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Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Real Story of Bob Squarepants

This is somewhat of a departure from the theme of Silver Creek and San Antonio, because this story takes place in California, but I am prompted to tell it because of some recent medications I have started taking. The doctor gave me a warning and so did the pharmacist; some users may experience irritable bowls and diahrreah when first beginning to use this medication. Though thankfully, I have not had this problem, all this talk of bodily functions and such reminded me of the time I crapped my pants at a cookout.

Okay, I was 3 years old, but to me this was a significant moment.

We lived in
Sacramento, CA at the time as my dad was stationed at McClellan AFB. I don’t recall the specific date or reason for the event (I guess it would be a bit much to ask a 3-year-old to carry a day-runner), but we were at what I believe was a base recreation facility.

This may come as a shock to you, but I come from parents who enjoy a slug or two of the Happy Sauce occasionally, and this event was no different. As my parents enjoyed the company of friends in lawn chairs around the grill, my siblings and I were off to explore the recreation area and keep ourselves out of trouble. Before you freak out and call the Child Protective Services, keep in mind that I am 43 and back in my day, we didn’t hover over kids for fear that some pervert would snatch them and take them to England to be brought into the Kabala Cult by Madonna. So, it was no big deal that I just wandered around and enjoyed the sights. Until I had to take a massive dump.

Not to worry, I knew exactly where the portable toilets were set up and I quickly made my way there. What I did not know was that apparently, 40 other people had to take a dump just like me.

So, I’m standing in line patiently waiting my turn for a quick moment in the potty where I can conduct an urgent #2. I wait, and wait, and wait. And even though the lines to the two porta-potties serving the crowd of at least 500 people is moving, it simply isn’t moving fast enough.

I won’t go on and on about every emotion I felt and every muscle I flexed and clinched in an effort to lock down the sphincter; lets just suffice it to say, I was a little kid who was several people away from being next, and I was already formulating my plan for when the inevitable happened. When I would surely shit my pants in front of a crowd of people.

I honestly thought I had made it. Luckily, a group of three or four drunken Airmen were in ahead of the line, and not a single one of them were shy-pissers. In other words, once they got their shot in the barrel, they let loose like it was a random urinalysis and the observer was a hot chick wanting to see wieners. If you have ever been in the military, you can appreciate that that will never be the case.

Sadly though, the lady directly behind them and in front of me who weighed about 240 clearly had a huge transaction to make.
I’m not quite sure why we equate fat people with taking huge dumps. I mean, if they crap so much, wouldn’t they be thin? But I digress.

So this lady is in the port-a-let in the heat of the day (I’ll let you use your own imagination as to how this little area smelled with all the traffic) and I’m starting to think that they had a mirror and free make-up samples in there, because she is taking a long time. At this point, if I were my age now, I would have the nerve to simply announce to the crowd that if someone did not vacate the toilet, I was going to physically spray shit all over anyone within a ten foot perimeter of my 3 year old ass. But, as a 3 year old, I didn’t have any idea that those tactics could work.

So, just as the large crapping/make-up applying lady exited the john and held the door for me, I shit my pants. It felt warm and frankly, it felt good. Anyway, this lady says, “Here you go, hun, you’re next.” Having just shit myself, I politely said, “No thanks”, and turned to walk away in search of my parents.

The rest of this story is not important and only involves me having to whisper into my mom’s ear that I pooped my pants and having her loudly question for all the drunken adults around us, “You pooped your pants?” Following a long ride home, sitting on my knees and facing the back of the station wagon (so as not to further smash the poop into my underwear and pants), my mom cleaned me like a newborn and we returned (to my humiliation) to the party in fresh clothes.

The disguise did not work and thus, all the liquored up parents and most of the teenage hooligans proclaimed me as the goofy little kid who crapped his pants.
But, this is not even relevant to the story about Bob Squarepants.

Please do not be confused by Sponge Bob Square Pants. That is a different guy. He is a cartoon and lives in a pineapple under the sea. He is a sponge, according to my kids.

No, good ol’ Bob Squarepants was a kid in my class in the 2nd grade. You see, one day, we are all sitting there doing whatever 2nd graders do – you know, it is the toughest grade – and we were intently watching the teacher scribble crap across the chalkboard. Maybe I shouldn’t use the term “crap” just yet, as surely it will come into play very shortly.

So, I’m sitting there and this little girl raises her hand and the teacher calls on her.
Okay, You’ll have to use your imagination for this one because I simply don’t have the colorful vocabulary to accurately describe how funny I see this in my mind even today.

The little girl said, “Teacher, somebody smells.” As she said this, she discretely used her elbow to motion towards Bob, the little kid in the seat in front of her. Oh, and after her report of the toxic situation, she quietly placed the thumb and finger against her nose and then put her head down on her desk. Little drama queen, even in the 2nd grade.

Now by today’s standards, you’d think that all of the kids in the class would start laughing and hooting and jumping out of their seats. This was not the case back in my day when teachers ruled the classroom. Instead, we were all curiously concerned as to what could possibly smell; after all, we knew that Bob was potty trained, as were the rest of us.

Anyway, very quietly, Mrs. Forrester walked over to Bob and took him by the hand and escorted him into the hall. All of us kids looked at each other, shrugging shoulders wondering if Bob was in trouble or was ill or whatever might be wrong.
Strangely, not long after she left with Bob, Mrs. Forrester returned and opened the windows to the class. This was sort of odd since it was wintertime and the heaters along the wall were actually on. I’m not the brightest bulb in the bunch, but I pretty much figured out that Bob had shit himself.

