run its course.  That cat does not seem to care about the raccoons.  In fact during all the commotion, she just sat there watching with little interest.  But the idea of Gracie getting ahold of one of these guys (or one of them getting ahold of her) does not interest me at all.

Eva wants me to sit outside like a sniper in hiding tonight, then start picking them off when they come back.  I think I may just bring the cat food in earlier.   And keep the gun close by.

(Meanwhile, country folk everywhere are laughing hysterically saying, What a dumbass.)
On Friday night, we had a bunch of folks from the office come by to eat some burgers and dogs, and pop off some fireworks.  At some point, a few folks decided to make a huge sparkler bomb with lots of sparklers and some electrical tape.  Kids, don't try this at home.
The result was a big boom!  Like shake the yard and rattle the windows type of boom.  If only we could put this technology to use against the raccoon problem.
We caught up on a few movies Saturday.  Admission with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.  I caught the first 10 minutes and slept through everything until about the last 20 minutes.  That was a nice little movie.  We also watched This is the End with all the popular comedians.  Lots of good laughs but really, really stupid.  I'd recommend it for people who have no real taste in movies.  Oh, on Friday night we sat out in the man cave and watched The Purge.  That was a good one. 
 Today we ran out for a quick burger at a place I saw mentioned in a Facebook group.  The place is called Monster Burger located just north of SW Military on Pleasanton Road. 
The menu is made up of burgers and such named after your scarier things.  So you have your Chupacabra, your Dracula, La Llorna and the like.  As a bonus, they were playing AMC's Walking Dead marathon on the TV.  What's not to like?
The place is definitely classified as a hole-in-the wall, and seriously, don't let the looks from the outside stop you from going in.  The folks there were as friendly as could be. 

Eva had the Chupacabra which is the basic burger.  You'll notice the fresh lettuce, and fixings and the seasoned fries that come with it.  The hand packed patties are moist and delicious, the toasted buns fresh and soft.
I went with La Cucuy which comes with salami, some sort of sausage and avocado.  Very juicy and very good.  I subbed the fries for onion rings, and while they were good, they probably had come frozen versus made fresh in the kitchen.  You can't have everything.  This idea of adding additional meats onto the burgers is something that originates in Mexico, so says the cook whose father concocted the burger menu.  I would have never thought of having fried salami with my burger, but it was great.
Hey, since I'm here anyway and it seems like I've been slacking off on blogging the past few months, what say I leave you with some deer pictures.
This little guy has really been sticking around here for a few weeks.  The other day, I walked outside and he was up close to our porch but as soon as he saw me he was off like a shot and over the fence where he promptly stood there and looked at me.  I think he is thirsty since he was close to the water hose.
 This is his ear.
 He's just been hanging out.
 And this is what it looks like when a little reindeer starts to get his horns.  They look so soft and felty.  I know some people really dislike the deer but I'll take the cute deer over the cute raccoons.