Growing up in a private gated community like Lake Kiowa did have it’s advantages, not the least of which was being able to ride motorcycles and golf carts anywhere we wished as youngsters (mostly within reason). I drove our golf cart freely from about the age of eight, and by the age of twelve I had graduated to a motorcycle as primary transport.
I loved my motorcycle. It was my gateway to excitement, my very portal to the world. In the Summertime I woke up, ate, did my chores, and jumped on my bike. I was often gone until well after dark, as there was much to do- hit some trails, cruise the beaches (often stopping for a swim, especially if girls were present), and look for my friends and something fun to get into. That’s a whole other blog, so I’ll get back on point….
In the Summer, Lake Kiowa often had many visitors from out of town visiting relatives who lived there. Many of these visitors were pretty girls my age, and some of these girls rode around the lake on golf carts, mopeds and motorcycles. I learned early on that the motorcycle was a great introductory tool, so I would often just cruise the lake looking for just these morsels… er, I mean girls! This proved a successsful tactic for many years, and I met many beautiful young ladies and had many a Summer romance as a result. Again, a whole other blog…
Not every girl I met was a Summer romance, in fact one of the first girls I met this way was a new permanent resident, and she is the subject of this blog. Sort of…
One day while cruising I passed a pretty blond girl about my age on a lime green Honda Mini-Trail 70. I did my usual “make a block and circle” trick to passs her again and she was gone! I hit the throttle and raced through every neighborhood to no avail… she either garaged it or lost me. First time that trick ever failed.
I passed her again another day, and I waved at her… she gave back a shy wave and smiled ear to ear. Oh yeah! This time I hit the bar ditch like a berm, blowing dirt and gravel as I grabbed throttle and spun right around to catch her- she disappeared over the hill like the proverbial bat-outta-hell. This girl was shy… and she was FAST! I liked both of these attributes…
I was an experienced, good rider who knew these roads and trails like my hand and I could not catch this girl without taxing every skill I had! And when I did catch up with her, I could never get her to stop and meet me! This went on all Summer… I would ride until I found her, chase her all day, and she would always get away somehow. The cute blond who got away… I figured since the end of Summer came that she was gone forever- not knowing her or having seen her before this Summer, I simply assumed she was a visitor and had long gone back to Nebraskahoma or Kansasota and forgotten her two wheeled, bug-toothed suitor.
Marking the end of OUR Summer, the first day of school arrived as it does and the school bus was making it’s usual round of the lake picking up all the shiny, new, fresh-faced school kids. Eventually the bus stopped at my house and I boarded just like any other first day, scoping the rows for new faces and a cool place to sit…. then I saw her face. The cute blond with the dimples on the green Honda Mini-Trail bike that I had spent all Summer chasing! Seeing her without wearing her helmet and all prettied up for school made my heart leap right out of my throat- I literally could not speak! She was freaking out as well upon seeing and recognizing me as her ALL SUMMER LONG suitor, which in retrospect was pretty awesome- though it scared the shit of me! We were both too freaked out, suddenly in forced proximity after all that chasing to even speak to each other, until mutual friends mercifully intervened and introduced us. So this was love. All those songs were right. WHAM!
We spent every available moment with each other. We most especially rode dirt bikes together, and she stayed with me on every trail at every speed through jumps, puddles, hills, berms, and canyons! We jumped, splashed, slid, climbed, and raced. We challenged each other at every turn and pushed each either to go further and try new things. We parked, rested and kissed until our lips bled. Literally! At twelve years old that’s pretty much “rounding the bases”. So that’s what we did for pretty good while- rode dirt bikes and kissed, from sunup to sundown on many days.
Dirt biking and making out with a beautiful girl. Man, what great times those were.
When I was a kid we all rode dirt bikes. On some lucky weekends, my friend’s dad would load us all up on his trailer and take us to Bulcher, TX on the Red River outside of Muenster. Back then, we all called it “Bulcher” but nowadays it’s called Red River Cycle Ranch and it’s about two hours north of the DFW Metroplex.
