Thursday, December 31, 2020

Blog (entry) of all Blogs (length)

With forethought, I ask forgiveness.  This may be the longest written blog in my entire career -- and I use the "career" word with a obvious, small tongue-in-the-cheek.  I plan to work on this one for a while as the day wears down.  So much to do and say, and nothing of earth shaking importance.  You give up your time to read my missive.  I should give up my time to provide something of moral or educational context.  On the other hand, I have not done it much in the past, why should December 31st of 2020 be much different?

A while back, I started reading some guy's blog about who knows what.  It went on for page after page - "HE," delivering what he considered brilliance on his own chosen subject - "ME," giving my all to complete my self-assigned reading task with glazed-over eyes.   I gave it up.  Which brings me to question:  What is the purpose of this little bluggy O' mine?  That's right.  You got it.  No purpose except to write.


I am reading a series of books loaned to me by my #1 daughter Christine.  {We call her #1 because she was born first.}  The books are part of a fantasy series written by David Eddings and his lovely wife Leigh.  Never met them; but, she must be lovely.  Mustn't - Isn't she?  The 1st five books were The Belariad and the 2nd series of five is The Malloreon.   Fantasy - made  up world - sword play - magic - sorcery - lots of Kings and evil evil evil people.   In addition to these 10 books, he wrote separate books about Belgarath and another about Polgara, their autobiographies. Finally, a 13th book called the Rivan Codex.  I suggest you save this latter book for a time in your life when nothing else is important.  It is a rehash of everything. He does dip into his writing methods - a bit of ancient history - his scholarly background - some of his autobiography - and his research methods.  So as he explains, that gives him 13 books on this subject.  There you go.  Idle time is the Devil's workshop.


It rained yesterday - we got an inch and a half.  It started raining again last night (early morning).  The weatherman projected more water today.  So far, he is right.  Continual downpour.   My backyard, or as we call it after this amount of rain - Lake Metze - is swamped.  If I lived close to the water's edge, I would be fearful of being flooded out.  Luckily my house sets on a hill looking down upon the back yard.  Wear your boots if you plan to slide down the hill.

It is times like this with so much water - let's call it a rain event - I worry that my front yard will leak under my house, and we will all slide down the hill becoming a houseboat - albeit, a houseboat on the bottom of the lake.  Hey, it could happen.

When I arose this morning about  8:30, I looked out front at the rain gauge.  It was showing over three inches.  Next, a peek at the radar on the phone.  There is a column of water extending south of us for a few hundred miles, all leaking its way northeasterly (what a word) towards my back yard.  If indeed it continues as the weather guru says for the remainder of the day - Richland-Chambers lake will fill to the brim.   

Now, that is a sight.  When they open the gates up at the DARN  (I just can't write the other word, this is a family blog), when they open the gates, that is a sight watching the pillars of spilling flood.   Below the "Darn" is a swampy area which fills until the rains eventually filters into the Trinity river - a few miles east - down the way.

Even as I type at 10 a.m., the rain continues to pour upon our roof.  "Rain on my roof."   I see myself swamping out front to empty the rain gauge sometime in the near future as we near 5 inches.  We have rain events like this at times.  It rained over 14 inches a year ago at one time.   Another time the lake was down about 200 to 300 feet from the normal shoreline and the rains came.  It filled our lake to the brim in less than 24 hours.  That's a lot of water folks.  17 inches of rain as I remember it.    It would be nice if the rain god could figure this out and give us a sprinkle or two during July and August.


The house is quiet.  The wife meddles with her I phone stuff.   I sits here doing this.  The dogs have curled up in three different locations waiting - yes, waiting for the rain to stop.  Oscar cannot go outside and chase balls in the rain.  Actually, he could.  His ball thrower (me) won't slush forth.   Sadie finds it uncomfortable to wade out back even to bark at the squirrels.  Apparently, squirrels do have some brains and stay concealed during rain events.   Bruno, my big boy, is unconcerned either way.  Give him a cookie and a cushion to caress.  His massive bladder can fill to over-flowing, and he'll wait.  Rain.  "Why me?" he asked.


In the back yard over by the ancient wood pile lies a low area leading up to the "sea" wall  ("lake" wall if you are a purest).  This has filled with water in some places to over a foot high or more.  The water from the surrounding hill tops flow into Lake Metze caught momentarily by the piles of cut wood - a wall of wood hunks if you will.    We moved here in 2008.   Some trees were cut and stacked neatly.  They were never used.  Snakes, spiders, lizards, creatures of all kinds find refuge in that wood pile - now serving as a lake retention wall.   Lake Metze flourishes.


