Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rain over Naruna

Some days in Naruna are more nearly perfect than others. This Saturday was going pretty good already...the LB had fixed something new for breakfast, an open-faced bacon, egg, onion, & goat cheese sandwich on a piece of nan bread. I got some more painting done on my project room, while the LB made a batch of snack mix which involved cashews, corn chex and homemade caramel sauce. That tired her out and she had headed upstairs to rest her eyes(just for 15 minutes or so) when the sky began to darken, and soon some thunder could be heard. The canine residents and I walked out on the front porch just as the skies opened and huge drops began to fall. It didn't last long, and we only measured 0.2", but it dropped the temperature from 102 to 78 in less than 10 minutes. As quickly as it came, it was gone, the sun came out again and all that was left were some rumbles and clouds headed south out of Naruna.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Birthday Weekend - part 3

No birthday celebration is complete without dinner at the birthday boy(or girl)'s choice of location. One place we had heard of and read about in San Antonio was The Silo. This is an up-scale, yet casual, spot which has garnered good reviews for both service & food. After spending most of Saturday afternoon napping in the cool of our hotel room, we saddled up and headed over to Austin Highway in search of vittles.
The dining room was smaller than I expected, but was still quiet enough to be able to carry on a conversation without straining to hear. Chicken-fried oysters on a bed of spinach, topped with an obviously homemade Hollandaise started our adventure. Angie went for a grilled tuna steak, while I opted for sauteed redfish on a bed of sauteed shrimp. Susan went off on a different tangent, getting a tasty piece of lamb (I stole a bite). A very nice Pinot Grigio helped wash everything down. None of us had room for dessert on our own, so we did a three-way split of a wonderful "White Chocolate & Fresh Berry Bread Pudding with White Chocolate Truffle Sauce", with an Espresso or coffee accompaniment.
After feasting for the better part of the evening, we felt the need to move around a bit, so headed back downtown to show Angie the Emily Morgan & the view. It turned out she didn't know anything about Emily(I swear the child slept through Texas History), so I was able to expound on the fabled Yellow Rose until she and her mother were both tired of listening. We went out to stretch our legs, strolling the Alamo grounds, and continuing on down to the Riverwalk. Quickly, we learned the masses of people we had encountered on Friday night were far exceeded by the Saturday night rowdies. At 11:00, everything was still in full swing and at full volume. As we struggled through the packed sidewalks, we saw areas which had been quiet and isolated on our last trip years ago, which were now lined with one overflowing drinking establishment after another. Maybe if I was twenty-something and looking for a good time, it would be okay. At 57 and tired of walking, it was just too crowded and too loud.
After ascending back to street level, we wandered past several downtown landmarks, including the Menger Hotel. The bar at the Menger is where Teddy (the good) Roosevelt recruited his Volunteers for a trip to Cuba from the cowboys and adventurers who were found in San Antonio. The Menger lies just across the alley from the Alamo, and this alley is where horse-drawn carriages line up to give visitors a tour of the downtown area. The carriages range from plain to gaudy, but all are adorned with a variety of lights to help make them more visible to automobile traffic. We went for a very pleasant trip with Jimmy(the driver) and Jack(the horse), and the slow trip into the past helped us to settle down and prepare ourselves for the end of our long day.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Saturday - In the Park

Saturday morning in San Antonio! Our night had not been as restful as hoped, with the alarm clock going off repeatedly at midnite, playing very exciting Mexican music. Why do I never think to check those things before I crawl into bed?

After a quick breakfast, we swung by the youngest child's apartment, and with her in tow, headed to the San Antonio Zoo in Brackenridge Park. Getting there early was part of our plan to miss the hottest part of the day, yet we still managed to enjoy the 100+ temperatures. Lots of renovation and new construction are going on at the zoo, and eventually it will be beautiful, and a better place for the animals. Right now, S.A. is suffering along with the rest of Central Texas as the drought continues...and continues. Everything brown and dry. Even the rhino was hunting a spot of shade & the elephant was enjoying a cool shower. Someday I'll remember that summer is not the best season to visit a zoo, since the animals are just as hot and uncomfortable as the rest of us. Maybe between Christmas and New Year's next time.

We enjoyed visiting the Lorikeets in their aviary, and were able to feed them little cups of nectar while they sat on your shoulder. Unfortunately, what goes in has to come out, and I had one little bird poop in my shirt pocket while perched upon my hat. Fortunately, the L.B. had a ready supply of hand sanitizer to help clean me up. (She really does take care of me.)

Butterflies are pretty and didn't excrete anything on me, so we spent time wandering through their special abode. Rarely still for more than a second or two, pictures tend to be a bit blurry. As the day heated up, our enthusiasm dropped, and soon our thoughts turned to air conditioners and food. Angie knew of a local place which had a wide array of hotdogs & frankfurters. A large glass of cold lemonade made everything right for me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!

As we grow older, and approach what some refer to as "maturity", birthdays are not so much celebrated as greeted with a sense of relief. My father died before he turned 52, so in many ways I view any time I get past that as a "bonus". I have made all the usual promises to myself; spend more time with family, travel to new places, etc. , yet find myself slipping back into spending too much time at work. Not a good way to stay on the good side of the Lovely Bride.

