Sunday, December 21, 2014

Happy Winter Solstice...

No, this isn't about pagan celebrations.

Tonight is the Winter Solstice - the longest night of the year.  On the bright side, starting tomorrow, we will start gaining a couple minutes a day of daylight.

Living as far south as we do (latitude 26), it isn't unbearable.  When we lived in the frozen northland, it would be dark until close to 8:00 am and start getting dark again around 4:20.  That meant we went to work in the dark, and came home in the dark.  Of course, being retired, and this far south, means that we start to see the daylight just before 7:00 am and sunset is around 5:40... and don't worry about work.  ;-)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The busiest shopping day of the year...

That's what we saw on the news this morning.  Doesn't matter - we weren't planning on going anywhere.

We have had some very nice weather the past couple weeks.  Last night, a cold front moved in... it was 62ยบ when we got up this morning, and didn't change much during the day.  Wind from the north at 15 to 20 mph.  It was a good day for hanging around the house.

By this evening, cabin fever was getting to me, so we made a quick trip to Wally World.  I suggested we swing by there, and if the parking lot was packed, just keep moving on.

The Christmas lights in the promenade median area on the main drag are put up by the city... and they do a nice job.  Lots of palm trees and shrubs, covered with lights.  Very festive looking.

The parking lot at Wal-Mart was as empty as I've seen it in a long time.  Probably no need for this particular WM to stay open 24 hours until Christmas.  Inside, the aisles were blissfully non-populated.  OK, good for us, probably not good for business.  We picked up the couple things that we kinda needed, browsed through the Christmas stuff area (not a lot left), and didn't have to wait in line to check out.  Easy.

We drove back through town, and decided to see what was decorated on South Padre Island.  Not a lot.  Not much traffic.  Some of the restaurants seemed to have good crowds, but the motels that list their price on the signs were still at the low, low price of $29.99.  No doubt, the winter visitors will come rolling in after Christmas.

Small town living.

Friday, December 19, 2014

It's beginning to look a lot like...

Valentine's Day??

Out getting some scooter "tags" again today.  Joan needed to stop at Wal-Mart "for just one thing."  Since were were there anyway, I thought I'd look for some Russell Stover's chocolate covered marshmallow Santas.

Nope.  Not in the candy aisle.

And in the seasonal aisle...

Valentine's Day stuff?  Before Christmas??  I understand getting the "retail jump" and moving in the Christmas stuff around the 4th of July.  But, really, do we need this much of a jump on Valentine's Day???

Not only that, they didn't have any chocolate covered marshmallow hearts... or Cupids... or whatever Russell Stover's is pushing for V-D.  Yeah, they probably don't call it that, huh?


It isn't a job, it's an adventure...

Going to the store.

Joan suggested we go out for breakfast; I'm always up for that.  After breakfast, it was off to HEB (Texas grocery store chain).  I was in charge of the list... an awesome responsibility.  She goes to the store to shop - I'm along for the lookin'.  Around here, there is always something that I can't identify.

"What's that?"

I'm sure I sound like a little kid.  I'm at that "curious stage" - old enough to have been around the block a time or twelve.  Old enough that I don't really give a furry rat's rear what someone passing by thinks when I ask the Blonde, "What is this?"

Those little round things in the middle of this image are tejocotes... at one time, the most common smuggled fruit.  Smuggled, because these were forbidden for import to the US due to "exotic insect pests."  South of the border, the tejocotes (a crab-apple like fruit) is an indispensable ingredient in ponche, a hot punch that is popular around the holidays in Mexico.

Or how about a nice chunk of sugar cane stalk?

The bin with the red bow?  Yep, piloncillo, a tasty cone of raw sugar cane.

Sound like a sugar overdose?  Not much different from eating candy corn.  (Which doesn't appeal to me, either.)

My favorite part of shopping, though, is the people-watching.  I'm not trying to make this a "people of Wal-Mart" bingo game, but my favorite today was the 70 year old woman (my guess) wearing the "official Keg Stand shirt" t-shirt...