So, anyway, this is like 2 in the afternoon and school is out at 3. Bob never did come back to the class but we didn’t think much of it. We get out and we are all standing out by the bus loading area and kids are filing onto their buses and other kids are walking home (the ones, like me, who lived close to school) and I started playing marbles with this fat kid named Richard, who used to always wait until the very last minute to get on the bus.

It seemed that, unlike today where most of the kids are fat, back then, the one or two portly kids got picked on, so the longer he waited to get on the bus, the less likely he was to be made sport of by the old kids.
So, to Richard’s delight, the bus was waiting and waiting and waiting, and it occurred to me that that kid who crapped his pants, Bob, had not gotten on the bus yet. So, we just played
marbles and the bus waited.

About 5 minutes after the bus should have departed the school (and long after I should have been on my way home), we witnessed the most incredible sight a grade school child could see.

Let me set the stage for those of you born after 1975. We didn’t keep a spare set of clothes at school for such an event as a second grader shitting himself in the middle of class.

Okay, that pretty much sets the stage.

Here comes the principal Mrs. Weasner, by all accounts a hottie (at least according to that old janitor with lots of tattoos who smoked cigarettes), holding the hand of Bob. Bob it seems shat himself to such a level of disarray, that his soiled slacks, and I can only surmise Fruit of the Looms, could not be cleaned sufficiently for him to wear or even accompany home on a public school bus.

So your first thought might be that Mrs. Weasner had him parading before our stunned class nekkid as a jaybird (Ray Stevens – no less), but no, our head administrator has fashioned a brown paper shopping bag into a pair of shorts for good ol’ Bob.

Please understand; back in our day, we took tennis shoes along with our gym shorts and shirt for PE. So the norm was for little boys and little girls to wear what we referred to as “street shoes”. You can equate these to “dress shoes” by today’s standards. So here is Bob Squarepants wearing his button down shirt, his $12 loafers and a grocery bag stapled at the sides so it would not fall down. The crazy thing was, the bottom of the paper bag remained perfectly straight as if it was full of 16 boxes of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. I mean, this kid was wearing square pants.

Mrs. Weasner had actually cut holes in the bottom of a paperbag and put this kid in them to insure a bit of decency as he rode home on the bus to explain to his parents why he was san pants.

Now since I didn’t ride the bus, I wasn’t able to first hand observe what I assumed would be a spectacle of finger pointing and ridicule. But the next day, I asked Richard about it and he said that even the 6th graders rode home in stunned silence, not a single kid asking Bob where his regular clothes were.

So naturally, I was the kid who started calling Bob, “Bob Squarepants”.

I have no animosity towards the guy who came up with the cartoon Sponge Bob Square Pants, but I’m guessing he was related to the kid who shit himself in the 2nd grade.

Gas got you down?

I don't want to hear it. I just filled up last night and nearly crapped my pants when the pump stopped at $74.00.

Then again, it beats walking to work.

Silver Creek Pile-up...

Okay, not really a pile-up (I do tend to exaggerate things), but it sure kept the main entrance into Silver Creek blocked for a few hours.

I have no idea what happened, but one vehicle ended up sort of resting on the side walk near a bust stop. I surely hope nobody was hit.

Anyway, when we first left our house to hit HEB, Walgreens, & Payless, one of our Security Guys was directing traffic through the intersection.

When we came back an hour later, (from the other direction) the truck was still there. And when my wife went to her Mom's house around 9PM, the truck was still there! Hopefully when I leave for work in a few minutes, it will be gone.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More of the Creepy Spurs Fan...

It isn't even over yet (well, 55-39 at the half) and the Drunk Spurs Guy is giving off his trademark Peace Sign as the two announcers try to discuss the game.

WTF! Next we'll embarrass ourselves nationally with some Mariachis out on the court during the second-half tip-off.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

This weekend flew by...

It felt like I got off work on Friday afternoon, took a nap and find myself checking e-mail Tuesday morning. What a whirlwind weekend. A few highlights:
  • Spurs lost in Utah
  • Spurs won in Utah
    • Utah Fans threw trash at Spurs players
  • Cooked some barracho beans, some shrimp, some sausage, some chicken, some ribs
    • Gained a pound
  • Took my son to go look at a new vehicle
    • He really wanted this truck
    • He will appreciate the mileage and lower car payments of this car

  • Did some shopping at HEB
  • Did some painting around the house
  • Did some electrical work
  • Ignored the Jehova's who rang the doorbell
  • Had a salad and some chili to-go
  • Sold my Son's truck on Craig's List
  • Took $203.00 worth of parts my wife found sitting in the garage back to O'Reilly
    • I guess I hadn't replaced the brakes on my son's truck afterall

  • Let dogs sleep
  • Got up for work and checked e-mail
  • How was your weekend?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

C'Mon Sister!

So we had to whip into HEB in order to grab some much needed fruit, yogurt, shrimp and other standard necessities, when I saw the craziest thing.

I must tell you that I detest people who can't take the time to place their shopping cart in one of the handy cart corrals. I have a whole list of other things that upset me, but I'll make a spreadsheet sometime and share it with you.

So, imagine my shock when I see a fully uniformed Sister of the Catholic faith leaving her cart right there in front of HEB without even pretending to look for a better place to shove it. I said to my wife that the Sister's behavior surely warranted a few Hail Marys and I have to report, my wife was not pleased with my making sport of the situation; she said I'm going straight to Hell.

Hey, if these people can smack your knuckles with a ruler for giggling in class, I'd say they can gitty-up and put the cart in the corral.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Like hitting a jackpot...

