The Stranger In The Night’s Storm

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Yesterdays drive home was pretty interesting due to all the rain and all. I have been driving my wife’s Mustang back and forth this week due to my Pathfinder being down for the time being. I never realized, really before yesterday, why I don’t like driving cars, especially low profile cars, in storms that are dropping so much water that we are flash flooding everywhere. I never thought this to be a problem until yesterday afternoon, when I was the one in the low profile sports car fighting to be able to see. Something I never suffered or even thought about in my Pathfinder, but it sucks ass in that Mustang, way too low to the ground for me personally. I had that on my mind as I arrived home, still pouring rain, and wondering how much longer I would be doing this drill because I’m not a fan. I really don’t know how my wife does it, but I’ve never heard her complain, don’t think I ever will, because she will never talk shit about her new baby, never. Me, I can, she’s not my baby, my baby is sick, sitting in the drive waiting for Dr. Scorpion to have the money to operate, which will be very soon.

Other than that little challenge, the day was rounding out pretty normal for our house, I was getting dinner ready, secret recipe chicken cordon bleu, everything about it is a secret, and no I will never share it with anyone, I will die with my secret, which is why it is prepared like a black op in my kitchen. I’ve been making this recipe for, let’s call it 25 years or so, many have asked to eat it, many have asked how I make it, and I have yet to cough it up. It’s time consuming, the preparation takes some time, but it gives time to get the twice baked potatoes going as well, another secret, everyone stays the fuck out of my kitchen when I’m going, nobody wants to get cut, except my wife, she braves entering the secrecy of what I’m doing to sneak a kiss. She’s a naughty one you know. After it was all prepared, cooked, the kitchen cleaned spotless, we sat down to eat. We had a “weird” quiet dinner, the mood was as dark as the skies with the storms. Everyone looks tired. Afterwards, we are all fat and happy, kids off to the bath, and its time to wind this bitch down finally.

Sometime just after eight someone is knocking on the front door. My wife and I give each other “that look” of WTF!, shrugging my shoulders I get up out of my chair to check out the knocking on the door. When I swing open the door I see a younger girl standing before me, finding out later she is 20. My initial questions were who are you and what do you want. In my head I was saying, “we’ve found Jesus, we don’t donate to politics, we don’t do surveys, and unless you are selling thin mints this conversation is over”. She introduced herself, I didn’t recognize her name, or her for that matter. Well, she said she would like to talk to me if I had the time, she thinks I can help her with finding something she is looking for. Once we are inside, I invited her in because I was somewhat intrigued, meanwhile I was getting the stink eye from my wife. The young lady presented me with a letter from her mother, in this letter I was listed as a “next of kin” and that she needed to contact me for information on her biological father. Then it hit me, her mother’s name I recognized, talk about a name from the past, like many moon ago past. Apparently her mother and a very, very good friend of mine had a go at it while we were all stationed in Korea together, except she failed to tell any of us she had become pregnant, as it happened she found out after she had rotated back to the world, back to her husband, then she is told she is 3 weeks pregnant. She failed to let her husband know the particulars, just told him she was pregnant.

Obviously many years have past since then, many, and the lives of everyone change as well, divorces happen. Anyway, what had led her to ask a question or three was because of the man she called dad, he needed a kidney, she agreed to donate him one because that is what family does, I tend to agree. But guess what? His daughter, the girl he raised for most of her life, wasn’t a match for donation. But how can that be? We know why, because he’s not her biological father. Needless to say, questions were asked, no real answers could be given, except for one, which was me, because her mother knew that if anyone knew where to find him it would be me. Luckily, she was right, I do know where and how to find him. First, I called her mother, who sent me to voicemail, and I was told that she has chosen to disappear for a while because she doesn’t want to face anyone, especially her daughter. I made one phone call, from the privacy of my bedroom, to my friend, who wasn’t shocked, or at least he didn’t seem shocked or a bit surprised. He gave me permission to give her all of his contact information, his name, and everything related. Ready for the twist? Okay, he was married to wife #1 at the time of conception, divorces a few years later because he caught her red handed cheating on him. Since then, there has been a #2, #3, and a #4, only with wife #1 were there any kids, one son. Now, the kicker, after all these years, guess who he is dating once again, and talking about marriage, wife #1. He is unsure how she will take this news. That’s a damn fine question, how will she take it?

