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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Yard Work Report: How to Cover Dead Grass...

Forget the drought - we got an actual ten minutes of solid rain this afternoon. What we have is an area of the yard that simply refused to grow grass, no matter how much rain or watering we gave it, even after sodding the place. So this morning while my wife was doing some trimming of the hedges in the front of the house and I was mowing the back near the offensive dirt patch in the back, I decided enough was simply, enough!This is what the ugly, dirt covered, no grass having area looked like shortly after I started. You'll note that by the time I thought to grab the camera (always - always have the camera handy), I had started to place some rocks around the offensive area.I had to till up the old dead sod (dirt really) that was a little higher than it should have been, and push that dirt down toward the other side to try to level things.Next, we made a trip over to Wal-Mart to grab some mulch. I know that we could have gone to Fertile Gardens or one of the other local nurseries and gotten some mulch by the yard, but to be real honest, I didn't want to have to move several loads by wheel barrel to the back of the house when I could make a few sort trips with bags in the wagon.Here we are spreading out the mulch, and if you are keeping score - yes, I had to go back to Wal-Mart for another several bags. Here is a little hint from me to you: When the calculation chart says you need 14 bags of mulch to cover the area, you really do need 14 bags, not 8. That might save you a trip if you try this yourself.Okay, end product. We took some of the plants and such that we had on our deck and in the yard and filled in the mulched area. It ain't Garner State Park, but at least I won't have to mow the dirt anymore.

What did you do to your yard this weekend? Tell me about it.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Random Photo Report: Peeing in Harrods of London

I have an ongoing project of scanning in the hard copy photographs that fill boxes of photo albums throughout the house. This afternoon I found a box of pictures I took when my parents and grandparents visited me in England in about 1986 or 1987.This is a picture of my grandfather, Ralph Amorous Gower, taking a whiz in the restroom (the loo, if you will), in Harrods of London.

Good times.

The Pineapple Report...

Am I the only dumbass who had no idea that the pineapple grows on top of the plant and not under it?We were over at my sister-in-law's house tonight and they showed me their new pineapple plant. Doesn't it seem like it would be off balance once it gets bigger, and maybe topple over? I guess I should have paid more attention in 8th grade Future Farmers of America.

Strange in Brackenridge Park...

No, this isn't anything to do with perverts in the park, but rather an interesting mode of transportation we saw today.As we were leaving Augie's, we saw this family taking a little spin on what I assume to be an economical form of transport for a Saturday afternoon drive. The guy tells me his father brought it over from the Philippines. Maybe it was a taxi over there. Strange, but spiffy.

Lunch Report: Augies Barbed Wire Smoke House...

We finally got off our butts and made the short trip down to North St'Mary's and East Mulberry, so we could dig in to some outstanding "old school backyard BBQ". I guess when literally dozens of different people tell me I need to eat someplace, I should pay attention a lot sooner.Fair warning: Put on your eatin' pants and come hungry; you are in for a Tasty Treat! Augies Barbed Wire Smoke House is my new favorite place for BBQ.From the minute we pulled into the parking lot, we were already enjoying the atmosphere. I just like the look of the place mixed in between some office complexes and the Brackenridge Park area. You'd think it would stick out like a sore thumb, but really, it's a perfect fit for the area.From the minute we stepped inside, we were greeted by staff who made taking the order more of a friendly conversation than a visit to a restaurant. I'm usually pretty discrete about taking pictures of the places I eat - you never want someone to think you are collecting evidence for a finger in the chili type lawsuit, but the guy taking the order seemed pretty comfortable with our curiosity about Augies.He even suggested I snap a picture of the coveted 1st Place Trophy of the 2008 Final Four BBQ Cook Off. There's only one 1st Place.Augies is pretty small on the inside with limited seating - that is a drawback for visiting at about 1PM, because my wife wouldn't even consider sitting outside, but we did find a seat with a great view of Brackenridge.
I like a place with lots to look at and Augie's has it.

We were eager to try as much as we could and not have to be rolled out on a gurney, so we both got two meat, two side plates and got a bunch of different stuff to taste from.

My wife got the chicken and pulled pork, and for sides, mac 'n cheese and the honey baked beans. I recall once yammering on about how good the chicken at McBee's in Hondo was (and it is good), but if you like chicken at all, you will simply love Augie's. You do not require the sauce on this chicken, but it certainly won't ruin it if you use it.