I took a break to go get naked in the bathroom.  Now there is a sight many of you might wish you had never envisioned.  It is much like the picture of the 500 lb guy on the beautiful, sunny beach wearing a bright red Speedo.  You simply can't forget some things you have seen.  With my refreshing early morning break completed, I walked out of the bathroom to a chorus of dogs barking - at me - standing by the back door.  In the sprinkle we went out and added fluid to the saturated grass.  Bruno, the most insistent, provided a bit of fertilizer to the lawn.  He is such a good boy...considerate, warm, appreciative, and very loud when it is poo time and NOBODY IS PAYING ATTENTION!!!


About 11  (that's a.m.), grabbing an umbrella I swam out front and emptied the rain gauge:   4 3/4"   And, the rains still come.  The 11 o'clock news shows snow out west - as much as 5 inches.  Sure, poor slobs in Michigan or New Hampshire or Canada or North Dakota - or wherever, they might make fun of 5 inches.  Down here, that is a major pile.  I pause now to say that our trash man has cometh.  The house is filled with the sound of screaming dogs.  

Boy, was I wrong.  It was two labs from down the street.  They have broken out of their invisible fence and are roaming the neighborhood.  They are nice dogs - big.  As far as I can tell, they do no wrong.  Perhaps they can kill a snake or two.  What's wrong with that?  The trash man is not here.  His barking festival awaits us.


Christmas has come and gone.  My entire immediate family came.  This house gets busy with ten people and eleven dogs.  Luckily the weather was fairly nice, and the dogs went outside during meals. I do have relatives who just might feed a dog from the table.  That would have created a swarming mob of dogs awaiting their share of turkey.  Didn't happen.  All of our dogs are pretty small.  Seven are dachshunds, 3 are pekingese or a close imitation, 1 basset, and one doxie/bigger dog mix.    The fellowship was fine.  The food was plentiful.  And, I got to sit in my own comfy chair a few times.  That's fine.  I was happy.

My children three and my wife have ganged up on me in the past about Christmas presents.  I was forbidden to give presents.  "Nobody is giving presents at Christmas."  It is too expensive.  No presents.  We have tried drawing names at Christmas.  No, not anymore.  So in defiance, I looked for little things to give to each - one year I gave fire extinguishers - another, was the year of automatic nightlights which worked when the power goes out.  I crafted a couple of years.

So what happens this year?  I gave no presents as ordered.  However, in turn each child gave me presents.  They were quite valuable / good / thoughtful / etc.  I must be getting old and guilt is taking root in their houses.  Next Christmas, do I follow my instructions?  Woe is me.  If it is up to my wife, we will give nothing and ignore Christmas all together.  It can be a trying time.


Instead of individual gifts, we have a tradition dating back to the 60s,  We have a grab-bag, as it is called locally.  Misc. gifts are loaded in a pile.  We draw numbers and select a present from the pile.  The next person can pick a present or steal from another person.  There are other rules.   Usually, there are enough presents in the pile to go several rounds, drawing a new number each round.   

This particular game was introduced to me at a teacher's Christmas party years ago.  At the time, we were having money problems - teachers are not rich.  So, I gathered many small things together and created a small pile.  There was a wrench, a hammer, a work light, misc. tools, candy, etc.  There was maybe one very small child in our family at the time (Christine).  We traveled to my parents house, and I introduced the rules to my 3 unmarried brothers and my parents.   It was well received.  I saved a bit of money.  I didn't have to select individual gifts for each person.  And, my father and brothers enjoyed stealing from each other.  A good time was had by all.

The game continued over the years as each brother married and brought children into the mix.  We never had major problems with the game - well, maybe when my oldest brother Marshall started stealing gifts to make his daughter Marion happy (not her idea by the way).  We've had gifts in the pile from a wilted bouquet of flowers up to unset jewels given by Marshall.  I can remember a grabbag a few years back at niece Sharla's house which had an enormous pile and 25 or more players.  It was nearly a riot.  Try it.  Start small.  Inexpensive gifts.  It will grow.


