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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Park Report: Cathedral Rock Nature Park...

It has been an especially ruff week for our big dog, Gracie, now that the little dog has gone to live in New Jersey. Right off the bat, doesn't that sound like a big lie? I mean, if your parents told you that your dog went to go live in the country, wouldn't you think there was some violence involved? Well, in this case, Panda did go to New Jersey and we have been dealing with an extra needy Gracie this week.To be honest, I think it has less to do with missing the little dog and a lot more of, wondering if we are going to let her come back.
Anyway, we took Gracie for a much needed walk just a minute or two from our house at Cathedral Rock Nature Park. In case you haven't been, this is where the city took a huge unused space that is up against a dry creek bed that floods quite often, and turned it into a wonderful series of natural walking trails. I am especially pleased that they made most of this place wheelchair accessible. No, I'm not a wheelchair user, but I figure if you can make your way through this place on one of those electric powered devices, I ought to be able to waddle my fat ass up and down the trails.Just a skateboarder minute away is Oscar Perez Memorial Park and sadly, some of the same disrespectful graffiti that plagues that well intended space has made its way to CRNP. Too bad. Regardless, it isn't a bad place for a walk or to take your dog for a little outing.If you are reading this from outside of San Antonio, don't worry, this dead, dry look in the trees is normal. Today was such an incredibly beautiful day with the weather a perfect mid 60's or so. The wind was so slight that when we heard some dry leaves on the trees rattle, my wife started searching for a snake or a gopher or anything that might attack, but it was nothing more than leaves easily blowing from time to time. If we were to be attacked, there would be plenty of clean-up ready for us.
After a nice walk along one of the easier trails (you could really spend an hour or two here if you wanted), we brought Gracie back and gave her a quick drink of water.Then, we violated all rules of common courtesy and decency and allowed her to take a few trips down the slide. Hey, there were no other kids using it.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

HD TV Report: Pickin' and Eatin'...

So I was flippin' between the New England Patriots vs NY Giants historic (so historic that they had to show it on NBC and CBS in addition to the NFL Network that those of us who have a quality provider get as part of our regular package) and the Valero Alamo Bowl between the Texas A&M Aggies and JoePa's Nitanny Lions from Penn State.

My wife screams with delight as she sees an Aggie Fan perform a full nasal extraction and consumption in a matter of seconds on live TV!

Say what? I said.
"That guy picked his nose..."
"Then he ate it!"

So I said, "Maybe he was just rubbing his nose and then was rubbing his mustache".

"Nope", my wife says, "we have a DVR. Rewind that booger-eater and watch what happens."
Sure enough. Aggie dude picks his nose...
Then eats it.

NOTE: Apparently, we weren't the only people to see it. This poor guy is quite the topic of discussion, here and here and this is really good!

Trip Report: St. Hedwig, Adkins, China Grove and the Iron Skillet...

