Monday, February 25, 2008


Hog Heaven

I received a phone call from my neighbor in Wimberley last week. He told me that the feral pigs, that have become a major pest in the area, had paid me a visit. I was told that they hit my yard just below the cliff near his ramp. Sharon and would have to wait to go and look at the extent of the damage because of Meg and Danny's wedding. We were not in a hurry because we didn't want to see any damage to beautiful yard we had worked so hard on. Sharon and I had taken grass plugs to plant. It took us nearly a year of this labor intensive landscaping. I went up almost every week to water trying to get the grass established. It took almost 10 years before the total yard, down by the river, was completely covered. We have lost sections over the last 5 years due to both drought and debris left from flood that were not cleaned up in a timely manner, but it didn't look too bad and usually recovered within a year.

We got to Wimberley about 5:30 PM friday but didn't go directly to our property. We were not ready yet. We ate at Marco's and finally got to our property about dusk. I looked down at the yard below the cliff. I was horrified. It was not just a strip of yard near the neighbor's property, it went almost all the way across our entire property. I didn't want to go down at that point so we went into our apartment for the night. The next morning with full light, the damage was more than what we had seen in the fading light the evening before. Our yard looked as if it had been plowed. When I went down to look closely, it was still worse. The pigs usually skim off the sod to eat what is right under the mat, usually no more than a couple of inches. Not so in my case. What the pigs found good to eat was much deeper. They had rooted up at least 6 to 10 inches of soil. There were pecan tree roots sticking up. Dead pad of grass was everywhere. It was too rough to even drive my lawn tractor across. I worked all day, from 9:00 to 4:30, and had about a 10 foot by 10 foot section level, cleared of dead grass clumps, but without a single blade of live grass. It was too much for me to do. I literally cried a short bust after dinner. I was worn out, hurting all over and realized that my old butt just couldn't function anymore. I could not fix the yard without help.

I think I have found a neighbor that will bring in a piece of heavy equipment to level the yard as best he can. It will be full of dead sod so we cannot start the grass plugging process right away. It will take years to recover. On the way back to Houston, Sharon and I realized that losing our beautiful yard wasn't as devastating as we first though. That just wasn't as important as a lot of other things in our lives. We have fairly good health for our age, our daughter survived a very scary health crisis. I have finally stopped worrying about my son....I think he may have finally joined the real world...although I am still worried about his sugar consumption. We have three beautiful grandchildren,

Today, I went to the pool and exercised. When I was through at the MAC, I drove to Petie's house. I don't usually do that, but I needed a fix. I just walked in the back door....I have warned Petie to keep it locked. I was greeted with the three biggest smiles I could have possible received. Joelle asked her usual question, "Poppy, why did you come here?' It was not a question like I really don't want you here, she just wanted to know if there were any specifics. She was glad to see me, you could see it in her big beautiful smile. Lil' Lisie Bear was all smiles when she saw me and kept coming by my chair for hugs and kisses...she even gave me a kiss. Petie was content with her two happy girls and busy with the laundry...just being a good Mom. She had brought out her easter egg cup collection that had Joelle's total attention. She stopped her laundy chores to read Lil' Lisie Bear a book. Joelle was later singing in the play room, Lisie was now laughing and pulling DVD'd out of the cabinet and Petie and I were content. That's what is important, not a yard that you can show off as something beautiful you own. Anybody can buy and maintain a piece of property. A family that is happy and loves you cannot be bought. That is Hog Heaven.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


What a line of bull

I have started watching the grocery store ads to see if there are any bargains in fruits, fish or beef. I look for bargains in beef since I have started grilling using my cheap charcoal grill. I believe that meat cooked over charcoal has much better flavor than cooking with propane grills. I usually throw in a piece of pecan on the coals to give the meat some smoke flavor. The important point here is that Sharon agrees.

Last week, Kroger had Angus sirloin steaks, choice grade, advertised for $4.99 a pound. I thought that sounded like a pretty good price for choice beef. I have decided that select is too tough and that I shouldn't eat prime because of my cholesterol problem, so I look for choice. I stopped by Kroger's and went to the meat department. The regular butcher wasn't there but there was a guy in an apron behind the counter. I saw the sirloin in the meat case at the advertised price, but the label only said it was Angus beef. I asked him to help me pick out the best piece of meat since he should have a lot more knowledge that me in that area. He selected a piece and began wrapping it when I asked him, "now that is choice isn't it?". He replied "no, it's Angus." I said, I didn't ask you the breed of cow, I asked you about the grade of the meat. He went on to tell me that Angus was a grade and the federal meat inspectors in the packing plant would specific that cow as Angus and another cow a select, thus the grade. This is totally contrary to my understanding. I am pretty sure that the inspectors look at the beef AFTER it has been butchered and label it as select, choice or prime depending on the amount of marbling in the meat. The amount of marbling is the best indicator of how tender a piece of meat will be.

