Thursday, May 29, 2008

Geezers Summer Reminisce

This morning, my sister sent me one of those “forward to everyone in your age group” emails. There were the general references recognized by everyone in the geezer demographic. “Remember, back before cell phones and Nintendo and cable TV and 24 hour news coverage…staying out till the streetlights came on, your parents yelling for you to come home after dark…” , et al.

I responded with some of our personal experiences from pre-geezer days, and she evoked some really good memories. So what follows is my own little list that we assembled in about 10 minutes and four emails.

You are not obligated to send this to your friends. And there’s no Frankie Valle music in the background. Just our memories.

Your reminisces may vary.

It made me recall:
Campfires in the back yard, and giant four-foot-deep holes you got to dig, and dirt clod fights and making Greg, Kelvin and Timmy pee themselves with a cardboard skeleton...GranMommy eating two bananas (broken) for each one that I ate...”Whap whap whap what’d he do?”...frying ants and pillbugs with Grandaddy’s magnifying glass, the rectangular one with a long screw for a handle...carving up refrigerator boxes with GranDaddy’s pocket knife!

She replied:
GranMommy making hamburger forgetting to put meat on it...and popping popcorn in a skillet without a lid…the sound of the wind whistling through the screens upstairs...the smell of Monsanto's benzene whatever wafting thru the morning breeze...the sound of kitties meowing under the house…the smell of freshly cut grass and cape jasmine bush on the east side of the house.

Which set me to:
I don't care how hot it was wearing the coats, paddling a trailered boat across the burnt lawn! We were somewhere else, anyhow. How awesome was it to lie on that slick concrete of the breezeway to get cool? Oh, and the smell of old, OLD grease and dirt in the garage...the cannas and mimosa behind the garage, the oleanders as a hiding place (don’t put those in your mouth, they’re poison and they’ll kill you)...

And of course she HAD to add:
“And get yore finger stuck in the concrete!” This is a very NOT funny story that I will relate in a (much) later GeezerChron.

OK, back to work, but I’ll remember this stuff long after I forget what I had for breakfast or what I stood up and walked into the hallway for.

Thanks Sis, that was fun!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Bad Day Fishing...

...Is better than a good day working. That’s the old saying. It’s true. I went on a fishing expedition Sunday evening and confirmed it, even though I was not otherwise required to be at work. Partly because it was Sunday, but mainly because I have a week of vacation coming up.

I decided at about 5:30 p.m. that I was going, and by 6:30 I was on my way down Highway 6 to my super-secret fishing spot. Not that it’s all that secret; there are only about 4 people who go down there at all, my Dad being one of them. It is a great spot, but most people have boats and like to skipper them around, whereas I just like to wade and fish. I have no boat, save for the ones at the end of my ankles.

As I decided to make the trip, part of the decision was based on the lack of the strong wind we have been experiencing the past few weeks. At our house, there was a slight breath of a mostly North wind. With evening coming on, that would only die down and likely make for a glassy smooth bayou. The commute to the spot progressed and as I made my way down Highway 6, I noticed the trees along about Hitchcock began showing signs of a strong Southerly breeze. Undeterred, I stayed the course to my destination.

The evening was turning out beautiful, save for that wind which only increased as I neared the water. Typically, when the wind is up, the fish are down, but stranger things have happened. Once I caught a flounder in a wind so strong, that when I landed it, the wind had it turned inside out by the time I got it off of the hook. I pressed on, persistent as a cat hair on a grilled cheese sandwich.

I walked up over the levee from where I parked, and I noted the gale blowing out of the Southerly direction, with hardly a cloud in the sky. The waves were kicking up and in the bigger part of the flats, there were a couple of whitecaps. As I peered down from the top of the hill, I noticed among the waves, there were some birds working on the North side of the flats. That was a good sign.

I was watching the sun make the rapid slip down to the horizon. I could smell the water, and I got to watch a big brown pelican make some lazy circles over me, scanning the shallow water for a snack before going to roost. The pelican, not me. There were terns and black headed gulls hovering and diving for small mullet. As I walked through the water, shrimp skipped ahead of me. The setting sun made the colors so warm, and the breeze was so cool. I began to care less and less if a big redfish or flounder decided to take my offered bait or not.

Not that I didn’t WANT to catch a fish, it’s just that the overall experience was taking on a completely different purpose. There was a family across the bayou, approximately a half-mile away, were firing up the grill for dinner. Birds were flying overhead to their evening roosts. All of the shorebirds were headed for the islands and marshes. The blackbirds and starlings were headed to the trees over the levee toward I-45.

Being out on the water, with the wind blowing as it was, I was somewhat removed from the Gulf Freeway which was only about a mile and a half away. It reminded of its presence only when a Harley with straight pipes or a high powered Honda with a coffee can for an exhaust would pass, bound for Galveston under full steam. The occasional semi truck under a heavy load accelerating for the overpass sounded off to remind me of where I was on the map.

