Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Daily Deer: The Dork Edition...

Last night we spent a few hours sitting out on Stoney Island with a nice fire going in the pit and some cool beverages to to go along with the perfect temperature.  We had the tree lights on and I had the radio tuned into King Country out of OKC, so to be honest, the last thing we expected was a whole mess of deer to come walking by.  Several times during the evening, even with Gracie sitting on my lap or occasionally playing peekaboo with Little Kitty, we'd spot the deer sneaking over the fence and quietly tip-toeing their way from the back of the property, out to the front. 

The cat is one of the deer.  If she wants to walk amongst them, they don't care, and neither does she.  But Gracie has her own strict rule.  She will chase the deer if they are outside the fence, but if they are inside the fence with her, she suddenly has no interest in them.  Of course, to put on a good show, she will wait until they are just close enough to jump outside the property, then she'll take off running as if to show us that it was her bravery that got the intruders out.  She's a good dog that way.  We keep a sign posted on our fence that says, "Beware of Dog".  We believe it helps her self-esteem. 
Anyway, I don't have any pictures of the deer crossing the property last night, but this week, the deer camera caught some other objects of entertainment.  First off, I am seen here in the new overalls Eva bought me.  I'm not gonna lie, they are comfy.  But I do feel a bit dorky walking into the HEB looking all farmer-like.  It wasn't too many years ago - okay maybe a decade or two - when all the hip kids were wearing overalls.  Out here, you pretty much just see old fat guys wearing them.  I fit in where I can.
My son got caught by the deer cam as he was on his way to spread some corn.  His generation hasn't picked up on the whole overall thing yet.
 And of course, once she knew it was safe from random deer, Gracie had to go and inspect the area for clues.
Finally, this is the same group that we have been seeing quite a bit.  They seem to make their way from street to street and house to house knowing that so many people like to get their deer fix.  You really have to be careful when driving through the sub-division because, night or day, you are likely to encounter at least a few crossing the road to get to the next source of snacks.  They got it pretty good out here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Latest Report: My Poor Ignored Blog...

I don't let myself get upset or excited over the fact that I can't make daily posts on this blog, so hopefully it doesn't bother you, either.  There just aren't enough hours in the day, so says the fat guy sitting on the recliner in front of the TV, fast-forwarding through a DVR full of "must watch" shows.

Before I give you a recap on what we've been watching lately, I need to tell you about my mom's visit and Little Kitty.

Week before last, my sister and her husband drove down to visit San Antonio and her son (my nephew) and his family, so my mom and her cousin flew over from Tampa.  In short, it was a nice little meet-up in a centralized locale, and let's face it, San Antonio is a great place to visit (until it gets cold and rainy).  And even then, if you are coming from Minnesota like my sister and her husband, cold in rainy beats -20 and snow blizzards.
After my sister and her husband returned to the frozen tundra, my mom and cousin Shirley came and stayed with us for the weekend. We had a great time, showing them around the Tri-city area (Lytle-Natalia-Devine), and even took a nice trip down the road to Yancey for a visit to the general store there.  My son drove down from OKC and got to introduce his daughter to my mom for the first time, and that was truly wonderful.
Eva, Mom, & Cousin Shirley

We took a trip to the original Clear Springs Restaurant up near New Braunfels since it was my Mom's father who found the place during a search for good catfish years and years ago, and we have loved it ever since. 
Mom, Buccee & Shirley
After thoroughly stuffing ourselves with onion rings and catfish, we headed up the street to Buccee's so they could purchase some Texas souvenirs.  If you haven't experienced Buccee's, just know that they have an enormous selection of Texas stylized gifts and memorabilia that can keep you occupied for an hour.  And, the bathrooms are very, very clean.
 My side of the family has always been pet people, both dogs and cats.  It was a no-brainer that my mom would take an immediate liking to Little Kitty (or Kiki (or Keke)) as Eva calls her. 
And it was also clear that Gracie would be jealous of their time together.  Everyone, the pets, my mom, Cousin Shirley and my sister's family all enjoyed the visit to San Antonio, and we are hoping for another visit when the bluebonnets make an appearance.
Speaking of our little stray cat that has adopted us, we took Little Kitty to the vet to get her fixed.  The last thing I need is more little stray cats entertaining me.  They will give you pain meds or, if you are willing to pay, they'll just shoot-her-up with some sort of Kitty Morphine before she goes home.  We opted for the (clearly) more expensive route and the poor little thing was just out of it.  She was walking around like a little drunkard, bumping into things and occasionally just laying down before trying to move some more. 
Even Eva felt bad for her and offered a shoulder to lean on.  Of course, we have converted our garage into an apartment for her, complete with a selection of beds, a heater, a little cat playground and a kitchen, but given her state, it was obvious she would be staying in the big house for the night.  I set her up in the laundry room with all the essentials plus a litter box (which cats naturally know how to use).  She meowed a few times during the night, but not enough for me to let her out, and by morning, the kitty drugs had worn off.  She is still feeling a little puny, but for the most part, is doing well.

