Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Ninety-nine Bottles of Beer on the Wall

Ninety-nine bottles of beer, well not exactly. Would you believe 35 gallons of water? Well, it is hurricane season. I have been saving these jugs in case we needed water during a hurricane. I had no idea I had accumulated that many. Out of sight and out of mind since I started storing them on the shelves in the laundry room. Maybe they have been breeding at night? Busy little buggers they are. I never thought of how time consuming it is to fill all those gallons of water. And that won't even fill the tank. Jeez. Jimmy said last night he would try to get home early today so that he can work on the aquarium. Ahem, we shall see.

So how come the price of oil is going down? Have we really made that much of a difference? Is this a good sign or a bad sign? Back in the 70's the oil field business was big in Texas. A lot of money was made. People were working for regular wages but made so much that they had big houses, cars and boats. Then the bottom fell out and people lost jobs. I have to much for economics of the day.

It is still hot and we could use some rain just to cool us off a little. Probably won't happen. Then again if it does the vegetation around the building will just get higher. Some of it is already at my knees. Wonder what it looks like from Lady and Daisy's view?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

As I sit here looking at this laptop I realize that we really need to get a cooler pad for this thing. Laptops sure put out a lot of heat. I just looked at the new one Dell is offering which is supposed to be cheap and green. It is certainly funny looking. Then again I just saw the new HP TouchSmart system. I looked at that last week and wondered if people would really like it. I guess I got my answer when I looked at the Fry's site and they were sold out of them at $1200 +. Wow, does it burp the baby?

The Texans are working together well in training camp. At least they have a bubble to work in instead of outside in the heat which is nearing 100 or more with the heat index. No problems so far. This year there is real competition for positions. We have not had much of that before.

I have been saving milk gallon jugs for hurricane season just in case. So I thought I would help Jimmy with the aquarium by filling some of them with water. Let's see, so far I have filled 18 and then I realized I still have another 18 jugs that are still on the shelves in the laundry room. I had no idea we had that many. I'm not sure but I think these guys may have been breeding late at night. How did we end up with so many. Well, if nothing else, we will have water during a hurricane.

As I watched "Bones" on tv last night I was reminded of the mice when in a scene Temperance uncovers a nest of newborn rats in the middle of what was left of a corpse. Juicy. It reminded me of "our" little mice who have since succumbed to the elements and lack of food. Ew. The fish head still lies staring blankly at the left front tire on the truck. I knew a radio dj who once said he could not eat anything that looked at him from the plate. I can understand why.

The public utility commission here has again issued a "yellow" warning for electric usage. Don't use your oven, dishwasher, or dryer between 3PM and 7PM and set thermostats at 85 if we are not going to be home during the day. Yeah, right. Let them come home to a hot house. They hope to avoid rolling blackouts by having us do this. uh huh. Sure. Gotta love Texas heat.

Life goes on --even for Brett Favre. Sigh...

Monday, July 28, 2008

Just the Average Weekend

The aquarium is coming along. We got a dark back drop and yesterday Jimmy actually washed the gravel. We bought some new airline tubing, new filters,carbon and zeolite cartridges. We even bought some aquarium salt which we have not used before. I read the box and could not help but snicker. The idea of salt being helpful in reducing stress just seemed funny to me. Guess you have to be a fish to understand.

Later Saturday I discovered two strange things. First when I was about to walk Daisy, I discovered a couple of tiny, pink creatures squirming toward the sidewalk. Daisy went nuts, then she found two more. I put Daisy back inside while I investigated. Two of them were rolling around near the corner of the building by our door. It was then I realized they were newborn mice. Aw man, now I have to worry about mice? Maybe I should bribe the neighbor's cat to come play exterminator. Needless to say I was torn because I hate to see baby animals in peril but I don't want any mice problems either. Unfortunately for them, today I found them dead. I don't understand why their mother did not care for them.