Some of my friends had real dirt bikes, but many like me rode dual-purpose street/ dirt bikes because our bikes also served as our primary transport. I had a 1977 Model Yamaha DT100 at the time, and while it was quite torquey and very light, I was always very envious of my friends who had real dirt bikes- the brute power, and functional suspension!
One weekend we were on such a ride when my friends on “real dirt bikes” decided to run off and leave me. My DT100 could not keep up with motocrossers. So I’m off riding trails alone when a kid on a Honda MR175 starts following me. I’m ridng as fast and hard as I can through the nastiest trails I can find and handle, and this guy is right on my ass. Of course, I know I can’t shake someone on a MR175! That bike can eat mine. The fact I loved MR175’s and wanted one did not help matters any. This punk is nudging my ass on one of my dream bikes! After rat-racing around like this for an hour or so, I was tired so I decided to head back to camp.
The MR175 followed me back to camp! I parked my bike, got off, and removed my helmet. The MR175 rider had parked right behind me and did the same. I was utterly dumbfounded. MR175 rider was a GIRL! Not just a girl, but a girl about my age with long strawberry blonde hair, big blue eyes, dimples, and the cutest little freckles… I could not inhale. I stood there frozen like a dweeb lollipop. My heart was pressing against my eyes and every time it beat I thought they would pop out.
She smiled and said “Hi- nice bike.”
Without thinking I blurted “Not as nice as yours!”
Those blue-gem eyes sparkled and rolled.. “Oh… my dad got me this. I don’t like it, it’s too big. It scares me.”
“Not me! Wanna trade?” I asked. I was serious.
She laughed and said she would but her dad would kill her. I agreed that my dad would kill me as well. We laughed and chatted- I said lots of stupid stuff as usual but she didn’t seem to mind. She was as cool as she was cute! At thirteen years old this situation was way beyond my ability to maximize or capitalize on it- and as such she got away without me even asking for her phone number or any contact information! Gone! A fact I realized as she crossed out of sight down the trail, never to be seen again except in occasional dreams.
She was a decent rider- cool, beautiful, and riding an Elsinore. She was the first one that got away. Both of them.
Soichiro Honda hates two stroke motors- he makes that fact very clear. But he was a very savvy business man who, at the advice of his son and other trusted advisors, decided to to enter the growing lightweight MX dirt bike market with a purpose-built series of dirt bikes with two-stroke motors called the ELSINORE’s- named after the famous annual MX/ Rally in California.
In 1973 the CR125M Elsinore hit the showroom floors and the racetracks like an atomic bomb. These bikes were powerful, fast, light and relatively CHEAP! The giant USA market gbbbled these bikes like a puppy on bacon. Honda enjoyed immense success on all fronts. Then they sat on their asses for three years. Back then you could do that… at that exact time… and almost get away with it. Good for them that the CR125M was so far ahead of it’s time and so well designed and built that it remained in the winners circles even when it’s design became dated. In 1975 Suzuki and Yamaha were offering true long travel suspension technology while Honda just pushed their shocks forward. Again, it was a well designed, well made machine- it was just starting to get passed in the technology department in 1975.
In 1976 Honda introduced an all-new redesigned CR125M Elsinore with long travel suspension front and rear, light weight, great handling and a decent motor. It firmly matched it’s competition peformance-wise, but still sported the down-pipe which technology had replaced with the upswept-pipe in 1976. Nevertheless, the bike proved a capable and popular performer so Honda SAT ON THEIR ASS again. The 1976 design, which was just barely up to 1976 standards, was kept through 1978. In this competitive era, manufacturers were retooling and redesigning machines every other year- not every three years. From 1976 to 1978 model years saw HUGE technological leaps in every aspect of offroad motorcycles- suspension went from cobby 5″ travel systems to excellent 10″ travel systems just for one example.
In 1979 Honda introduced the all new CR125R, the little brother to 1978’s stellar CR250R Red Rocket. It was creepy looking- like nothing was designed to fit together. Too lanky, too tall, spongy handling, and somewhat slow… Like the others, it was well built, it just didn’t work that well, stock. A few mods and it was a freaking rocket though! That fact, along with the fact that it was a long awaited Elsinore made it still a relatively popular bike and it’s very popular today as a restoration/ vintage racer project.