You may have gathered that my wife and I enjoy an occasional drive out and around just to see what we can see. I sat around today researching the perfect short little trip so we could get out for the afternoon and maybe catch a bite to eat and shop at a different HEB from our usual three. Well, we got out alright, but things just didn't go as I had planned.There are two small towns just east of San Antonio called St. Hedwig and Adkins. Both are apparently nothing more than the intersections of farm to market roads, but I find places like these to be very interesting. As I have mentioned before, San Antonio is situated such, that in any direction, you can be out in the middle of the boonies in no time.I knew there was at least one or two things worth seeing in St. Hedwig. We pulled into this pace just because I like the name, Lubianski - Food Feed and Fun! How can you go wrong there? Well, we didn't actually go inside, so I guess we'll never know. A little further down the road was this beautiful church that could be seen from a great distance. What we didn't know was that as I was pulling in, there was a bride just getting ready to enter the church. In fact, she actually stopped for a second thinking that possibly we were late arrivals to the wedding. When I sped out of the parking lot - the internationally accepted sign of, no, I'm not going to marry you, she went ahead with the the original plan. I trust anyway.As is often the case when we visit small towns, my wife sees a house or a piece of land that gets her in the mood to win the lottery and give up our fabulous existence in Silver Creek 78250, and move off onto a plantation or something, ala Chevy Chase in Funny Farm or Fletch Lives (your choice). She spotted this gem and I have to admit, it sure would be fabulous until we had to mow the yard or clean the place.Now town is complete without a modern new Post Office, and St Hedwig has one. Proof.I had a list of two or three different restaurants for us to choose from so we could grab a bite, but as we drove through the winding country roads, the few that we passed were well past us when we realized it. So on we went to Adkins, just a short drive away and when we stumbled upon Texas Pride Barbecue. Our lips began smacking immediately.Sadly, when I whipped the van into the parking lot, it was clear that we were either too late for lunch, too early for dinner, or say it isn't so, closed for the holidays. But, it was neat to look at. From outside. Hungry. Another time I suppose.We headed down Hiway 87 back toward San Antonio and I took a quick picture of the China Grove sign. You know, a lot of people wonder about that old Doobie Brothers song - well there really is a sleepy little town, down around San Antonio.So, no trip is complete unless we get some vittles and it just so happened that we weren't far from I-10 and a string of large truck stops. Several years ago, we had stopped at an Iron Skillet, a restaurant tied to a truck stop there, and we enjoyed some great steaks there. We figured the Iron Skillet wouldn't take off for the holidays, what with all the truckers still needing gas... or diesel as it were.
We headed in and took a look at the menu and I opted to go for the chicken fried steak. With great memories of our last visit, my wife ordered a 7 ounce steak that was on special. Both come with a side and a trip to the soup and salad bar.
You quickly get the gimmick of the name, Iron Skillet, when you retrieve your salad plate from the warmer. It really is an iron skillet. The weird thing is, usually, salad plates are kept cold so your salad will be crisp and cool. These plates were warm to the touch. Who cares?I don't want to gross you out with my licked clean skillet, but does it look like rust on there?As we were eating our salads and trying a little taste of the vegetable soup (that was nasty), I saw this man up at the salad bar. In case you can't read the shirt, it says, "If God don't want me chasin' big women, then why'd He make 'em so slow?" Nothing but the finest clientel in the places I take my wife.We had an absolutely fantastic waitress who was probably the manager or at least the manager of the section. She was the type of gal you hope to get anytime you go out. Fast, witty, nice and engaging, but not too over the top. Like, at no time did she say, "Kiss my grits" or anything. She brought us our food and my chicken fried steak was outstanding! I even ate the little orange slice.My wife was so excited to get her steak - her mouth seemed to be watering at the sight of it (sorry, I didn't catch any drooling on film). But it only took about a bite for her to get that awkward look on her face. She asked me how my chicken fried steak was, and I said, Great! Then I asked her how her steak was. She poked a forkful in my face and asked me to try it. Clearly, there was an issue. I immediately started thinking Mad Cow. My wife has a little more experience in these matters and suggested it may have been freezer burn.

As we discussed this, our waitress sensed there was a problem and came by to ask how things were. Please keep in mind, I never, repeat NEVER send anything back because you know the drill; boogers, spit, around the world, anything is possible back in the kitchen. I quickly said, "My chicken fried steak is WONDERFUL!" hoping my wife would take the cue and perhaps we could hit Whataburger on the way home.

Nope. Almost apologetically, my wife told her that there was something seriously wrong with the steak. The waitress was so incredibly professional and over the top apologetic and embarrassed about the whole thing. She offered to bring out a new steak on the house, of course, but in hearing how good my chicken fried steak was, my wife asked if she could just have one of those. And as quick as humanely possible, she had returned with a huge chicken fried steak, and like mine, it was excellent.
On top of that, she took 10 percent of the bill as would be expected, but not all restaurants will go that far. In the end, we would have preferred to have eaten in either Adkins or St. Hedwig, but given the great service, we were fairly pleased with it.

I'd love to hear about your little trips to the country and the food you ate when you got there. Leave a comment or e-mail me.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Perkins Place: We Don't Need a Bulldozer...

What we need is a small tactical nuke...As promised yesterday, I took a drive by the artistic outdoor showroom of the Reverend Seymour Perkins this afternoon and my experience was much different than the first time around. I'm almost embarrassed to complain about the occasional bout of graffiti in The 78250. I won't stop complaining mind you, but it as though we live on two different planets.Knowing where the infamous home is, I drove down Nevada so I could pull into the little convenience store across the street to evaluate the situation. Other than a hooker on the pay phone, the shop was fairly empty. I pulled around trying to get a good angle for a picture and saw lots of folks further down the street on Nevada.I opted to drive around the block and come back from the other way just so I could see what the commotion was about. Turns out, it was just a drug deal. Some white lady in a white car was buying drugs from some black kid on the street. On the block between Cactus and Hackberry, there were lots of people hanging out and several cars seemingly lined up to make buys, or perhaps they were all like me just wanting to drive by and get a glimpse of the place. Sure, that was it.As to calling code compliance, what about this house on Cactus, one of Rev. Perkins neighbors. Really, is this place any better? Oh wait, perhaps that is also art.

I'm starting to get the bigger picture here and I think it isn't about the outdoor display of art or sculptures or the fact that Rev Perkins has some sort of church going on. It really is no more difficult than what some of his neighbors complained about before, and that is all the prostitution and drug dealing taking place by his property. Unfortunately, I think his property may be unfairly targeted. Oh, I don't know for sure, if he is or isn't inadvertently promoting these things by being so open to the ho's and dealers that he is trying to save, but I do know that the problem extends beyond his property line.