After one particularly difficult cast, I found the limits of the magnetic brake when casting across the wind. A birdnest the size of a hawk’s homestead appeared from the interior of the new reel. I worked for about 15 minutes to extricate the overrun. The sun slipped toward Highland Bayou Park and I whipped out the pocketknife. Even with the blade, I needed a couple of minutes to perform the surgery and re-fit the bait. Then, back to my quest to the corner where I have caught so many reds and flounder in the past.

At about ten minutes till eight, the wind laid down a bit. Now the magic was beginning to happen; all my casts were on target and the air was just right. I turned back to the East to check for “throwback fish” and saw a sight that surprised me enough to cause me to make a slight sound of alarm. It was the moon rising from Galveston.

It was glowing like a giant pearl on a lavender-to-pink-to-deep blue background. I was surprised because I had no idea where the moon was in its phase. The fact that it was just nearly full (mere hours, it seemed) caught me completely by surprise.

As the sun settled into the salt grass, I headed to the exit to go ahead and move back to the car. I made a couple of final casts and lo and behold, a tiny trout took my bait. It was not much of a fight, but a fish on the line is a fish on the line. I brought him to hand and removed the hook and got the obligatory haze of fish slime on my paw. After I released him, I sniffed the slime that was left behind. It was fresh and clean and fishy, the smell of success in the hunt.

Being near the “jumping off point” I waded through the reeds and deep shoreline mud. The smell of decaying plant matter bubbled up alongside my feet as I made my way to the broken concrete at the edge of the grass. Ascending the side of the levee, I secured my net and fishing rod, and reveled in the evening. The smell of the grass was comforting, as was the aroma of the water and saltgrass, the smelly mud I had just trudged through and the light scent of the grill from across the water.

I have a good friend who can’t fathom what hold the Gulf Coast has on me. He would flee to the Hill Country at the drop of a hat, and he would drop the hat. I tell him that this place is in my blood. The sights, the smells and the sounds of the coast have all come together and made the giant eleven-year-old that you have all come to know. Now you know the reason that the smell of skunk does not offend me; the olfactory assault of rotten mud does not repulse me. Fish slime is a reassurance.

Geezers are not born, they are made. Call me strange, call me weird, but that’s what makes me the best geezer I can be.

Oh, and just so you know, there is no "bad day fishing."

Monday, May 19, 2008

Don't Despair

...Yeah, like the lack of a GeezerChron would be cause for widespread depression...

Anyhow, I have a new one in the works. I just need to finish it and post it...that's just a step away from THINKING of it and writing it, right?

I DO have a lot of older stuff that a lot of you haven't seen as yet. So browse thru the archives and wait like good boyz and grills.

Thanks for your patience.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Leaf Us Alone

My GranDaddy was a taciturn man. When he spoke, he meant to be heard. He thought a lot, he read a lot, and only uttered words when they would have an impact. Subtle impact was acceptable in his book. As a matter of fact, his humor was subtle and dry. And very effective.

My Mother recently re-told me the tale of GranDaddy running the lady off from their camp. The story goes that they were camping at some lake quite a number of years ago. There was a gregarious woman at a nearby encampment who felt welcome at their site.

She apparently spent quite a bit of time there, and since too much empty talk (especially by an interloping stranger) tended to get on GranDaddy’s nerves, he went down to the lake to swim. After a time, he was ready to come back to camp, and saw that the friendly neighbor was there still.

His remedy for that was to go back down to the lake and pick one of the giant-sized water lily leaves. This he brought back up to the edge of the bivouac area, holding it in front of himself at waist level.
He raised his voice (a rare occurrence) and asked if someone could go bring him some pants, since he lost his swimsuit in the lake.

Their new “friend” looked and saw him standing there dripping, holding a giant leaf as a garment, as far as she knew. Her immediate reaction was to vacate the vicinity.

The family rolled with laughter following her departure when he finally dropped the leaf to reveal that he had not indeed lost his suit.

But he had succeeded in losing the uninvited guest.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Happy Birthday, Andy!

There is a young man in San Marcos right now who is celebrating his 21st birthday today. I have known him for every one of those years.

He is what people describe as a "miracle baby". When he was but a few days old, he contracted meningitis, rode in a Life Flight helicopter and spent some time in a hospital. It was touch-and-go for awhile, but as you can guess, he made it from being a tiny, helpless little baby, to a large, likable and intelligent young man. He's well over six feet tall and exhibits no evidence of his tentative beginning.

But it's not just his physical being that is imposing and strong, his spirit is perhaps bigger than his body. He's not one of those hammerheads that is going to go out and get drunk on his 21st birthday "WOO HOOOO!Cuz I finally can cuz I'm legal". He's smart.

He has worked his guts out at HEB and school work at Texas State University, and will no doubt make his family proud in his chosen profession.

But then, he already has!

Happy Birthday, Andrew!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Sad News

Big Toe put in an emergency call to me this weekend, with some sad and disturbing news: The Naked Rib is no more.

It is now called Sekula's BBQ, and that's all she knows. A slight face-lift was noticed from the road: red and white checkered table cloths on the outside tables.

Still to be determined is the bill of fare, specifically, do they still use that superior BBQ sauce, and is there still a brisket pie.

Of course, if the above items remain intact, I don't care if they call it Ali Baba's 40 Thieves Cafe.

There will be an update on this situation.