Get ready, because the pulled pork is even better than the chicken. If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'; grits an't groceries, eggs ain't poultry, and Mona Lisa was a man! I'd take a bath in it. I don't think pulled pork is a regular menu item at most local BBQ places (or I guess I'm not used to seeing it), but friends, at least, at very minimum get the pulled pork. The honey baked beans were good and so was the mac 'n cheese - very cheesey and good.

I went with the brisket and sausage (regular, not jalapeno) and for sides I had the green beans and potato salad. First, potato salad is a mandatory side with any BBQ. This was good and creamy, and both my wife and I agreed that it was right up there with the best we have had. The green beans are my department (my wife is not a fan). I use the Bill Miller's recipe for green beans as my standard. I simply love them. Augies has gone above and beyond to serve up some well seasoned, excellently cooked green beans. And I appreciate that in any restaurant. I even got my wife to try them.

The sausage was standard, good quality and very tasty, but honestly, it has to be tough to be the sausage link when you share a plate with awesome brisket. I now get why everyone was telling us to try Augie's. A lot of folks are turned off by any fat whatsoever on the meat, and our server asked if I'd like to have all the fat removed. Not on your life! Call me unhealthy, but I love the taste. But thanks for asking. And thanks for the extra pickles and onions. Pure Heaven!

Okay, for those of you wanting to try it out - and I highly recommend it - you should know a few things. As mentioned earlier, the seating on a hot day could be an issue. Every year several days before Easter, people flock to Brackenridge Park and stake out picnic tables to make sure they can get one for their entire family. People have been known to put yellow crime scene tape up, chain ice chests to tables and do all sorts of things to save a table. Apparently, this is acceptable just across the street from Brackenridge Park, too.
Just as we sat down, a couple took over fully one fourth of the dining area by placing a purse on one table, a beer on another, a pair of glasses on another table, then the two sat at different tables to save enough seats for their party of about eight or ten, who in the end, didn't show up until we were done. In other words, the people holding all these tables hostage didn't even order their food (though they did have a beer) during the entire time we ate. I'm sorry, but that is a foul. Either everyone shows up at once, or you take one table and hope for the best.

The only other issue I had was that the iced tea does not come with free refills. Granted, I would probably go through a bucket by myself if it was free so they have to watch out for people like me, but still, c'mon.
The outdoor beer garden is probably a real hoot in the late afternoon and evenings. Even in the heat of the day, it wasn't really that bad - they have fans running and there are plenty of sunshades. They have a big screen and apparently on the weekends show movies or sports events.

Bottom line: If you even think you might like BBQ, you simply must go down to Augies Barbed Wire Smoke House. While you are there, why not slip by the newly remodled Japenese Tea Gardens, located right next door, or the Witte Museum just a block or two away.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Random Photo Report: The SecDef's Wife...

I have an ongoing project of scanning in the hard copy photographs that fill boxes of photo albums throughout the house. I'm almost done with scanning in the photos of my trip to Bosnia. I found this little moment, me posing with Janet Cohen, wife of, to save my life I can't recall his name... but he was the Secretary of Defense at the time.Anyway, I apologize for my hair and glasses, and by any understanding of USAF grooming standards, my BGen Robin Olds-like mustache.

Mrs. Cohen didn't mind though.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Paint Report: Seriously, I'm not a Painter...

Ask anyone who knows me or has witnessed the results of my handy work, and they will tell you with precise and accurate detail; I am not a painter.

But, for a good cause I'll dip the roller into a bucket of latex and cover a graffiti tagged wall like a fat guy slathering butter on a freshly boiled cob of sweet corn. Okay, that just described me eating lunch last weekend, but nevertheless the point is, I will gladly do some sloppy paint work when needed.

So on our last outing with the A-Team, you may recall that we joined up with some wonderful kids from Timberwilde Elementary to do some painting in the area, and a contractor stopped by and offered to donate some excess paint. He called Monday to follow-up and another A-Team member and I headed over to get the donated goods.