Honda learned the lesson of complacency, and in 1980 they fixed the issues and updated the little CR125R into a mighty fine production racer and they have remained pretty much in the hunt ever since.
The day after Thanksgiving and Christmas meant one thing to me growing up: CREAMED TURKEY ON TOAST! This was one of my Dad’s few signature dishes and it was my favorite. Leftover turkey and boiled eggs, chopped up and blended in a thick white gravy poured copiously over chunks of toasted bread. I could eat my weight in this stuff! It was one of the few foods that really excited me as a kid, and I mean FEW. I loved this stuff so much that I wanted it all the time, not just on post-holidays, and I pestered my Mom endlessly about it. My Mom’s response to this course of abuse was to introduce me to the dish that would become my favorite breakfast of all time: SHIT ON A SHINGLE! Of course, she called it Creamed Chipped Beef on Toast, and it was many years before I learned it by the SOS moniker.
SOS was love at first bite for me. The saltiness of the dried beef gave this dish a lot more zip than the old Creamed Turkey, and slopped on slabs of toast and topped with a generous dusting of fresh cracked black pepper, well, quite frankly it was the most perfect breakfast food ever created.
Here’s a little of what I’ve learned over the years about Creamed Chipped Beef:
The dish first appeared in the military universe in the 1910 edition of the “Manual for Army Cooks.” It was beef stock and evaporated milk thickened with a roux, seasoned with parsley and pepper. The chipped beef was added just before serving, so that the salty taste of it didn’t overly dominate the sauce. By the 1940s, the sauce recipe had become thicker, and the parsley was dropped. Army cooks, even though not directed to do so by the recipes, would apparently often soak the beef overnight in water to leach some of the excess salt out. It was a dish made with ingredients that didn’t require refrigeration and didn’t easily spoil, and therefore was simple to transport and prepare anywhere and anytime. A solid charge of fat and carbs to fuel some mighty fine killin’ or latrine diggin’ machines.
In the American Navy, they called Creamed Chipped Beef “Creamed Foreskins on Toast” (aka CFSOT, pronounced “sif-sot”) or just “Foreskins on Toast (aka “FOT”). Don’t ask what’s for breakfast and I won’t tell you? The American navy also tended instead to use the term “Shit on a Shingle” for a minced or ground beef and tomato sauce with onion and nutmeg in it, served over toast. The sauce would be thickened with flour or cornstarch. I haven’t tried this one yet, and I’m not so sure I will.
Some people make a version using a can of cream of mushroom soup as the sauce, adding only part of the milk that the soup called for, then adding the chopped dried beef bits. This version just doesn’t quite match the texture of the original, but it will do in a pinch. Canned soup tends to be salty by itself, and combining the dried beef with it really kicks up the sodium content!
Creamed Chipped Beef was also served at school cafeterias, or so I have read. It was never served in any of mine. I’ve also read it’s a staple breakfast item in many restaurants, though I have yet to find one that serves it. Some restaurants advertise SOS, but it’s just extra thick sausage gravy. Sausage gravy is NOT SOS. Sorry.
Beginning in the late 1960s, some parts of the US military began to use hamburger as well for the dish that people called “Shit on a Shingle.” The army version with ground beef with a cream sauce, made from evaporated milk and beef stock thickened in a roux. You fried the ground beef, drained excess fat, stirred flour into the ground beef, letting its fat interact with the flour to make the roux, and then made the sauce from there, either with evaporated milk or reconstituted powdered milk.
Emeril LaGasse makes it with beef pot roast, shredded, and served in thick brown gravy with wine and sauteed onions and mushrooms. It’s hard to call that Shit on a Shingle, just sayin’.
I make two versions, depending on how fast I want it. The good way, the method Mom taught me, was to make a thick bechamel- equal parts butter or margarine and flour, fried until the flour just starts to cook then thinned with milk to the desired consistency. The quickie version is to heat the milk until almost boiling, then thicken to desired consistency with a paste made of cornstarch and cold milk. Either way I add the beef early in the process to cook the salt out into the sauce. I like lots of fresh cracked pepper and sometimes even a dash of Cajun seasoning in mine. If I am making it for others I will usually add a couple of chopped up boiled eggs to the mixture to extend it further and make it heartier. I’ve even added canned mushrooms a time or two.