This past week the L.B. announced we were going to San Antonio to celebrate my birthday, and she had already planned everything. She had gotten us out of our duties at church on Sunday and said we were just going to play tourist and take it easy for the weekend. Friday afternoon saw us on the road to S.A. after only a couple of minor misdirections, such as me having to rescue her at the Puppy Motel after her car battery died of a heat stroke.

We arrived in San Antonio with no further difficulties, and she cryptically directed me to our hotel, although she wouldn't tell me the name until she abruptly announced "There it is!" as I cruised past. She had gotten a room at the Emily Morgan Hotel, named after the famous "Yellow Rose of Texas", who supposedly distracted General Santa Ana at the battle of San Jacinto, allowing the Texicans to route the Mexican troops. Our room overlooked the grounds of the Alamo, and had a beautiful view of downtown S.A. The L.B. had connections to the hotel in its previous incarnation as the Medical Arts Building and used to go there for doctor appointments. The San Antonio Express-News building, where her Daddy used to work, was just one block down from the hotel, so it was like a homecoming for her.
Friday night we were tired out, and so just went strolling around the Alamo about dusk. Thinking it might be cooler down near the river, we took the stairs and headed down along the riverwalk. Lots of people made walking difficult and blocked what little breeze was moving, so we picked a restaurant, La Paloma, and managed to snag a table on the river's edge. A couple of really good margaritas helped us relax a bit and start to cool off. As we waited for dinner, we engaged in one of our favorite pastimes, people watching.

Hot plates arrived, bringing wonderful smells with them. We quickly dove in to our first, but not last, Tex-Mex fix of the weekend. Steak Tampiqueno, carne asada, and chicken enchiladas con poblanos were surrounded by the usual rice and beans. Guacamole, chips and salsa rounded out the fare.

With food out of the way, we sat and sipped our drinks while watching the crowds. We kept thinking that the riverwalk was certainly packed, and wondered if there were some convention or special event taking place. We finally managed to stand erect and waddled off toward our room. Alamo Plaza was much quieter, and the Emily Morgan loomed over the historic shrine in the moonlight. Once away from the crowds of the Riverwalk, it began to feel like we really had come home.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dave's little project

Inertia can be a powerful force to overcome. Little nudges are sometimes needed to start things in motion. For some of us, large explosive charges are required to get us moving. My Lovely Bride recently provided just such a gentle nudge.

She decided that the old, faded, nasty carpet which has survived numerous children and pets for more than twenty years had to go. Now. This came about when our second child's husband came home from Iraq, and embarked on a total redo of their house, including replacing all the flooring with tile & wood laminate. Then there was a minor water problem which forced them to rip it all out and do it again. The LB thought it looked good, and since her son-in-law had all that on the job experience, she wanted to put in wood finish laminate throughout the downstairs. All I had to do was pay the bills.

As the start of this project drew near, I decided there was one I needed to take care of. There is a small unfinished room just off the living room which the previous owners used to store firewood. (Yeah, inside the house!) I always thought it would make a nice little office space for me, but it has been too convenient a spot to store junk over the eleven years we have lived here. Plus there is that pesky inertia thing. The short version is that I decided to clean it out and finish it before the new floor goes in.

The photos here are of the current stage. I couldn't bring myself to take pictures of it before I started...think bare plywood walls, particle board sub floor, and stuff stacked 1/2 way up the walls. Just emptying it out made me feel better, and now there is visible progress with sheet rock in place. Next is paint, and I will try to keep up with some more fotos.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Think She Loves Me?

There are times when we wonder how our spouses feel toward us. At other moments, there is no doubt at all of their feelings, good or bad.

Friday afternoon I arrived home from work a bit early, and so had a chance to sit and visit with my Lovely Bride while I unwound from the long week. Soon she disappeared into the kitchen, and I began to smell wonderful smells escaping into the living room. Garlic and basil were two which I could identify, and there were a host of others. I managed to control my curiosity until I was summoned, and discovered her idea of a quick meal.

Linguine formed the foundation of this dish, topped with a homemade-from-scratch alfredo sauce. Arranged artistically atop this mound of pasta perfection was a small school of sauteed shrimps which she had gotten from her "Shrimp Guy" who makes periodic runs to the Texas Gulf coast so his friends don't have to eat store-bought shrimp. Pesto was splashed freely over the shrimp, just in case further encouragement was needed.
Alongside, she had tossed together a beautiful salad with fresh strawberries, slivered almonds and feta cheese with the delicate greens. It was completed with just a quick splash of a vinaigrette dressing. All this was washed down with a glass of ice cold sweet tea. I know a meal such as this usually calls for more exotic beverages, such as a good sangiovese or a vernacchia, but I have discovered that the more wine I drink, the less I remember! Perhaps that is why much of our vacation last summer is a bit blurry.

Everything tasted as good as it looked, and even though the LB kept denying it was anything special, it certainly settled in my mind how she feels about me. No doubt!