You just don't know what terrible luck I have when it comes to picking lanes, whether it be as I drive down the road, the register at HEB or most common of my nightmare selections; the drive-Thru teller at the bank. So this morning, it was like hitting the jackpot when I pulled into an overly crowded Security Service Credit Union full of people eager to do a months' worth of banking, and found a lane with one guy deceptively looking like a maintenance guy.

Though I had already aimed my vehicle toward another line, I quickly made a sharp turn and pointed the nose of the van in behind this single truck. As you can see from my award-winning photography skills, the guy in the truck had not yet left his position at the little pedestal which houses the deposit slips. I think this and the ladders on his truck made other would-be lane choosers avoid this one.

I have to admit, when a minute turned into two and the guy had not yet moved forward to the official transaction position, I was starting to have second thoughts about my choice. But finally, he had done all the cyphering necessary to conduct his business and pulled forward.

Interestingly, my winning ways seemed to infuriate the second guy in line in the next lane over. I could see the poor guy pounding his steering wheel when I pulled up directly beside him. And it only got worse when I advanced to the actual transaction position before the guy I should have been behind.

As I calmly, and quite happily waited for the deposit receipt to come from the pneumatic tube to my left, I caught a glimpse of the frustrated bank customer shaking his head at the injustice.

Oh, and he picked his nose too.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A Cygnet Named Baby

Sid Seidenberger, our Mission Trace correspondent, enjoyed the pictures of my funny dogs Gracie & Panda and told me about an interesting pet he has adopted, named Baby. He referred to Baby as a Cygnet, and not being familiar with that particular nomenclature, I must confess that I had to do some quick Google action to find out just what sort of critter he had. I’ll spare you the details of my research, but if you find yourself in a Discovery Channel state of mind, you might start here.

Before I get to Baby though, I think it is fascinating how the small neighborhood of Mission Trace, like other older gated communities, seem to carve out a sanctuary of sorts for their residents, when just on the other side of the fence is all the hustle and bustle of a fast-paced and continuously growing and congested environment.

Like many of my fellow Silver Creek and Great Northwest neighbors who drive up Culebra Road every afternoon, I often wonder if all the traffic is worth it. So as I drove down Wurzbach and on Vance Jackson at the height of rush hour to get to Mission Trace, I had similar thoughts about the sense of living in such a congested area.

Those questions ceased as soon as the guard lifted the entry gate into Mission Trace. Surrounded by trees and walls that make the traffic on Vance Jackson disappear behind you, the small tree-lined lake to the right immediately catches your attention. The only distraction to the lake was a well-placed sign emphasizing the need to be cautious for the swans. As I drove in, I saw a duck casually sitting on a bench as though he was waiting for a bus or something.

The point is that just as I find the comfort of my home and my neighborhood to be worth the short drive up Culebra, I suspect the residents of Mission Trace soon forget about the bumper-to-bumper traffic navigated through to arrive in their little piece of heaven. And I’m willing to bet that wherever Baby’s parents came from to land in the small body of water in Mission Trace, they felt the flight was worth it. And that’s where Baby’s story begins.

I spoke with Sid and his friend Al, also a resident of Mission Trace, and they told me how the parents, Australian Black Swans had a small nest of babies, or cygnets as the young swans are called. The enemies of these young cygnets are turtles and hawks, both prevalent around the lake, and soon it became clear to residents of the area that the little babies would not survive.

Fearing for their safety, the property manager for the local HOA removed the cygnets from the predators around the lake when the Cop and Pen (the parents) could not protect them. Unfortunately, Baby’s two siblings did not survive.

Fast forward to a month or so ago and a now much larger but still immature Baby as she was named by the manager, was released to learn to live and enjoy the same peaceful solitude of the lake that human inhabitants of the area enjoy. But, Mother Nature, the prankster she can often be, gives the Australian Black Swan an apparent short memory. And without the standard baby-swan passport photo or the equivalent of those school year books that show your child growing from a toddler to an adult in 12 short years of public school, these poor swans had no idea who Baby was.

Worse, because some swans don’t feel at all icky about incest, and apparently others do, the parents took this new strange cygnet as a threat to the marriage. Sid reports that in one fowl exchange (sorry), Papa Swan “bit Baby's tail and shook her whole body like an old kitchen rug being shaken free of dust on the back porch. It scared the hell out of Baby...and me.”

So now, Baby has to be caged at night (conveniently beneath the picture window of Sid’s home, overlooking the lake), and she has to have water tubs from which to drink and slosh around in. Lettuce and seed come hand delivered at this point but I suspect she will learn to scrounge around the lake for vittles before too long.

What surprised me the most about meeting Baby was that she has taken to Sid’s voice and presence. When I asked if we could get close enough for a few happy-snaps, Sid simply wandered outside, called for her and picked her up as though she was a little puppy. When Al and I approached to get a better look, Baby tucked her beak in-between Sid’s protective arm and chest, though she looked up occasionally to see if we were still gawking at her. After a few nervous moments of introductions, Sid let Baby down and she wandered down toward the lake.

In addition to her estranged parents watching from a distance on the other side of the small lake, there was an egret not far from us contemplating his next move as occasional sprinkles of rain approached. Baby seemed fine dipping her feet into the water as long as we stood by, but I suspect she knew as well as Sid that once we retreated back to the house, the aggressive parents would not be nearly as standoffish.
Later, from the incredible view indoors looking out, Baby fled the pleasant water of the lake with her Springer-like parents in hot pursuit. Sid has a sense of Baby’s speed and was confident though visibly nervous about her ability to make it to the safety of her cage. Once on land and headed toward the house, the parents ceased the chase of the last of their offspring, with no idea on earth that only a season earlier, they had hatched the little cygnet.