The second thing I found later in the afternoon. This was a little disturbing too. As I walked Lady, we discovered a fish head in the parking lot. It was positioned as if it were put there deliberately. It was on the pavement inches away from Jimmy's truck with the head pointing at the front left tire. Gee, when did we piss off the mob? After all, at least in the movies, when a person gets a dead fish it means sleep with the fish, in other words a warning from the mob. Well if we disappear into infinity....

For some reason I thought of the old tv show "Ben Casey". At the beginning of the show Dr. Zorba was writing on the blackboard the symbols for man, woman, birth, death, infinity. Seems that we covered those symbols, well maybe. Anyone seen Tony Soprano lately?

Friday, July 25, 2008

It's Friday!!

It's Friday and the rain here has finally stopped. Of course that means we will soon be back to good old Texas heat. Blah...

I just heard some sad news. Randy Pausch has died. His "Last Lecture" is finished. May he rest in peace.

On a lighter note...
Waking Up for Church

One Sunday morning, a mother went in to wake her son and tell him it was time to get ready for church, to which he replied, "I'm not going."

"Why not?" she asked."I'll give you two good reasons," he said. "One, they don't like me, and two, I don't like them."

His mother replied, "I'll give YOU two good reasons why you SHOULD go to church. One, you're 54 years old, and two, you're the pastor!"

I found this joke and had a good laugh.

Now we will get to see what the Texans training camp looks like. The players arrived yesterday. "play-offs" is the word used by many team members...hum.

Well, I have to get my grocery list together.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Wait Till Next Year - again, Football Anyone?

Well, at least the Houston Astros can't loose today. They don't play. The Astros did win the battle with the Pirates. That is the battle for the cellar. We were hoping for a sweep, then at least one win against the pitiful Pirates. Well, as one local sports reporter said, that ended with a "resounding thud." Sure the optimists can say that we can overcome this and make it a close race. Excuse me while I laugh convulsively. Wait and see what happens at the trade deadline. Probably not much.

Looking forward, the Houston Texans start training camp Friday. With the improvements made last year we are hoping for better games. I just hope that the game we are going to will be a good one. I wonder how good the Ravens will be? It would be nice to go a game that the hometown team actually wins. I've only been to one pro game, years ago which was a game for the division championship. My team lost. I have had better luck with my college teams. I saw Texas win several Cotton Bowl games, a couple of those made them National Champions. I also saw Alabama win the National Championship against Arkansas years ago. But this year neither Texas, nor Alabama is picked to win their conference, much less the National Championship.

Since most of the sports reporters here have "stuck the fork in the Astros" assuming they are done, I guess it's time to move on to bigger and better things. Say what is Brett doing these days?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Marriage - For Better Or Worse- Well...

It has been said that marriage is a partnership. For better or worse marriage has been considered "the ties that bind". Common interest and common goals help keep those ties bound. And then there is the fish tank. Over the years we have had a couple of aquariums. The kids all seemed to enjoy the fish. Even the grand-kids like watching the activity in the tank. We bought a ten gallon aquarium for Christmas last year. We bought various little fish and watched them swim around the tank. They learned that when I opened the tank lid it was feeding time. Quickly they would all gather at the top, waiting to get the first little flakes. It takes so little to make fish happy. How did I get stuck with the job of feeding them? Uh, is it time to add water? How do you clean it? Uhhh...

For the last couple of months Jimmy has been looking longingly at bigger tanks. A bigger tank would allow us to have more fish. We looked at some 29 gallon tanks and some 55 gallon tanks. Who knew these water filled glass tanks would be so expensive. That does not even include the stand. Our little 10 gallon tank sits comfortably on a little stand. Nice and quiet near the sofa. Then comes the male "bigger is better" logic. Husband says "I sure would like a bigger tank." Here we go. I think, "what's wrong with the one we have?" Of course he needs to clean it now because it is getting a little cloudy. I don't do windows, I mean aquariums. To me that would mean gallons of treated water, some place for the fish while Jimmy cleans the tank. I don't clean this remember. Somehow I got stuck with the job of fish feeding. That's enough for me.