Needless to say, as curious as I am about if he actually comes clean, I don’t think he will. As much as I think of him as family, I know he has two weaknesses in life, women and alcohol, usually mixed together, over and over, repeat, so on and so forth. But, I’ve known this sonofabitch for many, many years, we visited hell and returned a few times over, which is why I keep up with him. He’s really not the kind of person I hang around with these days, simply because I’m too old to run around drinking like a single guy and I know from personal experience how hard that is on family life and marriages in particular. Anyway, back to the story. We talked about her mom a while, a name I hadn’t thought of in probably 20 years, we came back to the world and everyone who was friends over yonder just lost touch. She talked awhile and decided that it was time for her to go. She apologized for taking up our time and away she went. My wife and I had a long conversation about what happened while I was stationed in Korea. How do you explain what happens in another country while away from your family for 15 months one time and 14 months another time. Might as well want to talk about all the times I spent in Las Vegas or any other place I went to. I admit only one thing for myself that I wish would have been different, which was literally being drunk the entire time. I also admitted that I was true to my now ex-wife, I didn’t need or want the trouble. Was it lonely? Yes. And I drank myself into oblivia to keep that shit from driving me crazy. Tempted? Yes. But, the plus for me was I stayed really busy, I did my AF job and I had a part time job as well, not for the money, but to keep the mind and hands busy.

Anyway, be careful of the bumps in the night, it might just be a blast from the past, and that just might lead to questions about things, people, and places that we spent years forgetting. Trust me, a person never married to someone who was in the military has a very hard time understanding that there are times they must be separated for any length of time, which is the death of many marriages, trust me, I know this personally.

The Night The Lights Went Out

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Just so happens that the night the lights went out was last night. Before I begin, I want you to notice the picture, it is the view from my bar, minutes after the power went out for good. The lights had been flickering all evening but never went completely off. After the power outage, the only lights on in the whole place were the glow in the dark stars on the ceiling and walls. Strange how, even in complete darkness, the foggy remains from the show that was happening still linger. About 20 minutes later I get the weather alert below, the fifth one for the night but not the last. Being stuck behind a bar in a very loud strip club with no windows almost made me oblivious to the weather conditions outside. I knew it was pretty rough at home since my wife had text me already to inform me of our power outage and the successful immediate transition of the generator coming online moments later. When I asked her if I needed to come home she told me no because she didn’t want me driving in Houston in the crazy rain. Which translates into, “no dear, we have power, we don’t need you”.

Throughout the night one really couldn’t tell there was severe weather going on outside because there was a very steady flow of people in and out of the club, it was just like any other night at the strip club. And, of course, when the lights flicker at the club it looks like it is just part of the show. Nobody cared until they all went out, I think when people enter our world they forget the real world outside the doors. Now, when the power goes out at the strip club a protocol goes into place. One may not see them but there are, on average, 50 private security inside the club at any given moment, they blend in like at large casinos for immediate response needs. Although the commodity is different here, the employee’s safety is top priority. Which makes sense, at any given time there are 100+ strippers visible in the club, 40+ waitresses visible in the club, and 50+ club staff you may or may not see, floating around the club, and then there is an assload of ” unsecured” cash moving around. All it takes is one brave soul to make the worst decision of his life for all hell to break loose.

Luckily there are generators at the club as well, they are older but do come on after about 10 minutes or so. However, these generators only provide minimal lighting since most of the power is directed towards refrigeration, security, and the air handlers. Needless to say, no neon, no spot lights, no strobe lights, no music, so nothing in regards to entertaining. Almost immediately the place is put on lock down, everyone stops exactly where they are while order is regained. One would be surprised how compliant close to 1000 people can be. I’m lucky to report that there were no incidents that occurred due to the temporary black out. I did, however, get to go home early because after 40 minutes with the power going out the club was shut down for the night. All employees were escorted out because it was jet black outside except for the flashes of lightning. It was creepy, to say the least, no lights anywhere for miles around. Good thing for me that there were almost no other cars on the road either.