We had Christmas on Christmas Eve.  Christine had to travel home for work on Christmas day.  I smoked a big turkey and 6 extra turkey legs.  Roger works for United Foods in Lubbock and gets a free turkey each year.  It was big and good.  Thank you United Foods.  Leftovers remain in my freezer.  Naturally, we had all the extras: cranberry junk, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, mashed potatoes with turkey gravy, etc.  

Since I joined my wife's family in 1962, my family was introduced to Czech cuisine.  Her mother was a Macha (from the Kahanek clan)  and spoke no English until starting school.

You see Kolaches all the time in Texas.  Kolaches are rolls with fruit on / in them.  Today, many stores call anything a Kolache if it is cooked and has something in it.   Klubasniks (spelling wrong) are rolls with meat.  We rarely have Kolaches.  We have Klubasniks  here.  My mother-in-law would make yeast dough early in the morning then wrap the rolls around German sausage.  There would be piles of these on the table.  Since it was before my diabetes struck, I would eat half the pile if possible.  No sense sharing.

Now, my wife is making the meat rolls (solved my spelling problem).  #2 daughter Laura has even made a few recently.  They are sooooovery  good.   With MUSTARD of course.


Just dawned on me.  I have a smart phone (sometimes too smart).  "Look it up turkey-face."  

It is spelled klobasnek.  Definition from smart phone:   "A klobasnek is a chiefly American Czech savory finger food.  Klobasneks are similar in style to pigs in a blanket or sausage rolls.  But the meat is wrapped in kolache dough.  Unlike kolaches, which came to the U.S.A. with Czech immigrants, klobasneks were first made by Czechs who settled in Texas."   (Wikipedia)     

So there you go.  Klobasneks may be better than the grabbag (with MUSTARD).


It is time to stop.  I may return and talk more later.  May not.  Let me leave you with an email forward from my friend Jay:

y'all take care until next time




Thursday, December 17, 2020

Fun time in Metzeville

 The title is purposely misleading.  I warned you right up front though.  With all the happenings, there are few fun times on my back porch - or the front porch for that matter.  We go from day to day, and exist.  Is that what you are doing?  sorta sad, really.

I learned long long ago that if I make fun of myself, others have less leverage.    Follow this stone if you can.  I went to town on the 8th of December; that was Tuesday over a week ago.  It was time for my 6 month visit to the Dermatologist, who lovingly burned something red of the tip of my nose.  I might add here that he is Dr. Biltz.  His office and work rooms in his facility are covered with Texas Tech  memorabilia  - photos, etc.  I feel sorta close to anyone that likes Tech this much.  One of his staff told me (a while back) that they get together at Christmas and buy him Tech things as presents.        Good Staff.  Wise staff.

So, back to my stone, I went to town and visited the Dermatologist.  Next, I drove to our new storage space and unloaded a few more boxes.   On the way home, I stopped off at our HEB grocery store and bought just a few things.  Primarily I went in there for big bags of dog food.  We were running short, and eating is Bruno's favorite hobby.  You add bananas, tortillas, half gallon of milk and a few minor items, I was up to $70.23.

But, moving on.  Now get this visual concept.  My car is a Ford Flex - 3 row.  All back seats fold down - almost flat.  When I carry boxes to the shed, all seats fold flat, and I fill the back with boxes.  I fill to the ceiling.  Okay, that day was over.


On December 3rd - a Thursday - we (my spouse and I) went to town with a load of boxes - ate at CiCi's Pizza, bought gas, ended up at HEB.  Let's see now, that was the third.  Today is the 17th.  We have carried stuff in the back of the Flex on 3 separate occasions to the storage shed since the trip to HEB on the 3rd: my trip, another "us" trip, and a trip for the wife's haircut on another.  Stuff was in the back of the car on each trip.


Moving on.  Today, to town we went.  No eat out -- just a stop over at post office and on to HEB.  We will be having company over the next 2 weeks, and this was our grocery run to stock up.  We did.  We certainly stocked up.   Yes.   To the tune of $307.89, we stocked up.  Grocery prices have been soaring since that persistent bug came to Texas.  Mission accomplished, we drove home after a short stop over at What-a-burger.  I was hungry.  I get hungry.   Bruno and I both like the eating hobby.   Two big burgers for under $10.  I remember when we could buy burgers 5 for a $1.  They were terrible, but cheap.