Not being snarky, but hers did not appear this trim.  You have to appreciate the sense of humor, though.  Let me help create the mental image: an old woman standing on her hands to chug down beer from a keg.  Not enough to make you spit-take your beer?  Imagine those 36 longs hanging out the top of the... ohhhhhhhh.

Taking a short-cut from the back corner of the store to the check stands, we passed by the baby items.  I was unaware of the brand called NUK.  And a pacifier called a Nuk-Nuk.  When did we do away with "binky"?  Then, Joan had to tell me how she and Steph laughed so hard when the subject of me remarrying... a younger woman... and having another kid.  Which generally leads to the Blonde getting ticked at me for remarrying.  I nipped that in the bud by asking, "If I get remarried and have another kid, would that make you the Grandma or the Aunt or what?"

"It doesn't make me anything - don't even think about me watching your kid!"

I have no idea how these conversations get rolling.  Or how I wind up being in trouble for a weird imagined situation.

Pretty sure I'm back on "the Naughy List" again, though.

I love shopping.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


No, not twerking.  I tried that once... hurt my back.

My carbon fiber guitar was making a "twanging" sound on a couple of the frets last week.  Oh, I know what you're thinking: "Nothing to fret about."  Do you get any funnier?

I had recently put new strings on the guitar.  Even so, I took off the offending string and replaced it with another.  That seemed to take care of the twang.  Until this morning... I got the guitar down, played a chord, and the twang was back.  I swapped out guitars and kept playing, keeping in mind that I needed to do something with the first one.

After lunch, I went to work on the carbon fiber guitar.  It has been more humid than normal for this time of year, but the carbon fiber isn't affected by that.  I checked the neck relief, and it seems normal.  Even though the carbon fiber "should never need a neck adjustment" (quote from the manufacturer), I decided to tweak the neck...

Not a big deal.  With my wood guitars, they sometimes require a small tweak with the change of season or climate.  The CF neck hasn't moved, going from the Pacific Northwest to the desert of Arizona, to the Gulf Coast, and all around again.  I adjusted the neck a bit and tried it... better, but the twang wasn't completely gone.  A bit more tweak.  Better.  A bit more.  I was concerned that I might go too far... nahhh.  Finally, the twang was gone.  I will never make in the country music biz.  ;-)

Yes, the island in our kitchen is a good height for guitar work.

A little Christmas song...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tag - you're it...

It turned out to be a windy day here... I was surprised when Joan came home from a run to the Post Office and said, "Do you want to take the scoots for lunch?  I'm feeling like a burger."

Easy choice for me: I'm almost always up for a scooter ride, and burgers are one of my four main food groups (the other three being pizza, BBQ, and bacon).

It was blowing 15 to 20 as we went across the causeway - and you feel that on the scoots.  Not bad, just the occasional lean-into-the-wind-gust moment.

As long as we were out on the scoots, I took the opportunity to try for the next scooter "tag"... the last thing tagged was your scooter with Christmas decorations.  No not decorations ON the scooter, decorations in the background... or the foreground.  Something Christmas-y.  I knew that would be an easy tag...

The lower photo has Christmas characters on palm trees - the tree in the middle are holding letters that spell out "JOY."  I'm particularly fond of the pink flamingo on the right, with the Santa hat.

LOTS of options.  One was a menorah, but it wasn't close to the road.  Then, I'm sure I'd have to post something with Kwanza candles or a Festivus pole... just to stay politically correct.

Then, if you get the latest "tag," you have to post another photo with the next tag.  I considered using this shot from the Coast Guard station on South Padre Island...

Joan stayed back a long ways while I got this shot... pretty sure I saw the camera at the gate following my every move.  I considered this...

I reconsidered, since there are people from all over the country in on this... and, really, finding a tiki hut may be hard to come by in the frozen northland.  ;-)

I like to pick tags that are easy for people to get - it keeps the game moving.


Your scoot by RVs.  Easy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A link to some tunes...

Recorded directly into the little mic on the iPad Mini...

For my Honey.