In a few more months, Baby ought to make a pretty good centerpiece come Thanksgiving time. And with that, we were hopeful that Baby would survive this season, and the next.

Note: Thanks to Photographer Al for additional photos of Baby and her parents.

Let me just cut to the chase...

Oprah is not allowed in my house. Yes, yes, I understand that as the most powerful woman in the world, she could probably buy me off or pay somebody to force all of my TVs to play the Oprah Show all day on every channel, but assuming she leaves it my decision (and my wife goes along with it), I forbid Oprah from being here.

So, since I don't watch Entertainment Tonight either, I had not seen Oprah in quite sometime. Lo and behold, it turns out that she has her own magazine, and on top of that, she has infiltrated the Lowe's Home store off of 151 and 410. WTF!? Sweet sister of Frances in cut-offs and heels; now this lady has invaded the domain of all that is manliness.

So I am standing there in line purchasing some paint for my wife to get busy with this weekend, and staring me in the face at eye-level is Oprah, and she looks like a semi-slim caricature of herself. And, quite frankly, she looks a little like a hyena.

I have to wonder if this is a lot of air-brush action gone wrong, or does she really look like this when Stedman nudges her out of the bed each morning. Egad!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Creepy Spurs Fan...

Am I the only person who thinks that this guy has had a tad bit too much consumption of spirits during the course of EVERY FREAKIN' Spurs Game televised?

He is the rainbow wig wearing, John 3:16 dude of the San Antonio Spurs, and apparently, he is why we win!

I nominate this guy for one of those Budweiser, "Real Men of Genius" commercials.

We salute you, Mr. Liquored Up Peace Sign Spurs Fan!

Silver Creek: Serving Proudly

Just by driving through Silver Creek, you recognize from the reflective decals and assortment of bumper stickers that we have a rather well represented community of active duty and retired military families, and the proud parents of the next generation of people who serve in the greatest military the world has ever known. Today, my family entered the third generation of service to the U.S. Air Force as we attended the graduation ceremony of our daughter.

Thursday, we observed a special retreat ceremony and I found myself a bit choked up watching my daughter and her fellow airmen belt out the Air Force Song. And during today’s ceremony, the pass in review, it was a proud moment to see my daughter and her flight do the “eyes right” just as I did 25 years ago and quite probably on the same parade field that my father did 60 years ago.

Following the graduation ceremony, we accompanied our new Airman 1st Class to her dorm to see where she had spent the last six weeks and to meet her Military Training Instructor. You cannot help being impressed by the sharp and extremely professional people who take, for the most part, obnoxious teenagers (even the one’s who are already parents themselves in some cases) and turn them into respectful, eager and newly motivated warriors. I like to think that my own daughter was pretty sharp and mature for her almost 19 years, but seeing her now was nothing short of impressive.
Silver Creek usually has a yearly ceremony to honor veterans and POW’s and I’m very pleased as a resident and a veteran myself, that the community I live in makes this a priority among the many other important activities they sponsor.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Stupid Pet Tricks*: Bubbles

Some people like to take thier dogs to the park, throw balls or play fetch. Our dogs don't like to go outside that much, so we have to keep them entertained in an air conditioned environment.

Gracie can jump pretty high when it comes to bubbles. Panda, not so much.

Attention PETA: No pets were harmed in the making of this Blog entry.

*With Apologies to David Letterman

Supper Report: KFC

I don’t enjoy fast food, especially eating it at the fast food restaurant where the employees, who have probably placed boogers or worse in your unhealthy food, can sit there and watch you eat it. But, I must confess that since I had not taken my bride out for a proper Mother’s day dinner, it was only fair that we drop a few dollars for some of the new, more healthy, zero-trans-fat KFC. I can literally feel myself getting healthier as I write this.

I am happy to tell you that our food was hot, fresh, and not greasy at all, there were no signs of the aforementioned nasal elimination and in fact, having not eaten at the Colonel’s in some time, I was more than pleased. A bit pricey if you must know the truth, but only the best for my wife. Especially since she got paid today.

As we walked from table to table looking for a reasonably clean booth to sit at, I recognized a family from down the street. The father and I gave that knowing nod to one another that says, “We’ve never met, but we have nodded at one another before.” Everyone in Silver Creek is so friendly.

My wife had collected some napkins and Sporks, (actually, they no longer have Sporks – now they have actual plastic forks and plastic knives, but no spoons for some reason) and we gave our table a quick wipe-down while we waited for our number to be called.

The service was very quick and in no time at all, I was wolfing down some Original Recipe (minus the trans-fat of course), and life was good. The baked beans were steaming hot and had a unique but excellent taste to them and though nobody’s green beans can compare to Bill Miller’s, these were suitable enough to warrant a “Tasty Treat” from me, though not a fully enthusiastic one.

I try not to pay attention to what other people around me do while they enjoy their meals. I mean, if a person insists on talking on the cell phone, as long as they don’t talk with a fake British/Aussie accent, I’m cool with it. So, this weird guy walks into the KFC carrying a boom box with it turned on for all to hear. A boom box! WTF? Is this the 80’s? I mean; did this guy not get the memo? Hello? Can you say iPod?

So my wife has never met a stranger and she will talk to anyone even without formally being introduced. So naturally, she looked over at the “Boom Box Guy” whom it turns out has sat himself down directly behind this family from down the street, and she say’s loud enough for everyone in the place to take notice, “You have got to be shitting me!” Thank God we weren’t at some fancy place like the Magnolia Pancake Haus.

So as it turns out, Boom Box Guy got the hint and cranked down the volume just enough so as to be no more distracting than MuZak, and we finished our dinner to the fading in and out of some radio station that couldn’t seem to tune in all the way. Good times.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Silver Creek in the Morning...