------<<<>>>------

While my sister was here, I suggested a few podcasts that I listen to (does anyone listen to the radio anymore?) and thought I might highlight a few. 

I love interviews and biography sort of things, but I like to be entertained.  This is why one of my favorite podcasts, and one of the most popular on iTunes is Marc Maron's WTF.  Yes, WTF stands for exactly what you think it does, so if you are squeamish with potty mouth, beware.  The first time I heard the opening, not that I'm squeamish, I was sort of taken aback.  But Maron is the best interviewer ever.  He has a studio set-up in his garage and comedians and movie stars and musicians come over to his house, sit down and just chat.  This isn't a pre-scripted 4 minute interview on Leno where he plays the straight man while the star plugs their latest movie.  If you have never downloaded and listened to a podcast, you might want to scroll through the list of people he has interviewed and try it out.  Just last week, I was shocked at how interesting an interview with Seth Green could be.  Seriously, give WTF a try.

I just started listening to one that is not quite as polished as Maron called, The History Chicks.  From what I can gather, these are two moms recording their podcast from a family room or someplace in the house, because you can occasionally hear kids playing.  Never-the-less, they research a person in history, then tell about it adding in their own remarks and such.

I am really enjoying several podcasts with the theme of people telling stories.  The Moth is a well known series where people go to these events at coffee houses or big theaters, get up on stage and tell a personal story, usually written in advance.   These stories are usually fairly short but very entertaining.  Another one I enjoy is called Strangers where host Lea Thau explores different stories that have a theme involving strangers.  A recent weird one involved a guy who asked her to borrow some of her son's poop.  Don't let that scare you away, the story was really interesting. 

Anyway, I have an iPhone full of these podcasts that keeps my drive to and from work entertaining.  At very minimum, if you don't like the idea of these, you owe it to yourself to listen to the weekly This American Life with Ira Glass podcast.  They take the radio show and convert it into a podcast.  Good stuff. 

------<<<>>>------

TV Shows and Movies Update:

Eva can't enjoy American Horror Story with me because of the scary music at the beginning of the show.  If you saw season one where the story centered around a house that had issues, like me you were surprised to find many/most of the same actors in an asylum for the mentally disturbed in season two.  I have never really considered myself a fan of the horror genre per se, but I enjoy good writing and story telling.  The season finale happens on Wednesday but I'll have to wait to watch it when Eva is doing something else so she doesn't get the willies!  I must warn you in advance, this show is very nearly pornographic given some of the story lines and images, but don't let that stop you.  Jessica Lange is incredible in AHS as is the make-up artists who help create some of the most disturbing imagery in the asylum.

Justified and Shameless are both back on for new seasons.   If you ever saw Deadwood and appreciated the rich, sophisticated dialog coming from the seemingly uneducated hicks, you will thoroughly enjoy the amazing writing of Justified.  Likewise, if you ever watched an episode of Jerry Springer and wondered, what do these people live like when they go home, Shameless has got you covered.  It is nothing short of Springer, the home version.  Seriously, William H. Macey and the girl who plays his daughter, Emmy Rossum, are spectacular.  I'm eager to track down the original UK version of this show and watch it.

Last night we watched a movie called Hemingway and Gellhorn.  It was sort of a documentary but played out like a regular movie.  I loved the way they incorporated actual black and white war footage and easily faded back into color creating a seamless transition.  I think we also found out that, pretty much every movie we have seen with Nicole Kidman, we like. 