So Amanda visits one day and she and her dad talk about the 55 gallon tank she just bought on Craig's List. I smell a plot here. The next thing I know Jimmy is searching... He tells Amanda to call this number or that number. I have visions of a big tank and where in the world will it go. Why do I feel that I will be outnumbered here?

The next thing I know Jimmy is buying a used 55 gallon tank and all the hoses, filters, pumps and other stuff. When he came home with it, I was less than happy. Guess who is going to have to clean this thing? Little did I know that this little hubby/wife project would turn out to be the project from Hell. No problem, I'll get this cleaned up. Not so fast. I have no idea how long it has been sitting idle. Did I really think this would be easy?

Well, I finally have cleaned it as good as I can. It was no easy task. And just why did we decide to do this? Then Jimmy remembered it will need a stand. Just how much does a 55 gallon tank filled with water weigh? Naturally he can't find a suitable one cheap. This little project is suddenly getting larger and more expensive. Let's see- used aquarium $100, new stand $90. Just where are we going to put this? Of course it will fit between the dead tv and the chair (another story) in front of one of the two windows along the wall of the living room. Now, just where is the Christmas tree we bought last year along with the little aquarium going? Uh... So now I look at a wall full of two tvs and two fish tanks.

So far we in addition to the stand we have bought some new tubing since the old tubing is too small to clean. I have cleaned up the tank, the thermometer, the light covers and other tops, some of the plastic tubes. I still have to finish the pump cover and then I need to do the pump and some of the big tubes. Then we have to buy some charcoal things that fit on some of the tubes and some "stones". I have yet to figure out that name. Oh and somehow I have to get the gravel clean. Yes I know we could buy some new stuff, but we are trying to save some money here. We still have to get more fish and some live plants and on and on.

It is so nice to be able to do things together. Yeah, this will be a nice little (large) addition to our living room. I have read that watching fish in an aquarium is good for the blood pressure. And doing things together as a couple is part of the joy of marriage. For better or worse, right? Ask me again when this aquarium is up and running. Better yet ask me when it is time for him to clean the tank.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sometimes It's Tough...To be a Dog

Now that things have returned to normal after the discovery of "sleeping Beauty" we still have the problem of Daisy's allergies. We never had a problem where we used to live. Of course I know there were bugs in the grass, but the grass was well kept. And of course both Daisy and Lady are protected against fleas, ticks and other little critters that might bite or make them itch.

I can't say the same thing for this townhouse building and the "yard" around it. While there is some grass around the side that faces the street there is mostly weeds around the back and walkway between buildings. Daisy does not like it when the grass gets high enough to cover my shoes and she seriously doesn't like the weeds when they get high. I measured some of them the other day and they were nearly up to my knees. No wonder Daisy doesn 't want to walk there. She would rather do her business in the street than go through the yard. I can't really blame her.

Finally, last evening the guys came to do their infrequent lawn mowing. I am sure this morning that Daisy is happier. The last couple of days she has been very uncomfortable to the point of hives. She has not been able to sleep or even stay still with her constant scratching. I have had to resort of giving her benadryl a couple of times a day just so she can relax. Poor thing, just the look or her face is heartbreaking. So yesterday when she was having such a terrible time I have her a bath and some benadryl. I could tell she felt better.

Now that the weeds have been mowed down I was able to convince her to walk around the back of the building. She was hesitant but she had to check out where the guy was sleeping. She had to investigate the ground and the blanket and towel which were left there. The mowers just tossed them up against the building. After checking over the evidence she decided it was ok to keep walking.