I have pretty vague memories of spending time at the home of my Great-Grandparents in Tampa during 1970 or 71. My dad was in Vietnam and had moved us back to be close to my mom’s family in Florida, and I think my mom was happy to have the help by letting a few of us kids spend the night over on Otis Ave from time to time. I was only in maybe the first or second grade but the things I remember most involved the sounds of the neighborhood and the wildlife.

Besides the normal assortment of birds, there were some squirrels that would come up onto the front porch and take peanuts from my great grandfather or if he wasn’t out, they would jimmy open a drawer on the porch where the peanuts were kept.

In the mornings, I can recall sitting out on the front porch and even though we were in a neighborhood of homes, if you shut your eyes, it seemed like you were out in the country. I suppose back then, there weren’t a lot of air conditioners kicking on or little Japanese vehicles with those goofy sounding mufflers to spoil the atmosphere.

I’m a firm believer that sounds and smells can take you back to a different place in time and for a few minutes anyway, this Sunday morning, I felt like I had been transported back to those mornings in Tampa.

Did I mention that my great grandmother wore a wig and at night she would take it off for bed and that really scared the bejesus out of me?

One of the huge selling points on our house was an upstairs balcony overlooking the front yard. But even though we moved here in late ’99, my wife and I had never bothered to go sit out there and read the paper while enjoying morning coffee.

I’m not sure what I expected, but I do know that when I get up in the middle of the night to walk out on the back deck and let the dogs sniff around for skunks, Mr. Possum and the occasional raccoon, I can hear traffic off in the distance; usually those obnoxious Japanese cars with the goofy mufflers, or perhaps the equally obnoxious sound of the rumbling exhaust on my son’s truck. But either way, the sound from the front of the house was totally different.

We sat on lawn chairs, equipped with the Sunday Express-News and fully charged cups of coffee and let the little dog come out to sniff around. I expected to see some traffic or maybe a lawn mower and weed eaters getting started up, but as I sat there reading a review of some important biography in the SA Life section, there was nothing but just a calm silence interrupted only by an occasional bird flying by, or a squirrel taking up a better position on a tree to see what we were doing on the balcony.

For just a brief moment, as I raised my eyes from focusing on the paper in my lap, I gazed up out into the trees of the front yard and I could imagine the calm morning air at the start of a beautiful Florida day. For a moment, I thought I could her my great grandfather working on some project in his shop behind the house.

Like some sort of suppressed memory it was as if I was hearing nails being bent after every few blows with the hammer and an extraordinary number of “Oh, Shits” coming from the back.

“Granddaddy, is that you?” I closed my eyes to take it all in.

And then I realized it was my next-door neighbor Eric, hammering on the fence in his backyard.

Oh well. I guess it’s the small things that make living in Silver Creek nice.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Breakfast Report: Rachel’s

When I first married my wife, there were a lot of cultural issues that had to be dealt with. First and foremost was understanding that ordering a taco was just like ordering a sandwich; you have to offer a little more of a description of what you want. Do you want ham & cheese, BLT, tuna fish?

When I came to San Antonio, when I thought of a taco, I thought of what you get at Taco Bell – a crisp shell filled with hamburger meat, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and cheese.

The first time I went to a Mexican restaurant with my wife, it was Tacos El Rey over on Castroville Road. We sat down and she asked me what I was going to order. What with it being a taco place, I figured it would be safe to order a few tacos. Then the real trouble started.

What kind of taco?” she queried.

A taco taco.” I informed her.

Yea, but what do you want on your taco?”

The usual stuff, I’ll take it all.”

By now she thought I had to be messing with her. Surely, nobody was this dense. “So what? Do like, bean & cheese, carne guisada, chicken fajita?” she asked.

No, you know, hamburger meat, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and cheese.”

I had a lot to learn about San Antonio and eating, and within the first three months of getting married, I had gained about 30 pounds attempting to learn everything!

So you can imagine that after 22 years, I’ve tried most everything and sorted out my favorites. I do love carne guisada with cheese and I enjoy a well-done chorizo and egg but I avoid Menudo having experienced the texture of tripas in my mouth. One weekend favorite is Barbacoa, and if you don’t already know, it is made up of the meat (and other things) found in cow head. The first time I had barbacoa, I just assumed that it was just the Spanish word for barbeque or BBQ, as in; some guy sitting out in has back yard with a case of beer looking at a huge slab of meat smoking on the grill for 8 hours. And I thought, that us white folks didn’t usually eat it for breakfast, but I’m a good sport, especially when it involves eating.

It wasn’t until after I had consumed at least three or four tacos covered with hot salsa and avocado that I would learn the difference between white people BBQ and barbacoa. My wife likes to tell people that I wanted to blow chunks when she confessed, but the truth is, my recollection was that I just shrugged my shoulders and asked what we were doing for lunch.

Okay, so keeping with the theme of taking the long way around the barn… This morning being Mother’s Day, we decided to take my mother-in-law some barbacoa. But barbacoa isn’t something you can get from just anywhere. For example, I love HEB but please, don’t ever even think about serving my mother-in-law their so-called barbacoa. She insists that they just take all the leftover meats and chicken and sausage that doesn’t sell on any given week then grind it all together and call it barbacoa. And the other thing you should know is that when you order barbacoa, you can get regular or all-meat. The regular costs less and is loaded with big chunks of gristle and fat, but tastes a whole lot better than the all-meat.