I may have mentioned before that we are able to obtain 5-gallon buckets of a mixed, recycled paint through the city of San Antonio, but in this case, the donated paint had to be mixed --- by me!
I told my wife I would have these cans out of my garage by the weekend, so I've been mixing away!You'd be shocked at the colors some people paint their houses. Orange and purple stand out in my mind as definite no-no's. But who knows? In the end, when it all gets mixed together, I'm shooting for a beige or grayish color just to cover graffiti.

Wanna help? You should join the A-Team. Learn more here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bakery Report: Panifico (or Bedoys) on 24th Street...

My wife was born and raised in San Antonio and has fond memories of the various establishments that, once part of her childhood, have faded away or in the case of Bedoys', have transitioned into something new.She reminded me of how her father would drive all the way from the Lackland area on Sunday's after church to Bedoy on the corner of 24th and Morales to grab all sorts of sweet bread for the family.

I'm not a huge fan of sweet bread (if I indulge, I'm more of the Dunkin Donut type), but I can understand the need.

We were in the area the other day for an important (you guessed it) eating engagement, when my wife suggested we pop in to the bakery.
These days, the place has new ownership and has modernized. The name is now Panifico. I think the format is very modern and well done. They have each customer pick up what I think is a pizza pan and a set of tongs, then go about collecting the various pastries from the cabinets. At the end, they ring you up and send your tray and tongs to the wash. Pretty modern!

Go on. You know you want some.

Downtown Report: War Memorial, Main Plaza, Gumby...

My wife had seen a news story on a small memorial created to commemorate the many fallen soldiers we have lost from Texas. It seems that some veterans have assembled this memorial and are showing it here before going to Austin with it. She wanted to zip down to Alamo Plaza to take a look, and I thought this might be a good day to do just that, and take a quick look at the new Main Plaza redevelopment project.I know for those who happen upon this site from other cities and states, you have seen the image of The Alamo, taken from an angle that takes advantage of our lack of any skyline behind it. This allows us to continue to sell post cards, and get a spiffy view when sporting events head into commercial breaks.But how many of you have ever wondered what the Alamo looks like from behind? This view is from Crockett and Bonham streets.How about inside the yard? I bet you had no idea the Texans had vending machines to keep them cool during the big battle.


Just outside the shrine in Alamo Plaza, we found the small memorial to the fallen soldiers of the current conflict.
Without saying it, my wife and I both looked for a picture of our young friend, Dane Balcon who was lost in Iraq. Although he attended high school here, because he transferred to Colorado to finish school, they did not list him. I'd like to say we didn't know of anyone on the memorial, but two other fallen had connections. A kid my son competed with in drill attended John Jay, and as it turned out, his mother attended Jay with my wife. They figured out the connection at the funeral of all places. Another young man had worked for my wife for a few years before he joind the military.It was nice to see a small tribute like this, but it would be nicer if the rest of the tiles could remain blank.


Having paid 10 bucks to park, we decided to walk over to Main Plaza rather than drive. It really isn't that far, but note to all people who walk in mid day: There are two sides to the street. One side will have full exposure to the sun, the other will be shaded. Stay on the shady side of the street.Anyway, I have been wanting to see this Main Plaza deal ever since they had the grand opening. Hello? What got opened that was so grand? The place looks fully under construction, only half or less of the pavers are in place and the landscaping is far from complete. Call me gullible, but they had the grand opening months ago; I just assumed that meant they were done working on it.Anyway, I guess it will be nice once it is more than open. There were already people sitting around on tables and chairs and there was a band of some sort getting ready to play. The public restroom aren't open yet but there was a kiosk selling ice cream.We did go into the air conditioned restrooms behind the gift shop next to San Fernando Cathedral which makes one side of the Main Plaza. It was nice to get out of the heat. A smelly homeless guy asked me for two dollars but sadly, I only had a debit card with me, and he didn't have any of those credit slips with him. Anyway, if I was homeless, I'd live in these restrooms.My wife took a picture inside the ladies restroom. It shows San Antonio is concerned about saving water. Flush up if you go number one. Flush downward if you go number two. What if you do both?Finally, on our way back from Main Plaza, we came upon the big sculpture given to San Antonio as a gift from Mexico. We like to call it Gumby. I didn't like it at first, but it grows on ya.

Did you venture out into the fireball today? Slather on some sunscreen and tell me about it.

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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