Well, I didn't want to tell him he was an idiot and should not be allowed behind the counter. I guess I could have softened it a bit by saying, " don't take this the wrong way, but your a moron". So after a minute of carefully selecting my words, I told him that I spent a lot of time on My Aunt and Uncle's farm as a child. We had both dairy and beef cattle. I have been with my Uncle to several cattle auctions. I never heard of one select cow being auctioned off, nor did I know of any farmer who had a herd of select cows.

I did, however, buy the steaks and leave.

Sunday, February 17, 2008


You make me feel special!

I picked up Joelle from Meg and Danny's wedding rehearsal. Her bedtime is about 7:30 so she couldn't stay for the rehearsal dinner and all the toasts. Joelle and I always have very interesting conversations when we are driving by ourselves. Interesting for me because I am amazed how a five year Princess can ask such deep questions. Somehow, I said something about Christianity, probably relating to Danny and Meg's wedding. She asked what Christian meant. I tried to explain how the Christian religions meant that we were taught to follow the examples set by Jesus Christ, thus the term Christian. I went on to say there were different denominations, like Methodist, Lutheran and Catholic, but they were all based on the teaching of Jesus Christ. I told her there were other religions like Muslims and Hindus that were not based on the teachings of Jesus, as well as the Jewish religion.

She was quite for a minute and than asked, "how old are you Poppy?". I told her that I was 66, soon to be 67. She was quite for another minute and then said, you will probably live to be a 101, and that's a long time. Joelle has a way of making me feel special. I cannot express just how good it make me fell when Joelle spots me when I and not with her. She yells "Poppy" and starts running toward me. It is the inflection in her voice when she yells "Poppy". It is not like "Poppy, what are you doing here?", or "Poppy, are you lost?". It is like "Poppy, I am sooooooo glad to see you!"

Grandchildren make you fell so special. There are not many benefits associated with getting old, but grandchildren is the best one I have found.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Zippidy Do Dah

My oh my what a wonderful week!

WOW, what an experience. Sharon and I are so lucky that our daughter and son-in-law let us tag along. What a wonderful time we had sharing the magic with our 5 year and 1 year old granddaughter. Every day was a new experience. Joelle has grown up so much in two years. She had no fear of the haunted mansion and was not afraid to try anything. We were blessed with 5 days of beautiful weather, cool mornings and warm afternoons. I was lucky to be with Disney vets. Petie and Chris would take all our Disney pass and run to get "fast passes" for hard to get rides. Petie did an amazing job of researching and planning all the details. I will follow with a blog on Miss Disney, Sharon.

I was amazed when Joelle said she wanted to go into the haunted mansion and Jumbo with Poppy. That made me fell so special. I wanted her to go on Big Thunder Mountain with me but she was not tall enough. Big Thunder Mountain is the only roller coaster ride I like because it isn't a high roller coaster with a lot of quick ups and downs, just a lot a sharp banked curves. I told Joelle that they changed the name to Little Thunder Mountain because I tamed it during my ride. I told her that they might call me on the cell phone if it got out of control again after they found out my grandfather was a mountain railroad engineer. I guess that was OK to tell her that. I was even given the chance to be a hero to Joelle. A guy started and ad hoc game while we were at EPCOT. This guy suddenly appeared on the pathway with some bottles half full of sand and some rubber hoops. He said if you could toss the hoop onto the bottle from about 15 feet, you would win a prize. Joelle was frantically throwing the rings without much luck. So I tried, I used to play washers. On my second try, I got a ringer and won Joelle a Tinker Bell pin, the kind you put on the Disney sashes. When the man said we had our first winner, Joelle looked around and saw it was me. She had the biggest smile.

I was great watching Lil' Lisie Bear on It's a Small World ride. It was amazing watching her as she seem to see everything that was going on. She would look to the right, than to the left and even noticed the action going on toward the ceiling. It is wonderful watching her mind working at full speed.

The Dinners were all special. Joelle still loves the Disney Characters and Disney princesses and got all their autographs. Lil' Lise Bear loved them too. She was dressed as the cutest Tinker Belle you have ever seen. She kept grabbing the noses of the characters. One of the dinners was with Cinderella, Prince Charming, the step-mother and her half sisters. It was really entertaining. When Price Charming came to our table, he knelt and asked Joelle where she was from. For the first time I have ever seen, Joelle was speechless. She finally muttered Houston. Prince Charming had totally charmed Joelle.

There was so much going on every day, I cannot type or spell that much. My summary covered it all. Some of my random observations are:

* at least 99% of the people were pleasant and considerate despite the crowded environment. I have found that crowds usually brings out the worst in people.

* LSU tee shirt, jackets and hats outnumber 2 to 1 ever other school combined. We found out that Louisiana had a school holiday that week for Mardi Gras.

* Worst tee shirt label: "FBI, Armed Followers of Jesus". I thought this was a total contradiction of terms.

* Disney runs a first class operation.

* I saw no evidence of an economic downturn. Every theme park was packed with people spending lots of money.

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