Now we are home.  Unloaded the back of the car.  It took 4 trips each to move the supply inside.  On a whim, as I made my last journey to the car, I decided to look in the middle seat area to see if any food had wormed its way to the front.  The back had been packed so full with those flimsy plastic bags.  To my surprise on the floor of the middle seats - between the two captain chairs - was a two lb. plastic package of hamburger.  We buy the two pounders and divide them before they go into the freezer.  Here was a 2 lb package of hamburger (96/4 blend).  Would you call that luck finding the burger meat?  It would certainly seem to be.

It wasn't.  Nope.  I had a long talk with myself and the spouse.  We have not bought any hamburger since December 3rd.  That package of raw meat had set on the floor of the car for 3 additional trips to the storage shed.  It didn't smell. It didn't leak.  It just set there waiting to find us.

Here is the question.  Since it has been fairly cool lately - even freezing some nights - and the car has been left out side - the temperature has never been over, let's say, 60 degrees in the past two weeks.  Would you eat that hamburger?  Or would you divide it and let your dogs devour it - and yes it would be gone in less than 15 seconds - what would you do?  It's best to think these things out before they happen to you.  You never know, Charley.

We didn't open the package.  Who wants to smell rotten meat?  That is a smell that should be left anywhere else.  And we did.  The trash man cometh tomorrow morning.   He can open the package if he wishes.  good luck with that Ferdinand.


Speaking of the trash men.  I have been emptying the garage.  While gobs of stuff have made the trash pile, most items were boxed and sent to the storage shed to be researched later.  Garage Sales in the countryside are less than satisfying.  In the garage I had 2 dead computer monitors, 3 dead printers, a couple of destroyed computers, plus one big box of old computer and VCR stuff.   I put it out last Friday; and, it is gone.  They are such good people.  My wife is happy.  When the wife is happy, everybody is happy.

My Ford Flex has spent the last 2 nights encased in the garage (guarding the 2 lbs of burger).  I assume the Flex is happy.  The Marauder is still outside and will not start.  I think it's mad.


Let's stop now before I insult someone.

Y'all take.  Look forward to the Holidays.   They only come once a year.


Sunday, December 13, 2020

Sunday Morning - obit

 'Tis Sunday morning

With nothing to do

Stuck at home

It makes me blue.

.And with that touch of fine poetry, I shall continue.


As explained earlier, I am cleaning out the garage.  I have moved enough into town to almost, not quite, fill a 10 x 15 storage space.  Now the question we should all ask:  Do I have enough valuables in the space to warrant spending that much money on a storage space for stuff?  Sure, there are photos and gadgets and trash all around.  My books fill many a space.  I have 18 (smaller) boxes filled with old National Geographic Magazines.  I quit subscribing a few years back when it became obvious that N.G. was trying to move social issues forward.  I'm frankly a bit tired of people telling me that letting a 5 year old child choose his  (I must say "or her" for political correctness  "his/her")  own sexual identity is required of all wonder parents.  Yet. n.g. does that.

But, that is off my subject.  Storage of items is somewhat necessary when one cannot find the ability to secure a trash can.  

My thought is, we need to move to be closer to at least one of our permanent children.  Since we have an aversion to the cold weather and sand storms of the Panhandle, that only leaves the Round Rock area.  They have good hospitals down there, and, of course, crazy liberal politicians dreaming up new forms of torture for our own good.  As an example:  Austin doesn't allow stores to give out grocery sacks - plastic grocery sacks - to customers.  You must bring your own.  So stupid; but, we are saving the planet.   Surely, people will bolt against this type of nonsense in the future.  Surely.


The shots for the disease are on the way.  Naturally, they won't be distributed until after Christmas.  At least the plan is to get them distributed.  I wait.


Today is Friday the 13th except in December it comes on Sunday.  Rejoice.


This next bit is a bit maudlin - me thinks that is proper use of the word.

I've ranted before about our local newspaper going down to 2 issues a week.  They try to say that it makes it a better paper.  I believe they are headed for closing down - you should work to make things bigger and better.  You should budget for growth.  They are not.  The are budgeting for  their demise.

Now, for the paper to list all of the weekly obits, sometimes it mus use  up to 2 pages an issue for the obits.  My copy of Saturday's paper is somewhere up the hill in the trash can or I would type you more info.  There were two  obits that caught my eye.  One was for a preacher man.  Most obits are no longer than one column - at the most - this one was three full columns of praise.  His name is not important - here - I'm sure it is important to his people  (see below).  Three full columns.  That's a lot.  A Baptist preacher man can have a very full obit.