So far this morning she and Lady are still sharing my chair. Daisy was a little sick this morning and she keeps looking at me like she is in trouble. I keep telling her she is not. I guess I should go back to my chair and rock my girls a little while. Sometimes life is tough for all of us, right? Even dogs.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I've Been a Little Nervous

Have you ever run across a person asleep in your yard? I went out to walk the Daisy around 9 this morning. As I turned the corner to the yard behind our building I saw a person lying in the grass. Chicken that I am, I turned and walked the other way. I walked around to the other side of the building. I did not want to take a chance so I didn't get close to him. I thought maybe I should ask the guys at the fire station if they could check on him. As luck would have it no one was there. So I decided to wait until after I walked around the block. When I finished walking Daisy, I peeked around the corner to see if he was still there. He was. He apparently had not moved. I wondered why someone would willingly lie in the high grass and weeds at the back of our building. I wrung my hands, what should I do. I am here by my self. What if it is the neighbor's son? I don't ever see him, so I don't know him. Besides he has his own car. If he and dad had a fight, he could sleep there. I worried. What to do. I don't want anything or anyone to come back at me.

I called 911 and explained that there was a person lying in the grass behind our building. The operator wanted to know if he was in a ditch. No in the grass at the back of the building. She asked if I thought he needed an ambulance. I don't know I was not going to get that close. Suppose he had a gun, or was a rapist? I took the chicken route. Finally the deputy showed up. He went behind the building and woke the guy up and took him to the car. He was a young guy with a backpack. He looked directly at me as they walked by me. I walked back to the area where he was and found a couple of big towel/blanket things still there. This was about 9:30 and it is now 11: 15 am and the police car is still in our parking lot. Now I wonder what is going on. Why are they still there?

I put Daisy and Lady in the bedroom and closed the door in case the deputy needed to come ask me something. They are not too happy right now cause I won't let them out. Now I wonder what is going on. What if I made a mistake? What if the guy lives here. Like I said I rarely see our neighbors especially the ones on the other side. So I really would not recongnize a couple of them. Then again why would somebody want to bed down in all our high weeds? I hope this doesn't come back to haunt me.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yet Another Smart Pet Trick

First Daisy snatches a package of cheese crackers and hides them in the chair without even breaking one. She still has not figured out who found them. Once in a while she still searches around the chair and looks over at me with a funny look.

Then we discovered that she liked to pull the toilet paper off the roll. Some times she would pull it off and make shreds of it. Other times she would just pull it around the room and leave it for me to find. I keep testing her to see if she has lost interest in that little stunt. Nope. Leave any toilet paper roll where she can get to it and there will be a trail of evidence.

Lately we have taken to leaving the bathroom door in our room open so we can get more airflow into the bedroom. I have discovered that since the room does not have a ceiling fan it gets hot upstairs these days. So we put a fan on the dresser and let it circulate the air. It seems to help keep the room cooler. Since there is a vent in the bathroom, I've been leaving the bathroom door open. This helps too. But there was a question about what would happen with the toilet paper. If Daisy happened to go into the room she would probably snoop around the bathroom. Of course then the toilet paper hanging on the spindle would be very tempting. She still thinks it is fun to pull or shred the paper. So I put the paper on top of the tank. She can't reach it there. I know this makes it a little less convenient to use, but we are talking cooler room here.

The other day I decided to give Daisy a little test. Rather than put the paper on the spindle I sat it on top of the spindle. Let's just see what Daisy will do. Will she grab it and tear up the pieces? Would she pull it around the room? Ah, no. She did none of that. When I went into the bedroom, I looked into the bathroom. The toilet paper was gone. I saw no evidence of the crime. So then I had to look for the missing toilet paper. No clues in the bathroom, no pieces on the floor. Well, where did it go? Did she hide it like she did the crackers? I looked under the bed and discovered that she had stashed the roll of paper there. She did not chew on it or mess it up in any way. Just like the crackers she had carefully hidden it. When I went downstairs I noticed Daisy was looking at me with trepidation. What could I do? I had to give her a hug. Nice trick, Daisy.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Summer Heats Up - Sort of

Well I did not even open this laptop yesterday. I was too irritated to do much. Jimmy decided to buy a used 55 gallon aquarium. We had talked about getting a bigger one so we could have some more fish. So he found this one for a mere $100, cough. When he brought it home, I discovered that it was very dirty. I guess the previous owner really did not take good care of it. So yesterday I went to work cleaning it. Or so I thought. I took out the covers, lights, filters, tubes, gravel, etc. The aquarium components were very dirty with a lot of calcium/lime built up on almost all of the surfaces. After it all dried I discovered that all the buildup was still there. Grrr. So now we have to go to plan B and get something else to clean off the gunk. So, I spent three hours yesterday for nothing. Again grrr. Oh well, it will be a while before we set this up anyway.

