Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Fence and Crappy 'Cakes...

In an effort to beat the heat I got out early this morning and finished up the fence that I started a week or two ago.
The idea was sort of an afterthought really.  We made a little fenced in area so we could start a small garden in a raised bed.  As you can see, the garden hasn't been planted yet, but we'll get there.  Of course, it has been adorned with colorful butterflies, something that Eva thinks will attract real butterflies.  I suppose.
In hindsight, I probably should have just made the fence a full six feet high instead of cutting the boards in half.  Right now I have a trailer and a bunch of scrap lumber stacked behind it.  It is open enough that we can use it as a pen for the dogs or small children if need be.  
 But eventually, if I ever get a lot of junk, it would be better hidden behind a six foot fence instead of the smaller size.  Perhaps it is an incentive not to collect junk.  That and watching Hoarders helps.
Totally unrelated to the fence.  We stopped in a Denny's last night on our way home from truck shopping.  I have a long standing history (goes back about 10 years now) of boycotting Denny's due to crappy service.  But, ya never know what can change over a decade, so we stopped in.
 They have this "Build your own Grand Slam" thing where you order four items from the list of choices.  I got pancakes, bacon, eggs and grits.  Eva got pancakes, ham, eggs and hash browns.  I was totally underwhelmed and in fact, didn't even finish my pancakes.  Am I kidding me?  I always eat my pancakes, but these tasted seriously like crap.   But the service was good.  Either way, I'll stick with Jim's.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Wild Aminals...

Yes, that's a-m-i-n-a-l-s, 'cause that's how the kids say it.
First up, is this a fox?  It looks like it.
And then, I can't help cut go through the hundreds (okay, really thousands) of images of deer to find some goofy action snaps.  I fully expect Eddie Murphy as the Donkey to speak on behalf of this deer.
And finally, I'm pretty sure we now know who the culprit was in the overturning of my garbage can last week.  Needless to say, the tops on the cans are now secure.
 AlanDP from Blogonomicon commented that the deer are just like big rats and we may regret luring them toward our property once we start to grow a garden.  With this in mind, I'll start moving the food away from the back and toward the front, since just up the street in an empty cul de sac, my neighbor (and occasionally we) put bags of deer corn out just so they will have some nutrition.  This drought really sucks for the poor little (and big) aminals

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday Morning Report: Cracks, Deer, Gardens, Scorpions, Tires and Idol...

We have no shortage of plumber's crack in Lytle...
...and they certainly allow women to be plumbers!  Jeez.  Suspenders and shirt garters for everyone.
 Moving right along.  Did I mention that I now have more pictures of deer feeding than I possibly know what to do with?  I gave up on taking video and just started letting the deer cam snap a bunch of pictures every few seconds.  
 At this point, I find myself being less amazed at the constant traffic all night long but hopeful for the occasional entertaining picture.  "Hey, ya wanna close-up?"

So after we built the long walkway from the patio out to one of the islands, we had this small area between the garbage cans and a tree.  Eva has decided to take up gardening, so we are putting in one of those small raised garden boxes.
 Since I always seem to have some spare lumber and such around, we are fencing in a small area behind the garage that can be used to stack wood out of sight.  What a perfect place to raise a farm full of brown recluse and scorpions.  Hurray!

Speaking of scorpions... Last night we were sitting outside getting ready to jump in the jacuzzi when something caught my eye near the back door.  When you kill one, there will always be another scurrying about because they seem to travel in pairs.  So this morning, I have four dead scorpions participating in the circle of life, fulfilling their role in the food chain, so to speak.
 You know I like to see strange things.  I forgot to post a picture we took a few weeks ago near Moore, a small town south of us on I-35.
 Pranksters out here don't waste time with graffiti and that sort of vandalism, instead they do something creative.  Like hoist a huge tire up to the top of a big tower.
 And finally,  this is our daughter Roxanne performing before a crowd of enthusiastic airmen during Manas Idol.  She was selected to move on to the next round for her version of a Journey tune.  She thought it was going to be like a karaoke thing, but instead had to perform without the benefit of music or teleprompter!  Exciting stuff.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tight Fit...

Yea, I'm thinking this is going to end up on the 10PM news.
We were leaving Home Depot when I saw this little situation.  Some guy purchased a huge industrial sized fan and then thought he could just shove it in his compact car trunk.  Nope!  He did go back in the store and purchased some rope and even enlisted the help of an employee to try to tie the thing into place, but really, this didn't look all that promising.  Yikes!

The Walkway, The Rail, Mulch and Oh, Deer...

Our investment in Quikrete and crushed decayed granite continues.  This time, we made a walkway that extends from the pack patio out to our first island under some trees in the back yard.
I keep garbage cans behind the shed/garage and we decided to start there, making it easier to walk out there without getting all sandy. 
We also have some trees in that area that had looked pretty unsightly, so we decided to incorporate them into the mix.
 The idea for the project was to make a walkway that would make it easy to walk from the house to the island and not have to worry about stickers, poison nettle, holes and such, and more importantly, find a clear path from point A to point B after sundown.  
 We are pretty happy with how the tree came out.  We put in some river rock and then topped it off with a water feature that friends from the old neighborhood gave us.  It works well, I think.
 This entire project took 24 of the 80 pound bags of Quikrete, 1 1/2 yards of decayed granite and 1/2 a yard of river rock.  I should probably just start having them deliver pallets of this stuff to the house.
 Someday, when we have grass, it will all come together!
But first, we need to build a small raised vegetable garden in between the trees and the back of the shed.  I think that will be next.