We had a movie on our DVR called 50/50 with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Seth Rogan and sat down to watch it.  Wow!  That was an incredible movie.  I keep thinking how the little kid from 3rd Rock has transformed into this total movie star. Anyway, it is a story about a young guy who gets cancer.  I'll spoil it and tell you that he lives, but you already know that since you have seen Gordon-Levitt in The Darknight Rises and Looper since this movie was made. 

And I think this is enough for one morning.  What movies, TV shows and podcasts are you checking out?  Any tips on stuff I need to be watching or listening to? 
  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

My Daily Deer: Front Yard Edition...

"What the..."  Eva looked up from the computer screen out the office window facing our front yard this morning to find this little guy standing there.
I had just let Gracie in less than a minute or two earlier, so either this young buck had just jumped the fence, or Gracie is losing her sense of smell.
This isn't something we necessarily encourage - in fact, I purposely hang my deer cam on the fence facing the back side of the property so we can enjoy the deer without them having a nibble or two of the Hibiscus.  But it is not uncommon for us to come home in the evenings and as the gate swings open, see in the headlights of the truck lots of deer wandering around in the yard. 
The difference is, I never get more than just a blurry picture or two before they take off.

The property just across the street is part of a cul de sac that leads to the end of our sub-division and beyond there, lots of wide open ranch land with coyotes, wild hogs, and more deer.  Our visitors make their way along this path on a daily basis and seem to come and go through here back and forth to that big open area.
After we made more than enough noise to make the little guy skittish, he took off to meet his mom across the street and as I found, his little brother, standing by the fence between ours and the property next door would join them before heading off into wherever they go. 

But it was a nice Sunday morning visit.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Weekend Notes: Goodbye Holiday Season...

Here we go with a quick chance to catch up on all the things going on out here.  First and foremost, now that we are already in January, please take down your freakin' Christmas lights!  I promise to walk out into the yard today and remove my Christmas balls that Eva so lovingly hung from the tree.  Go ahead and giggle, the neighbors do. 
 There is something so juvenile yet refreshing to have a middle-aged woman drive by and yell, Dave, I love your balls.

That aside, this is the ugliest time of year, in my opinion.  I simply love October in south central Texas.  The 100+ degree days leave us, there is an occasional cool crisp breeze, but for the most part, we are transformed into one of those places you want to visit like Orlando (unless you have ever been to Orlando, and realize, no thanks, I'll stay in Texas), but the point is, the weather is just wonderful, high 70's or low 80's.   But by mid November and December, without any benefit of snow, the entire place just turns gray.  It was as if one day, someone flipped a switch and my yard went brown, the trees lost all color and everything looks dead and dreary.  Not unlike any day in England.

Nice segue, right?  As you may know, I have been scanning in photos for years, trying to catalog all the pictures I have taken before the digital age, and now, I have several boxes of old photo albums from my parents house that I am digging through.  For the record, Eva hates this.  Not important; I have to have a hobby when I retire in a decade or so, so these pictures will be around for a while.  Anyway, in 1984 while I was stationed in England, my grandparents and parents came for a visit.  They stayed in London (at the Waldorf) for part of the trip, and in Bedford, closer to my base for a few days.
 This is a picture of the worldly travelers in front of the book store at Westminster Abbey (maybe, I can't recall).
 And this is my grandfather, Ralph Gower, with me and the matching hats we bought from a small shop in SoHo.  Are we not two hip cats? 
So going back to December, I have a few notes and pictures that must be shared.  First off, my oldest nephew (he is only about 12 years younger than me, so that makes him an adult, and then some) has moved to San Antonio from Virginia.  His family will join him in the coming months.  Santa regrets not checking the naughty or nice list before offering to snap a picture.
 Since he is working downtown, we met him for dinner on the Riverwalk and dined at a place we have missed over the years, called Lone Star Cafe.   Just a few notes.  Our group had six, and the wait was brief - maybe 15-20 minutes, which given some wait times at places we walked by on the way was fantastic.  We were seated at a table overlooking the Riverwalk and our server was very quick with menus, taking the orders and refills.  Gottta love that.
 We ordered some onion rings as an appetizer, and I must tell you that the taste was outstanding.  I love onion rings and these were brilliantly seasoned and cooked to the proper amount of crispity goodness.  Only one problem, they were just slightly above warm.  It appeared that they may have been sitting there for a while.  They tasted great, but they were not hot.   And my rule is, nothing goes back to the kitchen, so we just let it go.  If I go there again, I will order the rings but I'll ask the waiter to give me a batch just out of the fryer.  You'll want to do the same.
 We had a bunch of different orders and I seemed to get the short end of the stick.  I ordered some sort of burger.  I just recall that it looked good but I just wasn't impressed.   The bun was good, the jalapenos, pickles, onions and such were all good, but the burger patty was just okay.
My son had a steak that was overcooked.  I took a few bites of it but just gave up.  We didn't even take it in a to-go bag.  There ought to be a law that no steak can be cooked any more than medium. 
Someone, maybe Eva or maybe my daughter had chicken fried steak.  I think they used a similar breading to the onion rings and it was actually fantastic.  Potatoes were good too.