In this day and age of healthy, low fat, low carb foods, SOS seems a bit out of place. It’s high in fat, sodium, and carbohydrates. It’s also damned tasty!
My father passed away recently. He had a good death just like he had a good life. It wasn’t a sad event, I’m not sure a single tear was shed by anyone. That’s not a bad thing, probably because it was all so natural, so textbook, and so peaceful. I hesitate to use a word like joyous to describe his passing because I don’t want to give the appearance that I’m happy he’s gone- I’m just glad he went the way he wanted. For about the last decade he talked about “going belly up” (using his vernacular), so he was ready when the time actually came. I pray my passing is as dignified and peaceful.
My relationship with my dad was a classic love-hate thing. Physically he more than fulfilled his duties, bailing me out time and again monetarily and more than providing for our needs. Spiritually and morally he was oddly complex, and as he excelled in some areas he was an equally dismal failure in others. Quick to anger, deeply opinionated (with often the wrong opinion) and highly calloused he caused damage everywhere he went. I firmly believe that God sent my Mom into my Dad’s life so that her deep spiritual grace and maturity would offset his assininity and perhaps even save his life. Without her to balance him out, someone would have killed him young. I can’t say I never fantasized my hands locked on his throat. He pushed it that far.
My father could be a very charming man with the females. He was a well practiced and natural flirt, and he seemed to have a real knack for pushing the female buttons. He loved girls and they loved him back. The one biggest redeeming factor for my Dad is how he treated Mom. He always made her feel special, and they shared an amazingly deep love for one another. He lavished gifts on my Mom and the few other girls in our family. I know he was deeply disappointed to have never had a girl, and I am reasonably certain that the disdain he seemed to have had for me since birth could likely stem from me simply being born a boy. Dad was pissed off at me before I left the womb and it seems I never had a chance to do anything but make him madder and madder at me with each passing year. He died with the same low opinion of me, but that’s his problem, not mine.
You see, my anger and resentment toward my father ate at me for years. A life-crippling anger and deadly resentment coupled with deep unforgiveness. It very nearly took my life! I had a spiritual crash, perhaps a nervous breakdown as well, and self-medicated to the nines with alcohol and other pharmaceuticals. Totally broken, I checked into The Salvation Army, got clean, got Christ, and learned how to shed some baggage. In my spiritual rebirth I soon discovered that the angst I harbored for my dad was something I had to deal with. I prayed to God time and again, and in my perseverance He granted me the grace to see my dad as just a man, just like me, who makes mistakes just like me. I forgave him his trespasses, in fact I forgave him literally face-to-face and he responded by berating me and calling me a fool! I laughed at him. I laughed at him! You have no idea how good it felt to rise above him and laugh. He no longer had the power to hurt me, all it took was true forgiveness.
I still have to forgive him every single day, even after his death because he still lives between my ears and he still trespasses on me, even from the grave. It is all well with my soul though, and may The Lord have mercy on Dad’s soul. Truly, that is my prayer, that God forgave him as well and once and for all made him accountable for all of his deeds and misdeeds.
It’s blustery, grey, wet and cold (well, by Texas standards anyway), and I have a big ol’ hunk of leftover roast beef that must be used for something other than the umpteenth sandwich (as good as the sandwiches were). I decided to make ENCHILADAS out of it! Here’s how I went about it:
First I took that roughly 2.5 lb hunk o’ beef and cut into manageable hunks, then chucked ’em into the old trusty-dusty Cuisinart and made a big ol’ bowl of beef dust. Seriously- check out the pix!
Then I took a nice big fresh jalapeno pepper and a coupla nice little onions fresh from our garden and treated them to the same Cuisinart annihilation. I then fried this mixture up with a coupla cloves of fresh minced garlic in a large deep skillet with fresh olive oil. In gotta tell ya, the fumes comin’ off that skillet almost required me to file an Environmental Impact Statement… well they did bring tears to my eyes! Seriously, only fry onions and jalapenos with adequate ventilation.