Another was typical length.  This guy was apparently your regular Joe.  Raised in Port Arthur, the obit describes his activities (pool, yo-yo, motorcycles, fishing...) and his eating & drinking habits.  I would have a tendency to make fun of these descriptions;  but, his people might set a alligator in my backyard.  That wouldn't be fun.

Obits are not written by the deceased.  They are written by his friends or family.  I'm sure some people would be embarrassed by their own obit's descriptions.  Others might swell with pride.  The preacher went by two initials:  BF.  Not once did they think to give his real full name.  BF was BF, Jr.   His father was BF, Sr.   The article included a paragraph about the father's career.   I'd never seen that done.  That's different.  But were their names BF or Benjamin Franklin or  Burt Fred?  Nobody will ever know.  A hundred years from now as someone is researching ancestry, that person will be slightly held back from knowing.

We have two funeral parlors in town that do most of the business.  One is Griffin-Roughton and the other is  Corley.   You can look up the obits if you want more info.  The red neck one is printed below.  It is really worth the trouble to read. 

I found the preacher:    He had a full preaching life.  Good for him; his children are proud.


January 9, 1938 - December 8, 2020

Now I have found the other one.  Somebody might google his name and think that I am making fun.  Well, I am to a certain degree.  But, I'm not trying to.  His family wrote the obit.  I'm sure he was a nice guy...a terrific friend.  I plan to change his name in the obit that I am printing below.  I hope I don't miss something. Enjoy.

The question  (of course):  should we all write our own obits before it is too late?  It is something to ponder.


James' Obituary

James Coach passed away December 8, 2020, at the age of 74.  (Keep in mind that I am changing some of the names to protect the innocent - me - if you must know the names go to Corley's funeral home.)

James was born February 2, 1946 in Youngstown, Ohio to Choreen and John Coach, Sr.  Growing up as the oldest with his brothers Frank and Edward and his sister Wanda in Port Arthur, James was yo-yo champion. He and his brother Frank would make money while doing yo-yo and playing pool. He even won his sister a bicycle by yo-yo and pool. Taking his role of big brother very seriously, he made sure his younger siblings always had Easter baskets and Christmas presents. He continued that role into his teenage years when he took the time to teach his little sister Wanda how to dance – including how to do the Mashed Potatoes. He was a great dancer and a good-looking young man. With his gift of gab, he always had many friends. James always wore a starched white shirt, which his sister always ironed for him. He loved spending time with his cousins Larry, Darrel, and Sandra, and cutting up and causing mischief for all, including his brother Frank. They were always getting beer in Louisiana and then driving back to Texas in the old Ford. He loved to fish and go crabbing as well. James would ride his bicycle to Pleasure Pier in Port Arthur to catch crabs and put in a bushel basket and ride home. James went to Woodrow Wilson and Thomas Edison High Schools in Port Arthur, Texas.

James was the real deal. His first two marriages, from high school and right after, resulted in two beautiful daughters each: Amara and Sarie from the first, and Fawn Sarie  and Shana Sarie  from the second. His current wife is Melba.  James deeply loved his family and friends. He loved Cajun food and spending time with his cousin Sandra and Rusty during Mardi Gras. He enjoyed fishing with Darrell and Larry and shooting guns with his niece Gathy. He loved chocolate pie from his cousin Shawie (who he called Meaness) and drinking beer on the porch and having long talks with his daughter and his son-in-law Joel. He enjoyed fixing cars with his friend Randy, and he loved riding motorcycles and being in his motorcycle club. James helped everyone.

James supported his family working as a maintenance mechanic and foreman at an envelope factory. When he wasn’t hard at work, he was hard at play. When he was younger, James always took the family camping at Sam Rayburn, and enjoyed fishing more than just about anything. He would fish in the morning and water ski in the afternoon. He also spent vacations in Galveston with Barry and Sarah. He also enjoyed playing pool, yo-yo, crabbing, and playing Cajun music with his cousins. James was pretty Cajun and a proud Coon Ass, so sitting on the porch and enjoying a Budweiser with family and friends was just about perfect – even better if he could have some gumbo, red beans and rice, or boudin.

I'll cut here - no need in listing the entire family or funeral arrangements.  Doesn't this guy James sound like a fun guy?  I'd better that half of east Texas was his friend.      


time to pause until next time.

see ya, (what alligator?)