So we went out of our way to go by Rachel’s, one of our west side favorites for barbacoa. We hadn’t been there in a few years but I’m happy to report, the barbacoa was as good as ever. You will know you are at Rachel’s when you see the big mural painted on the side of the building. The lady standing in the field bringing food to the farm workers is Rachel I suppose, but you won’t find anyone resembling the painting inside. I’m going to guess the painting was from a time 30 or 40 years in the past.

You can always expect a line, especially on Sundays. But the staff has a system down so people go in, order their barbacoa, tamales, corn and flower tortillas, pick up an avocado and some salsa and are on their way. We were in and out in about 10 minutes.

And when we got to the mother-in-law’s, we were all pleased. I had three tacos and gave Rachel’s my Tasty Treat seal of approval, then promptly went into the living room to take a post-brunch power nap while the women folk yapped it up.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Feeling Down? You Should Talk to This Guy…

I have always enjoyed movies that most of the people I know consider to be flops. I find myself attracted to characters that have some weird personal issue of their own, but in trying to find or cure themselves, they end up helping others.

Everyone hated Lost in Translation with Bill Murray, but I could watch the karaoke scene, the absolute butchering of Bryan Ferry’sMore Than This” over and over again. And speaking of Bill Murray, the movie where he gets an anonymous note telling him that he is the father of a kid, so he goes out seeking old flames looking for the child. That was pretty out there, but I loved it.

So yesterday, my wife endured a movie I was eager to see called Mumford. This guy “plays” a psychologist in a small town called Mumford, and as it turns out, his name is Dr. Mumford. He has this way of listening to his patients and imparting small bits of wisdom that in the end, make these townsfolk feel much better. Apparently, this movie didn’t make it big because I saw it on Starz. That ought to tell you something.

So, again taking the long way around the barn… I had this on my mind when I encountered a man today who reminded me of one of these characters with the gift of gab, the ability to very quickly change a person’s perspective on life and perhaps change their entire outlook in a positive fashion.

I ran into the AutoZone on Grissom to grab some small little item (some Teflon tape if you must know - $1.49 in aisle 5, next to the JB Weld), and I got in line behind these two people who were very dirty, possibly drunk, and quite probably homeless.

But who am I to judge?

So, the toothless woman with extremely filthy toenails was saying something or other and her husband/vagabond/acquaintance was carrying on about what problems they were having and the man behind the counter just smiled and cheerfully rang up the few items they were there to purchase.

The lady then said something along the lines of “life just sucks” and with a chuckle that sounded like she was possibly coughing up a lung, she asked the man, “How are you doing?”

“Well,” he started off, “This has been the worst of 55 years in my life.”

The lady sort of recoiled not expecting such a blunt response. Naturally, I began to pay more attention.

“My car caught on fire, burnt the garage, and then burnt the house down. My wife wrecked her car then just a few days ago, I was driving and hit a little kid. The kid was riding in between the cars in the parking lot and when he came out in front of me, I hit ‘em before I could even hit my brakes. It all happened right over here.” As he pointed towards the HEB across the street. Then, he made a clap sound with his hands and used his right hand to motion how the kid just flew up into the air.

“If that wasn’t enough”, he continued. “I had just bought my daughter a 2006 Eclipse and somebody T-Boned her just yesterday.”

I’m pretty sure most of the people around me were starting to feel a little awkward and wondering what else could possibly befall this poor gentleman.

The dusty guy with the toothless wife paid whatever the bill was and said to the snake bitten AutoZone guy, “Well, Sir. You have our prayers for better times. You should go and spend some time with your wife at a time like this.”

“Hell no!” said the man behind the counter as he started to chuckle, “What I need is to get me a Sancha. You know anyone?”

And with that, he and the toothless lady laughed like a fat lady farted in church.

And I felt a little better too.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I’m cutting off the cable!

Several years ago I had a co-worker who had divorced his wife and found that he was suddenly living from paycheck to paycheck, what with child-support payments, the cost of living in an apartment and, oh yes, going out to see strippers pretty much every night. I guess in a way, it all adds up pretty quickly.

So I remember him telling me about the nightmare he was having dealing with the cable company. It seemed that he was late on his payment a few times and not only did they charge late fees, things started to get downright nasty if they had to send someone to the house to collect their equipment and/or payment. Usually, they would let you pay some huge fee and you could keep the cable going. But I asked the guy in all seriousness, “Why the hell do you have cable TV if you are busy spending all your money on strippers?”

He just said, “You have to have cable, you have to.” And, he ended up paying out some outrageous penalties and fees and reconnect taxes and such.

So, fast-forward to April 1st of this year when we decided to get rid of the cable company and switch to a different service. Because we don’t spend all of our money on strippers, it turns out that our cable bill was not only paid, but also actually overpaid. In fact, the cable company owes us $187.78.

The weird thing is, they haven’t sent anybody out to my house to say, offer me a check or some cash. In fact, the first “bill” that I got from them in mid-April showed that I owed them $70.25-. You’d think instead of sending a statement showing that they owed me money, they would have sent a check.

Instead of them calling me like they called my old co-worker to get the bill squared away, I had to call the cable company to point out that there was a slight error in their recent bill and in fact, they owed me more! Yep. A lot more.

I’ll spare you details of my over-friendly and over-pleasant phone conversation and just say that I finally had to go in person to one of the convenient cable service centers so I could ask them to compare the paper bill they sent me (the one for $70.25-) and what the computer showed for my account.

Sure enough, now I was at $187.78- and damn happy to be there. Only problem is, even though I was there and even though they had loads of cash, what with all those people showing up to make cash payments and late fees; I would still have to wait 4 to 6 weeks for my refund check. I was starting to think this was like one of those stupid mail-in rebates you get when you purchase something from Office Depot. (But don’t even get me started.)

