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




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