So, it was a bizarre and very stormy night here in the Houston area, which anyone who lives here would tell you. It was definitely a wicked band of storms that moved through last night. When I get home power had been restored already and from my quick property survey this morning we didn’t take any physical damages. However, looks like pond is up about 8″, still about a foot below where it is normally. I’m sure the creek is swollen, I will have to check that out later, once I find my rubber boots. I hope that everyone who had storms last night is doing fine because they really did come out of nowhere. Btw, both pictures belong to me, I took the top one and the bottom is a screenshot from my phone, just in case anyone was wondering.

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How Being Under-Qualified Saved Me

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Normally I wouldn’t be especially satisfied with being told that I’m under-qualified for a specific job position. However, having the lack of one specific qualification saved me from moving somewhere I really didn’t want to live. Now that I have the definitive answer let me start from the beginning of how this all came about. Before I get to far ahead of myself let me explain the above photograph. It was taken earlier this year by my cousin who lives outside of Bismarck, North Dakota and sent to my mother (his aunt by marriage) to illustrate what a great winter they were having. My mother thought it humorous to show me the photo since I spend 98% of the year in shorts and flip flops. Anyway, back to the story. Seems in my family circle news of me being laid off has expanded out to extended family as well. Well, my cousin, who has lived in and around Bismarck his entire life, works for a company there that manufacturers diesel powered recreational vehicles (RVs), buses, and large specialty vehicles. Anyway, he had a position open and wanted to give me an opportunity to fill it for him.

Our first telephone conversation was short and to the point, he needed my resume. Now, that’s convenient because I had recently updated my resume. After a few days he called me for an impromptu telephone interview. Seems I offered everything he was looking for with one exception, I don’t have any over the counter sales experience. It would appear that being a bartender isn’t considered actual sales experience. Who knew. Unfortunately, this minor detail is a major deal breaker. In many ways I’m not disappointed in the decision, in other ways, financially speaking, it was a let down. I mean, I just let an $80,000.00 a year job slip through my fingertips as well as a company sponsored relocation. So, in that regard it sucks a bit. Perhaps I wasn’t meant to live that far north, because I’m really not a fan of the cold weather or snow.

In review, I would have had to uproot my family, lease out my home & property, and go live in a place that is known for its harsh winter environment. What in the fuck was I smoking! I imagine, if things would have turned out different, that we would have moved. But, I think I would have regretted leaving Texas. Plus, those damn yankees talk funny, it would have been like moving to a foreign country or something. Personally, I think the right thing happened, maybe for the wrong reasons, but I can live with that.

Spring Break In South Dakota

I was very excited when planning this particular spring break vacation since it would be the first time since all of my kids were very young that we would be all together for a vacation. Why pick South Dakota for spring break? Excellent question. The answer is actually pretty simple, my oldest daughter could not afford to go anywhere so we decided to go be tourists in South Dakota so we could all be together once again. I have deep roots in South Dakota to say the very least. We will get into that later and in other posts as well since that is very interlaced in our vacation because itnwasnt just a vacation it was also a trip down memory lane for me as well. First and foremost our trip was to see our one and only granddaughter. If it hadn’t been for Skype and cell phones I very well would have missed the first 2 1/2 years of her life since the last time I saw her in person was the day of her birth.