 In unrelated news, we added some railing to the front porch of the house.  This is something we needed to do for a few reasons.  First, there is about an 18 inch drop from the porch down to the ground below.  That is pretty ridiculous.  Secondly, we needed something to make the front of our house look different from the apparent cookie cutter house that is being built at the end of our street.  Pretty much same layout, just a different color brick.  In ten years when there are houses all along the road, I'm sure it won't be noticeable.  The builder for some reason likes this floor plan (and we do too), but come on, we should shake things up a bit - maybe at least do a reverse or something.
And finally, we capped things off with some more mulch in the front. As we were putting in the mulch, we got a welcome smattering of raindrops.  I suspect that someday it will rain for real and the bushes that we have planted along the front sidewalk will grow to be big enough to be seen from the street!


In the "how sad is that?" department, we have finally found a place to set our camera where the deer feel comfortable enough to come and have their photo taken.  On the side of the house we set the camera on the fence and put some deer corn out.
I have more video and pictures of deer having a little snack at night than you can shake a stick at.  This is pretty typical.  They come in, have a little feed, look around and then after about ten or fifteen minutes, move along.

Because of the wind, I was having a problem with the motion sensor going off every time the weeds would move, and I hadn't caught any pictures of deer during the day. Perhaps I need a bigger SD card. 
The other day though, I got these pictures.  You can see the temperature gauge on the photo, 103 degrees.  Up at the airport in San Antonio it may be 99 or 98 but I assure you, it is always hotter out here in Natalia.  So anyway, look how pitiful this little creature is.  Needless to say, we'll be sure to keep the water bucket full and the feed coming. 

Bummer: KD's is Closed...

We aren't quite sure what we are going to do for a really, really good burger in the tri-city (Lytle, Natalia, Devine) area now that KD's has apparently closed shop.  We had hoped maybe they were on vacation or something, but when I drove into the lot as a truck was hauling away the refrigerated display case and all the signs on the doors were removed, that pretty much sealed the deal. Too bad.  That was a damn fine burger!

Unfortunately, KD's was located far enough beyond the exit into Lytle that, unless you knew about it, you would pass it.  No signage whatsoever, so none of the passing I-35 traffic to take advantage of the awesome goodness that came from within.  If they would set up a little trailer next to the Raspa guy at the HEB parking lot, they'd probably do quite well.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lunch Report: Bolner Meat Company...

Saturday we made a road trip into San Antonio to gather supplies.  Okay, by truck it is only a twenty minute or so drive, but if it was 1914 and we really had to hitch a team of mules to a covered wagon and make the trip to Bolner's at the corner of South Flores and Mitchell, it would have been a much longer haul from Natalia, though still worth it. 
What the original family members probably didn't have to worry about in 1914 when the market was first opened was taggers.  When I explained to a nice lady there that we had actually been to Bolner's before but hadn't gone in because the place seemed to be boarded up, she told me how the family had restored the beautiful building but each time taggers would vandalize the place with spray paint (an all too common problem in many areas of San Antonio), they would power wash the filth off, but in doing so, damage the delicate exterior.  As a result, wood siding covers most of the lower portion of the building so it can be easily painted over when tagged.  Sad.  
 Inside is an entirely different world.  As soon as we walked in the door and saw the family pictures, the cases of meats and spices, the small dining area and the smell of good food, the visual of the drab exterior was all but forgotten.  This is the exact atmosphere we like when looking for a new place to eat - a place where more than just your taste buds are stimulated.
I always see the Fiesta brand spices when we shop at HEB, but had no idea that the brand was created by the Bolner family.  What would be awesome is if they were to bottle the barbecue sauce and sell that at HEB!
So onto the food.  If you didn't make the drive to just grab some thick t-bones and some pecan brittle, you'll be happy to know that they serve up burgers, smoked chicken, brisket, ribs, sausage and a full selection of sides.  
 We both went for the two meat platter and selected chicken and brisket.    In the top picture, my plate included green beans and some sort of sauteed mushroom concoction that was wonderful.  Eva had broccoli with cheese and the mac & cheese and our server threw in a few little potatoes so we could try them.  Good stuff.

We did make a tactical error in having them place the sauce directly on top of the meat.  Make no mistake, the sauce is outstanding (in fact, we purchased a container to go) but it would have made it a lot easier if we could have dipped it instead.  No worries though, both the chicken and brisket were delicious.  Next time, I may have to try the ribs and sausage.

Sides:  The green beans were excellent, not over seasoned but certainly flavorful.  We were told by a friend that the cream corn was to die for, but it was not being served during our visit.  Instead, I had the order of mushrooms in some sort of cream sauce.  You either like them or you don't and I loved them.  Eva's mac & cheese was very good, but like mushrooms must be eaten while hot.  After a while, the cheese hardens, so get to work on it right away.  This is not some boxed side order, but real mac and real cheese.  The broccoli and cheese was much the same way using real cheese versus some Velveeta situation.  If you are going to be healthy and eat broccoli, this is the way you want it.  The little potatoes would make a great choice if you are trying to skip the cheese.

Our only complaint was with the hard rolls served with the food. They were hard.  The birds in our back yard enjoyed them though.
Once done eating we strolled around the small shop and looked at the beautiful cuts of meat and the prepared meats in the refrigerated cases.  They had all sorts of meal ideas - stuffed tenderloin and such that would help out in making a fancy meal.  But Eva really liked the Tur-Duc-Ken.
It has been a while since we experienced both an interesting setting along with some outstanding barbecue vittles.  Get down to Bolner's and you'll understand why we think it's a Tasty Treat!