So today, I come home from work and I see an envelope containing correspondence from the cable company and my first reaction is, “Whoo-hoo, let’s go to a strip club!”

Okay, I didn’t really say that.

Out loud.

No, really.

So I ask my wife if in fact the cable people have paid us and she smiles excitedly and says, “No, but they got the amount they owe us right.”

Sure enough, these people actually printed up another statement telling us that we owe $187.78- and the payment due date is 05/28/07.

In a way, I’m almost tempted to not say anything and see if we can avoid getting paid until after the 28th, just to see if they charge us a negative late fee.

I’m thinking $50.00- would come in pretty handy.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Lunch Report: Acadiana

I usually brown-bag it for lunch every day but today, I was persuaded by my co-workers to take a break from my leftover Roast Beast with carrots and potatoes in favor of getting out of the office for a drive in the open air of a convertible.

It seems that one colleagues’ son is out of town on business so he decided to drive his Mitsubishi to work, just for the fun of it. I wasn’t fully sold on the idea until another co-worker suggested we go to Acadiana. That was the ticket.

If you live in SA but haven’t tried Acadiana, you are surely missing out on a treat. I’m not a huge fan of Cajun dishes but I have never been disappointed with the regular fare. Lunch is about $6.25 for whatever their specials are, so with drink and a tip, you can get out easily for under $10.00.

I had the catfish, red beans & rice and green beans with a slab of corn bread. The iced tea was great and the service was spot on. One colleague had the full red beans & rice plate with a hunk of sausage and the other had the jambalaya with sausage. All three of us were happy with our selections. We didn’t order appetizers, but if you ever go, consider the fried pickles – they are quite the tasty treat.

Oh, as we were leaving, we got to see a group of military guys from the 149th Texas ANG come in for lunch. They were all in flight suits and one guy was extremely huge. I shouldn’t poke fun as I’m no slim Jim myself, but upon seeing him squeezed tightly into the “Bag” (as flight suits are often referred to in military jargon), I asked how the guys enjoyed their sausage.

I guess you had to be there.

Anyway, for our ride to Acadiana, I took the passenger seat and it was quite a hoot riding with my knees pressed against the dash. Okay, there was nothing funny about it. It was pretty uncomfortable. But I felt bad for my friend in the back seat. Even though he is not nearly as tall or fat, I was guessing that he had even less room.

So, after lunch I was pretending to play Mister Nice and offered to take the back seat for the trip back to work. My plan was that I would make him feel guilty since he is shorter and he would scoot the seat up really far, thereby allowing me a little more room for my legs. This worked fine and I was able to maneuver my way into the back seat and place my feet flatly on the floor, though admittedly with my knees shooting straight upward towards my chin. Good times!

But then, with the top down, we started driving and we weren’t even out of the Acadiana parking lot and on to Loop 410 before I realized what a real error in judgment I had made. The top of my head, and most importantly, my hair was elevated above the height of the car’s front windshield. If I were a model posing in “Fat Middle-Aged Guy” Magazine, this might be cool, but driving back to work at 70 MPH with the wind (and potentially a few flying insects) flowing through my well maintained hair, I was suddenly not having nearly as much fun as I did riding in the front seat.

At one point, I could see from the front mirror that my co-worker was talking to me. I would have attempted to read his lips, but through a mirror, it looked like he was talking backwards. And I sure as hell couldn’t hear anything he was saying, what with the buzz of dragonflies and wasps zooming past me.

At about the time we were pulling off of Loop 410 on to Medina Base Road, I took the opportunity to run my fingers through my hair as sort of an old-fashioned comb technique like my mom would do when I was 4 years old. But I suspect back then, my head was not completely numb like it was now. Thankfully we only had a few more miles to go and at much slower speeds.

When we arrived at the gate over on Security Hill, the driver needed to show his identification so we could get on to the base. This would not normally present a problem, but in such a small car, he was not able to reach his hand into his back pocket to retrieve his wallet. Just as the guard thoughtfully recognized the situation, I volunteered to present my ID which I had handy in my shirt pocket.

I should mention that the picture on my ID is less than a month old so, by everyone’s assessment, it should still look like me. But the guard looked at the picture, then looked at me, then looked at the picture again, then looked at me again. Just then, I caught a glimpse of my new, windswept “Afro” in the mirror and quickly patted it down enough to make me appear to be who I really was.

I’m thinking next time, I’ll drive.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

High Winds Swirling...

I don't want to get all technical like the National Weather Service, but I think we're in for a blustery day!

I got up to let the dogs out and noticed the trees in the back yard swooshing from side to side and felt an immediate gust of air blow into the little dog's face. She ran out into the year to investigate. The cover of my grill had actually lifted up like a parachute waiting for just another gust of wind to pull off the ground and lift the grill forward the same way you see an inexperienced jumper getting dragged across a landing zone. And of all things, my wife's wind mill hand blown completely over on the side. I suppose not staking it down so I could easily move it while mowing was a mistake.

With all the recent tornado activity in the mid-west, I suppose the wildly conflicting tunes of our eight different sets of wind chimes hanging from trees and hooks is a minor irritant that I can live with at 5 in the morning.

Of course, a huge gust of wind blew the back door wide open because Gracie forgot to shut it, and that caused Panda to freak out just a little. I'm sure the neighbor behind me appreciated the wake-up call.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Gracie & Panda

I guess it's like the movie stars all say...dogs and kids steal the show. I yammer on about San Antonio and our HOA, but I get lots of great e-mail about our dog Gracie. So it is only fair that Panda, Gracie's little sister should get a picture posted.