So, every vacation begins with the trip, and since I don’t fly, we drive, everywhere. Speaking of which, a brief note, the odometer in my 2005 Nissan Pathfinder flipped 100k on our drive back into town. Anyhow, we left late in the afternoon on Friday 07 March 2014 to begin our 1345 mile trek to our hotel in Deadwood South Dakota. With a gas stops, restroom breaks, and eating breakfast in York Nebraska, we made it in just shy of 24 hours. Yes we drove straight through and yes I drove most of it myself. Since I am not a great passenger I don’t sleep in a moving car. But, a rest from the wheel for 1-2 hours is just as recharching for me personally. Watching the weather the days prior we knew it was going to be a chilly drive as we were headed into a cold front. But, nothing prepares one for 7 degrees with 40 mph winds when getting gas at 3 in the morning. That shit will wake your ass up in a hurry. Surprisingly, the weather at our destination was quite nice and real similar to what we left behind in Texas, minus the 87% humidity. Although, in my opinion, the weather went down hill from that point forward. All and all it was a pleasant drive up there and luckily, we were very lucky, there were no incidents. I will get into it more but the wife and I thought we would have time to gamble a bit (something we rarely do) since the Fairfield Inn was connected to Cadillac Jack’s Casino. Little did we know until checking in that we would get $25.00 per adult per day in Cadillac Cash to spend at the casino. And the room, it was a steal for us, we got upgraded to a $729.99 per night suite and still only had to pay the obligatory contracted $9.00 per night. Yes, we have friends (family) in the Marriot hotel business so it makes traveling great for us. So, moving on…….

After checking in we went to visit my daughter so we could all get something hot to eat for a late dinner. Have I ever mentioned that I was looking forward to my first hello hug from my granddaughter? It was way better than I could have ever imagined it to be. It was wonderful and I really didn’t want to let her go. But I did, I shared, didn’t want to, but I did it anyway. We ate, we colored, we talked, we planned,new reminissed, and the we said goodbyenfornthe night. I personally didn’t want it to end but when the baby says its time then its time. Since my daughter was working Sunday most of the day we decided to make it a “rest day”, stay close to the hotel, and just do a little sight seeing in Deadwood. See, one of the pitfalls of this room was that I this 45 minutes from my daughters house. We woke up late, around 9 or so, got showered, and grabbed the local map to do a little sight seeing. First stop was Mt. Moriah Cematary where Wild Bill and Calamatty Jane are buried. After which I showed everyone where Wild Bill was killed. I know the history of this area real well so I got to play tour guide most of the trip. Now, I don’t want to sound like I am complaining, because we did come to a touristy spot in the “off season”, but the amount of things and places that were “closed for the season to reopen mid-May” became a personal joke for our family on this vacation.

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So, let me give y’all a rundown of what we did or attempted to do each day. Now, for me the closures were no big deal since I have seen all of these things many times before. Deadwood was just that, dead. The casinos were open, some gift shops were open, but things like the Adam’s House, the wineries, and the majority of the tourist like gift shops were closed. We went to Mt. Rushmore, a national landmark, and 90% of the trail was closed. One could walk down under the noses but no further and had to turn around the way we came. We also drove through Keystone, figuring Mt. Rushmore was a bust, and all but one store was closed, not even a restaurant of any kind was open. No, there was not a contingent back up plan, who expects a national landmark and park to be closed. We also attempted to visit Custer State Park, the main route (the paved road) was closed off, diverting drivers off onto the back maintenance roads. On top of that, the buffalo we did see were mere specs when viewed through high powered binoculars. Now, that was disappointing. Then, we went to the biggest tourist trap in South Dakota, Wall Drug. Of course, the “Backyard” where all the really cool stuff hides, was closed.

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There was excitement however, one night we were at my daughter’s house where I cooked them a nice meal, well all of us, and when we left to go to the hotel it was only raining, but in the mountains it was snowing like a sonofabith,nso much that overnight we got over 8″, which is allot for this Texas boy. But, that is where experience pays off for me so it wasn’t as hairy as one might be thinking. The way luck was having it we decided to go for a drive to see ifnincould find the house in Black hawk that my parents finished building the summer of 1968 and where I lived until I was 6 when we moved to Texas. The answer is yes, I did find it, but that is a post in itself. On the way out of town, to return to Houston, we had plans to spend the night in Sioux Falls, my oldest daughter joined us because vacation wasn’t over quite yet. For the first time ever, all of my kids will see where my dad is buried, none of them have ever been there, and my son has always wanted to see his namesake. This will be a post of its own as well, just know it was the highlight of the entire trip. Since we had to leave via Mitchell South Dakota and my daughter had to drive through it to get back to Rapid City, we decided to visit the world’s only Corn Palace, surprise, open for business as well as everything else in the little town. We also took a short side drive to see the house my grandparents built in the 40’s and it is also where both of them are buried.