Overall, good service, some good food, some not as good.  It is worth a try if you are looking for something beyond the usual places on the Riverwalk.  Just be pretty specific when you order about how you want your steak cooked and the freshness of the onion rings.  I know, you shouldn't have to...
And then there was the day before Christmas.  Eva tried to get us all out of the house to enjoy the yard.  There I am with my son and son-in-law, throwing the football around.  Then, someone decides to throw the football over a tall tree.  And that's when it all started.  So I'll keep this brief.  Tyler, who has a history of sports related malfunctions (remember the golfing incident?) gets the autographed Dallas Cowboys football stuck in the very highest part of the tree.  So, we have another cheap football, and in an effort to throw it at the first stuck football, it gets stuck. 
Next, why not try a basketball?  That one was mine.  One shot and stuck!  I yelled, "This tree hates balls!"  My son decides he will throw a baseball bat up at the basketball and that promptly becomes stuck. 
Next, I find a long wooden dowel from the garage and start throwing it up and it too becomes stuck. Eventually, using a softball, we would get all but the original football unstuck.  There was a last ditch effort by Roxanne to shimmy up the tree to try to shake the limbs, but we aborted that effort rather quickly.  We decided that eventually, the wind would knock the ball down.

And we didn't have to wait long.
On Christmas day, the wind went crazy and not only did the ball come flying out of the tree, but I stood out on the back patio and watched my latest jacuzzi canopy get shredded.  At least I didn't lose the entire frame like last time
Yea.  Not a lot I could do but watch, then go online and order a replacement. 
 I also found a section of fence that came undone but I was able to quickly put it back in place and nail it in a little stronger than apparently I had done the first time.  It was that windy.

But Christmas day was not a bust, regardless of the wind.  In fact, all the good boys and girls got to enjoy of visit from Santa (following his recovery from the aforementioned nephew laying on his lap), and I am happy to report that no tears were shed, nobody had any accidents, and aside from Santa nearly having a uniform induced stroke, it was all good.
This is Santa sharing a moment with our granddaughter, Isabella.  She is not fond of any holiday personalities but I think Santa rates above that scary Easter Bunny any day.
And no visit would be complete without The Bee.  She looked into Santa's eyes with suspicion, as if she had seen this man somewhere else.  But she never let on to any of the other kids.
And then there was Tristan.  4 year-olds are the perfect age for Christmas.  This little kid is in almost every picture we took during Santa's visit, because he was trying to really get to know the man.  Here he is saying, "What the hell, Aunt Eva, you know Santa is on a diet.  Quit trying to feed him cookies!"

We did spend New Years Eve at home, watched a few movies before sitting in the office to scan pictures and look out the windows as nearby residents blew off hundreds of dollars worth of fireworks.  I have to admit, some of the displays were quite impressive.  And with a slight sprinkling, I was not even concerned about some stray bottle rocket landing in my yard and burning all our trees down.  And with all of that holiday business behind us, we can get on to 2013 and a fresh beginning of new adventures.

Friday, January 4, 2013

My Daily Deer: Chilly...

Not a whole lot to say aside from, lots of good action due to the cooler weather.  In a week, I had over 3,000 pictures to sift through.  Here are some highlights.
 We keep seeing this guy come into the yard.  I'm pretty sure he's the one who has crapped in the back part of the yard more than a few times.
This is a cute little couple just trying to get an afternoon snack.
 Hello?  Are you my tail?  You are very white!
And some raccoons join in on the nibbling of vittles.  They don't mind if the deer doesn't mind.