Our friend Jan, whose house burned down just let us know she will come down this fall. She decided she wanted us all to go to one of the Houston Texan football games. Since the Texans don't play the Redskins (her team) she bought tickets for the game against the Ravens. Again she went through a ticket broker. Over $800 she spent! Yikes!!! We think she is nuts! I don't understand why she doesn't just buy tickets from the teams. It would be cheaper that way. But she insisted that she can afford it so why worry. Sigh, I have to wonder why this woman has such a need to prove things to her friends...

So next week will be the Baseball All-Star game. Our Astros have had a few problems (a few?) this year. Let's see, no pitching, no hitting, no life...So I thought I would take another look at my Best of the Worst teams . On April 18th the Best of the Worst team was a tie between Tampa Bay and Texas at 7-9 one game better than the Astros. Now we have as the Best of the Worst the Baltimore Orioles at 44-46 followed by the Astros (what?) at 42-50 . Then we have the Cleveland Indians at 38-53. Then there is a tie for fourth place between Seattle and San Diego at 36 -56. Sitting in the basement of basements is the Washington Nationals at 35-58. So they are the worst of the worst while Baltimore is now the Best of the Worst. Even the Tigers have climbed out of the cellar and are in third place in their division only 7 games out of first place. There is still hope. And who would have thought that the Tampa Bay Rays who were 7-9 in April would have the best record in baseball now at 55-36. Rays and Cubs in the Series???

I really don't hold a lot of hope for the Astros getting hot, but the temperatures are creeping up higher and higher. No rain in sight for this week-end and the thermometer should hit 95,96,97,98 in the next few days. With the heat index added we are looking at triple digits. Yeah, summer is heating up. Think I'll go sit under the fan. Somebody bring me a frozen margarita please.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Czech-what, Kolache-who?

Ever eaten a kolache? A lot of people here in Texas do. I had never heard of them until I moved here years ago. It was then I ran into some dear old ladies who loved to make them. Some are fruit or jam filled and others have sausage. Kolaches have a long history. Texans love a good kolache. In some places they are a little hard to find.

Kolache (also spelled kolace, kolach, or kolacky, from the Czech and Slovak plural koláče) are a type of pastry consisting of fillings ranging from fruits to cheeses inside a bread roll. Originally only a sweet dessert from Central Europe, they have become popular in parts of the United States. Several cities, including Prague, Oklahoma and Caldwell, Texas, hold annual Kolache Festival celebrations, while Montgomery, Minnesota claims to be the "Kolacky capital of the world" and holds an annual festival known as "Kolacky Days". Verdigre, Nebraska stakes the same claim, with a similarly named festival. Prague, Nebraska is commonly known as the home of the world's largest kolache. Fayetteville TX claims the title of "Kolache Capital of Texas". Crosby TX also has a yearly Czech festival. St. Ludmila's Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids, IA hosts it annual Kolache Festival the first full weekend in June every year and makes over 600 dozen kolaches to sell at this annual event.

It was the sweet chosen to represent the Czech Republic in the Café Europe initiative of the Austrian presidency of the European Union, on Europe Day 2006.

In Texas and Oklahoma, several restaurants and bakeries specialize in kolache; popular areas in central Texas include the communities of West, Weimar, and Schulenburg, as well as the Nebraska town of Wilber, which have large Czech populations . These restaurants and bakeries now sell varieties for all meals of the day and include versions such as Philly cheesesteak, ranchero, and chocolate cream cheese. The Bluebonnet City of Ennis has celebrated the Polka Festival (see National Polka Festival link below) since 1966, with a weekend of parade, street dancing and dinner/dances at the fraternal Czech halls. Kolaches are sold on the street and in the local Czech bakery. The official "Czech Capital of the United States," Wilber Nebraska holds the annual Wilber Czech days, during which several thousand kolaches are sold by various town groups and businesses.