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Then that was it, the hardest part came, saying goodbye to everyone. That part sucked worse than I could have possibly ever imagined, to put it mildly. Afterwords we did indeed begin the trek home, a long quiet trip that consisted of me driving while drowning out my sorrows with music playing to the max in my headphones. The snow, wind, ice, and rain made sure I stayed awake for the entire trip. Other than that, it too was uneventful. So, there is my spring break vacation to South Dakota in a nutshell. Stick around in the very near future because I have many expanded stories to tell that were merely mentioned today.

So Its Cold, Suck It Up Princess!

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This will probably be the one and only time y’all will ever hear me talking shit about the people in the great state of Texas. But, since I live northeast of Houston Texas I think I will take this opportunity to say my piece. Correct, snow and ice this far south is not a common sight and when Texans see it they absolutely freak out. Texans close public places, government places, roads, airports, bridges, and businesses. Why? Well, they claim we are not “equipped” to drive or be outside in these conditions. In other words, many Texans get cold and they let their pussies hang out for the world to see. When these weather conditions happen I just want to yell “Suck it up princess” because 99.9% of the time it isn’t quite as bad as they make it out to be. The sky isn’t falling or anything. Tell y’all the truth, it’s a bit embarrassing for me, because nobody knows how to act here in inclimate weather. Is it cold outside, depends on what one knows as cold. For people here tho, where this kind of shit isn’t normal, they freak out. For me, I really don’t care because the conditions are still tolerable. I don’t know, it’s strange how people act around here with a little snow and ice. Perhaps that is why we don’t see many Texans moving up north because mentally we are not equipped to handle below freezing temperatures. Who knows.

On the flip side, my year round ducks don’t seem to be minding it too much as they tool around the pond this morning. Perhaps they know that the “wintery mix” will pass sometime in the next few hours and we will get back to normal. I was up this morning bright and early to be into work by 6:30am and I will admit the roads were a little slick. I didn’t see any ice personally but I did see a few accidents on the way to work. The further north a person gets from where I live saw more than we did, one has to get up past the frost line to really be impacted, which they did, I saw on the news they had got 4″ of snow. What are we to do? Don’t these people know that life must go on, that life must press forward, and that living here we all know that we will be in the mid-70s again in a day or so. In my entire life I have never understood why people freak out and get their panties in such a twist when it gets a little chilly. I still wore shorts in to work today, although I did slip on a hoody to keep my core warm. Okay, I’m done. My fellow Texans frustrate me a bit because they freak out and start acting like giant pussies when it drops below freezing but we all know this isn’t shit compared to what the yankees up north deal with for way longer periods of time.

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Observations In Weekend Ramblings

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I spend quite a bit of my time in my shop doing different things that need to be done. I don’t think I have ever shown any pictures of where I do so much. I had run to the hardware store to get a few things I thought I would be using Saturday. When I came back my attention was drawn to my driveway. I wondered to myself when it started looking so bad. Why it looks so bad I can answer because I drive allot of heavy stuff across it on a regular basis. I never thought I would be needing to re-do the driveway anytime soon. I have had repairs to it done earlier this year because my truck was wider than the drive in spots. I made the mistake of getting by with what I needed versus spending the money and getting what I wanted. Why do we do that? I actually took the picture to send to my wife to let her know I was going to get quotes to have the drive redone. She replied with whatever I want to do is fine with her and she doesn’t see any problem with the way it is. But, when it was a gravel road she hated it and now that the asphalt is getting tore up she is fine with it. This is an area where we always disagree and probably always will. Sadly I let this conversation with my wife distract me from what I was actually on my way to do. It happens on occasion, I see things I want to get done, they get put on the “list” and sooner or later might get done. I try to keep my list in check but there are times it gets blown out of proportion. The purpose of this particular weekend was to just relax, stay off my foot, and continue to recover. But, eventhough my wife and kids were out-of-town I just couldn’t sit still and do absolutely nothing, it’s not who I am and it’s pretty much impossible for me to be still.