This picture shows "the girls" or "the big dog and little doggy" as we call them sitting patiently by the stairs waiting for me to lift the gate so they can run upstairs and look for a spot near the bed.

Anyway, you can see from the "before" picture why we think Grace looks so funny with her hair all shaved off. And she looks a lot smaller without the mop of hair.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Gracie Gets a new Hair Style

We took Gracie to a new hair stylist Friday and have been giggling at her new appearance since. We have been through a few different pet groomers and it has been hit or miss, but we were very pleased with how the folks at Kay's Kutz took our very shaggy dog and gave her quite a nice shave down. And the important thing is, she did not come back traumatized by the visit. We had a abad experience with a different groomer last year that left Gracie skiddish for quite some time.

If this doesn't make you giggle, I don't know what will!

Friday, May 4, 2007

HOA Election Update...

Sadly, my neighbor Eric was not among the winners of the board election for the Home Owners Association. He gives details of the "brutal" meeting over in his blog.

It ought to be interesting to see if this Guy D. Pucci character will settle his lawsuit with the HOA now that he is part of the leadership. That would be a first step in perhaps easing some of the distrust between the factions.

If you have any information worth reporting, e-mail me.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Part Two: More about Silver Creek 78250

When we first moved into our home in Silver Creek we got a visit from one of the community security officers. The house next door to us was vacant, but the owner had not yet put it on the market. He would come by weekly to mow the yard and check on things, and this time around, he found that someone had defaced the sidewalk.

At the time, both my kids were in middle school at Connally, and apparently, that was enough to trigger suspicion that my kids could be the culprits. I never did harbor any ill feelings toward the neighbor or security for jumping to such a conclusion; after all, we were new people moving in from “the barrio” where graffiti is as common as stray dogs. But make no mistake, graffiti is not something that I would ever take lightly, and my kids know it. And once the security officer and the neighbor next door had a chance to meet me and my family, they knew it was not related to us.

But that little incident left me with mixed emotions regarding the new ‘hood. First, some dumbass kids were out there writing graffiti on the sidewalks, which was very much part of the reason we moved. On the other hand, instead of me having to be the “lone ranger” dealing with it by confronting little hood rats on my own, there were security people on the job, which made me pretty happy. And as I posted earlier, the whole Home Owner Association and all the order and such that comes with it was a big factor in why we selected Silver Creek.

I recall seeing a story on the news years ago about how some guy had painted his house this bizarre shade of green – like chartreuse or something. The HOA took his ass to court and threatened to seize his property if he didn’t come to his senses and paint his house a normal color.

But “normal”, by whose standards? Yes, it is a double-edged sword, but I know what side I’m gonna be on if my neighbor up and paints his house in some psychedelic color pattern.

Another HOA tried to sue a lady who painted a US flag on her garage door. Hey, I’m as patriotic as the next guy and we fly both the US and Texas flags at our house, but your garage door needs to look like a garage door, not some wall mural in the center of the projects.

So anyway, I’ve taken a pretty long way around the barn, as John Wayne might say, to make it clear that I’m a big fan of the idea of an HOA. So you’d think that I would attend the monthly meetings or participate in some way. But I don’t. And other than sending a check every month and seeing the security patrol driving up and down my street several times a day and night, I am totally oblivious to what these people do with my money. As long as there are no chickens running in the neighbor’s yard, no psychodelic colored paint schemes and no graffiti on my sidewalk, I am one happy camper.

But apparently, not everyone else feels the same way I do.

The Great Northwest which is the bigger umbrella community of which Silver Creek is just one participating sub-division, has an “official” newspaper, an “official” web site, and, imagine this, a competing “unofficial” newspaper and “unofficial” web site. Further, it turns out that the board of directors of the HOA is made up of two factions who apparently have an ongoing feud like the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s.

So, I try to keep up on community events by reading the propaganda issued by both factions, and frankly, it is clear that we have a lot of cranky people involved, but other than one group is offended by the other group, I hadn’t found a whole lot of substance to what the complaints were.

That was until I read some of the materials printed by the “unofficial” faction. According to their own propaganda, this one guy, who I should note is a candidate for one of the board of director positions, has an ongoing lawsuit against the HOA. Okay, I’m not sure what my HOA did to piss this guy off, but I know now that not only is he suing them, he wants me to vote for him so he can replace them. And then what - drop his lawsuit?

It gets better.

And this is based on the literature provided by this guy’s own team. The man in question, one Guy D. Pucci, has already spent $60,000.00 on the lawsuit against the HOA that he wants to sit on the board of.


Let me get this right. This man has spent $60K of his own money in such a frivolous manner (my opinion), and now he wants me to trust him with my portion of the HOA assets? The hell you say.

Sir, if you have $60,000.00 lying around in an envelope under the mattress and you suddenly don’t like the people running the HOA, that kind of cash would make a good down payment on a house in a much better neighborhood than this one!

Good God, Mr. Pucci! Did you win the lottery and suddenly go nuts like all the other people who win huge prizes? What’s next; fully functioning quarter scale matching Lamborghini’s for the grandkids?

I am a guy who does a lot of things purely for the principal of it, but forgive me if my jaw drops in your general direction.

So, my next door neighbor, a very reasonable, smart thinking person recognizing that this little feud is going to carry on until some new blood can get involved to offer a change in point of view, has selflessly accepted the nomination of the people on our street to run for one of the board positions.

I hope he gets elected.

But if he does, I hope the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s don’t take it out on our street by purchasing $60,000.00 worth of spray paint and turning it into a graffiti covered gang zone.

I’ll let you know what happens. If you live in Silver Creek and would like to offer your point of view, or if you have an HOA story of your own, e-mail me.

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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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