I had lost all confidence in an attempt to either talk with Rev Perkins or perhaps stop and at least take some detailed pictures of his art. There were two reasons to be honest. First, I had not come equipped with a shotgun, and second, it was clear to me that as I made my first full trip down the street and back around the block to come to his house a second time, I suddenly looked no different than the other cars who circled the place looking to buy drugs or pick up a quick piece of ass.

Oh, and I shutter to even imagine who the incredibly desperate people are who would engage in anything that involved physical contact with some of the "ladies" along Nevada and Hackberry. Thankfully, my wife keeps a bottle of Purell in the van on the off chance that I may have caught something just breathing the same air. I know this sounds harsh, but please understand, these were some very unhealthy women in need of serious intervention and a good solid scrubbing. These are not the same women I saw the first time I drove by.

The other disturbing thing is, this was in broad daylight and there was nobody even the slightly bit paranoid that I was driving by - a stranger out of place. I could have been a cop or a mayor or a newspaper reporter, but it seemed more likely that I was just another person looking to buy drugs or the aforementioned STDs.
Just to be clear, none of what I saw was on Rev Perkins property or even directly in front of his house. You may notice in fact, that he has a sign on his porch that asks people to call 911 or 311 if they see anyone selling dope. No, these people were all along the street around this neighborhood.

It is not my intention to say that Perkins should be able to have such a disaster of a home, or at least, the visible to the public portion; clearly, this guy needs to get his act together in terms of getting the place cleaned up. But what I saw today was that there is a problem bigger than just Mr. Perkins and his yard gallery and ministry. He isn't the only person in that area who could benefit from a visit by a Ty Pennington.

What I did not see was any police attempting to scare off the people openly selling drugs. And bulldozing Mr. Perkins house won't solve that problem by a long shot.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Perkins Report: Update on Artist/Reverend/Code Violator

I recently posted pictures and a few words about the Reverend Seymour Perkins, a well known East Side artist here in San Antonio who has been facing problems with his neighbors and the city code compliance folks. The city plans to bulldoze his house...

But according to the order issued Friday by Judge John D. Gabriel Jr., the home cannot be destroyed until at least Jan. 4, when a hearing to discuss a longer restraining order is scheduled.

The Express-News has more on that.

So if time permits tomorrow, I may drive by just to see if the art has gotten any better or worse. As I mentioned before, there is something wrong here. Maybe some people from one of the historic societies could pull one of their quick legal maneuvers to have his house (or at least the foundation of his church) placed in the national registry or something.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Few Things You Should Know Report...

As we wind up Christmas and head full steam into the New Year I thought it might be nice to tie up a few loose ends from stories I have posted here recently.

First, you have to know about the wings!

You may recall a reader named Lea sent me her recipe for some sticky brown sugar and soy sauce based wings. I wrote about my effort to make them, per her directions, but I must confess that I strayed just a bit from what she e-mailed me.

Of course, they were good, but not nearly as good as they could have been. On top of that, I made a mess in the oven.

You will be happy to know that for Christmas, my good neighbors Gus and Ruby gave me a little oven guard kinda thing that you actually place on the bottom of the oven. Then, if you have an offensive mistake like I made, you can pull this cover out, wipe it off and the mess is gone.
Lea was kind enough to e-mail me with where I went wrong on her recipe. It turns out, I was supposed to marinate the wings in the glass pan and cook them in the same glass pan without emptying out the marinade. I tried this and two wonderful things happened. First, no spills in the oven.More importantly, the wings came out awesome, and I am quite certain that the Cowboys actually won their game as a result of my wings being so incredible. I'm sorry, Lea's wings!A few days ago, I reported about our little dog, Panda, going to live in New Jersey with my daughter and her husband. Good news: The dog made it to New Jersey without incident and she loves the snow. Better news: My daughter is very happy to have her little dogie and it made for a Merry Christmas. Best news: Panda no longer wakes me up at 4am to play.
And finally, this past week this blog went over 10,000 hits. I know for many of the blogs I read, this is chump change. They get 10,000 hits in a day or a week or at least a month. But for a guy just telling goofy stories about places my wife and I go to eat or posting pictures of goofy things I see in my town, it is a true sign that either you people like what you see and read, or you are simply bored silly. Either way, I appreciate it and hope you will continue to stop by.

River Walk Construction Update

Just a few happy snaps to give you an idea of where you may spend future Christmas's strolling along the newest part of our beautiful River Walk in downtown San Antonio.I took these on Christmas Eve and apparently, all the work crews were off.
Things are progressing and you can see lots more bricks stacked up ready to become part of the walk.

About Your Host

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San Antonio, TX, United States
I love to observe the odd things happening around me as I go about my day. I especially like it when I can get a picture of people being themselves. Here, I attempt to report the various people and events I have encountered in my neighborhood, and my city. I'd also love to hear from you. Feel free to e-mail your experiences and photos of life in San Antonio.

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