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When I got out to my shop I was reminded again that I need some kind of pad around the building because it gets a little messy getting in and out at times. Trust me, it’s on the list. This weekend was no different, we got a fair share of rain. Luckily for me, the ground around the building drains pretty well and really fast. Maybe that is why it is always on the back burner. I figure I will probably take the time to grade it out and do it all in gravel sometime this winter. I could do it now but my clutch foot is still full of stitches. I found it was sort of a mistake to drive something with a clutch when I took my truck in for an oil change before running errands to get what I needed. I never knew how much I depended on being able to use my left foot. It’s a challenge to drive but also a challenge to walk. Forget picking anything up heavier than a pillow as I found out. Maybe I should have just planted my but on the couch in front of the television this weekend. There’s time for that later. I’m here now. I’ve returned from the hardware store. I have what I need now and it is time to focus and get it done.

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At the beginning of the summer I was given some re-claimed cypress planks from an old house that was torn down a few miles from here. I accepted the wood as payment for helping out doing a bit of tractor work for the guy doing the demolition. He got his truck stuck and he had walked to the back of my property and noticed I was down by the creek and asked me to help him out. There wasn’t much of the cypress wood to salvage but there was enough, I found, after cleaning it all up, to make two doors. This picture does no justice to the size of them since each one of them are 36″ x 84″. They were actually purpose-built, I had the full intention of using them here on my building to replace both of the single person entrance doors which are metal. However, as I get them done I wonder if it is what I really want to do with them. Do they deserve to be more than just shop entrance doors? I took the picture and sent it to my wife for her opinion and she asked me what in the hell I was doing working and why I wasn’t resting. That wasn’t the answer I was looking for but it was the answer I received. So, there they sat for the remainder of the day, staring at me in a way that I could feel the doors asking me if I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do then why did I do it. Valid question I guess, even if it was from the doors. Perhaps the fumes were getting to me. They aren’t finished yet anyway because I don’t want to completely finish them until I know what they will be used for. Maybe I can just cut my losses of indecision and just sell them, I’ve done it before, made things for the house and decided that it wasn’t what I was looking for. I have began to ask myself why I do it in the first place. Still waiting on the answer by the way.

I spent the rest of the day straightening up my shop, putting things away, and sweeping the floor for the most part. I tried not to move anything because I really don’t want to muck up my foot after 2 1/2 weeks of nursing it back to health. All I know is the sutures come out Wednesday morning if the surgeon “feels” they are ready to come out.  Anyway, I happened across some boxes I had put out in the shop over a year ago that should have made it into the attic but ended up in the corner instead. It goes to show I get sidetracked very easily. There was no need to look into the boxes because I knew what was in them. Fortunately they weigh about 100 pounds a piece so they get to stay where I found them. I piddled around in the shop for the remainder of the day. Around dark-thirty I get a text from my wife letting me know they where home and that the gate was stuck open again. So, I closed up shop, jumped on my ATV, and headed up to the gate to see what was up. As I suspected, the linkage had become undone again. I guess it is time to go ahead and replace it this time instead of the band-aid repairs I have been giving it over the last year. Quite honestly I had completely forgot about having it fixed since I personally haven’t had problems with it. But, I had to do another band-aid fix this time and will mess with taking it off tomorrow to have a new one made at the place I bought it from originally. On my trek back up to the house I decided to skip going down to the shop to put my tools up. As I rode up the asphalt drive it hit me again that I didn’t put on my list to get a quote for the replacement of it. Pretty soon I think I need to chuck the list in a bucket and set it on fire. I don’t know why I do lists anymore because I don’t follow what I can’t keep up with. Well, I figure that sooner or later it will all be done. When I get to the house I was informed that I need to light the grill, which was good because I was beginning to wonder what was dinner.

And, by the way, I have decided to sell the doors. I decided this while I was cooking and thinking I was not looking forward to doing a swap out. I will put them up on craigslist later. Meanwhile, if anyone is interested just shoot me an e-mail. Price? the price will completely be based on who is wanting to buy them. Amazing how a little smoke can clear the clouded mind!