A related dish is a klobasnek, which often uses similar bread but is filled with a piece of sausage. We call them kolaches anyway! They may also contain ham and cheese, sausage, jalapeño slices, and more resemble a "pig in a blanket" than the original pastry. There is also a sweet and flakey filled pastry with Polish origins called the Kolachky.

Jimmy and I love the sausage ones. Unfortunately it is a little hard to find good ones. Many places sell them but they usually have something like "Little Smokies" dinner weiners. Some places don't even use the smokie style. Some use sausage which most Texans love to grill or cook. Texans love to battle over who has the best Texas sausage. But finding sausage with more of a German spice to it can be difficult.

When we recently went to buy groceries we found "German" sausage in among all the brands of sausage including Jimmy Dean, Hillshire Farms and various Texas and local ones. We decided to try the "German" style one evening for supper. It was then we thought this would be more like a real kolache. Then we had the "brilliant idea". Let's make some!

Take two people who have never made any bread before and find a recipe for kolaches. Who's bright idea was this? Let's see, got the ingredients, read the recipe. Then what? Do you think this has risen? Has it doubled in size? Ok, now how do we get the sausage in? How much dough do we use? Who knew yeast could be so finicky? Sticky, gooey...hum. Is this really worth all the trouble?

Our first attempt was not too bad. Some were too big-all bread, little sausage. Some were a little over done from cooking too long. But taste-wise they were not too bad. Jimmy wanted the bread to be sweeter so the next batch we added a little more sugar. This time it seemed to take forever to rise. Maybe the yeast didn't like the extra sugar. Hey, nobody said it would be easy. I wish I could have the the faces of the guys when Jimmy told them what we did. I know the comments went something like "No way" or "You did what?". I have not had a chance to taste last night's batch. Fear, maybe? I think I will just wait till Jimmy gets home. After all Rome was not build in a day, right? Making good kolaches takes time too. Well, now I have to get the mess cleaned up. Flour fight anyone?

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Taking a Little Time

As my fingers caress the keys I realize how much I miss the internet when I can't get it. Several times this week and last I had a thought or found some information that I wanted to check out. Alas, I was unable to do so. I guess I could have rented a computer or gone to a cafe, but that really defeated the purpose of having a home computer. Now that Jimmy is back and hopefully won't have to go out of town for a while, I again can use his laptop computer.

To say that I am still irritated at the lack on response from Amanda's friend is an understatement. But, I guess it is an example of what is wrong with people today. We all make promises to friends and family that we know we are not going to be able to keep. So why do we continue to do this? Why do we leave others hanging on to a promise? And why do we not communicate? The net makes it easy for most of us to keep up with our office work and friends. There is still the option of the old stand by - the ancient device known as the telephone. The more modern device would be called the cell phone. Why don't some people do what used to be considered the polite thing and call? When I was a kid my mother took time to teach me "phone manners". When calling, I had to say "May I please speak to..." If the person was not home, I had to say something like "thank you, I'll call later",or "May I leave a message?". Who takes that time now? It is much easier and less personal to e-mail or text someone. That is assuming a person wants to take the time to do that. When I learned the politeness of phone calls as a child, it was considered courtesy to call and tell someone that they may not be able to come at the agreed time or that the person would be delayed. I still think this is a good idea. Some people don't seem to remember that. It is just easier to leave a person waiting, waiting, and waiting. Many times they use the excuse "I lost your number". That is if you even find out why they never showed up. Is this the way friends treat each other?

Needless to say, I am still waiting for Amanda's friend to come by to fix our pc. Of course it is partially our fault since we believed what he said. At the prices charged by most computer repair people I can just about buy a new one. Of course I would have to save up for a while.

Now let me go see what I have missed these last few days...