Where’s the beef?? HERE’S the beef! I chucked the beef into the skillet with the onion mixture, one can o’ chicken broth, one small can o’ tomato sauce, about three tablespoons of good chili powder, one tablespoon of cumin, a shot o’ rubbed sage, garlic salt and onion salt, and a packet of Sazon Goya con Azafran. I brought it to a boil, reduced heat and simmered about an hour, then let it cool. If we had any neighbors closer than 100 yards they’d a come knockin’ if they smelled this cookin’.
Now the sauce… my basic red enchilada sauce starts (naturally) with about three cups of Texas Red Chili (recipe in another blog here, or you could use a can of your favorite storebought crap in a pinch), mixed with one can of Rotel tomatoes and an equal size can of tomato sauce (sorry, I don’t really measure when I cook). Combine in a sauce pan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about twenty minutes. Remove from heat. (Depending on the chili you use, additional spices may be required to taste).
White corn tortillas are what I used to wrap this batch, sprayed with cooking spray and heated on a cast iron griddle to soften them up. I plop some of the meat mixture on the tortilla, sprinkle a bit of cheddar cheese, then roll it up. I pack ’em into a greased casserole dish, spoon on the red sauce until they’re thoroughly immersed, then sprinkle on some shredded colby-jack cheese. Slide that dish into a 350 degree oven and wait until the cheese melts.
These things are so good your mama would shave her legs just to eat ’em!
When I cook up a batch of good ol’ Texas Red, I always make lots of extra, which I use in a variety of ways- chili dogs, chili burgers, frito pies, nachos, you name it; and while a big steaming bowl of Texas Red Chili is fabulous all by itself, sometimes I want a bowl of chili that is a little heartier, like a whole three course meal in a bowl. I scratch that itch by making what I call STUFFED CHILI, and here’s how I do it:
First I grab up one good sized onion and about four fresh jalapenos- I dice ’em up and chuck ’em in a pot with some olive oil. While they fry on medium heat, I dice up a nice big fresh red tomato and chuck it in there with ’em. When the onions soften up a bit, I drain a can of corn and a can of beans (kidney, pinto, whatever) and chuck them in there and let it all cook together for a few minutes.
Then, the fabulous Texas Red (recipe in another blog here) is added, about a quart or so will do just fine. Cover that pot, reduce heat and simmer about a half hour.
Serve it up just as you would chili or stew. I tell ya, a big ol’ bowl of this stuff will satisfy the biggest, meanest appetite… and it’s a pretty damned healthy meal to boot.
If you ever find yourself in British Columbia cruising South from the Mud Bay/ Deep Bay area on Island Highway West, you may want stop off at Qualicum Beach and treat yourself to the unique opportunity to wrestle with Russell the One-Eyed Mussel. Oh you may laugh, but the tenacious mollusk has an undefeated record of 28-0! Owner/ Trainer Sherman McWurmer is quick to warn “If ya get in there with Russell, be ready for a tussle!”
Russell’s last match was with a drunken young college student who was forced to face off against the mighty mollusk as part of his fraternity pledge. Russel had his way with the guy in less than four minutes. The young man was so shamed by the defeat that he’s been holed up in a closet ever since, and refuses to come out. He won’t take food or water, but has gone through 3 lbs. of salve. “Russell has that effect” explains Mr. McWurmer “He’ll either put’cha in the closet, or he’ll bring ya right out of it.”
As we were talking, Russell was in the ring practicing, and I must say he did look formidable- sliding, compressing, extending and snapping. He actually appeared to get bigger as the activity increased. I asked Sherman about that.
“Oh yeah! When he gets really excited he can double in size! He pulses, he throbs, and sometimes right at the end of a match he’ll turn purple with rage and spit on his opponent as a sign of dominance.”
He offered to let me go a round with Russell, but I declined. He even offered me a stick of butter, but I had to get back on the road. As Qualicum Beach faded out of my rear view mirror, I felt strangely inadequate after having met Russell the One-Eyed Mussel.
What follows is an apt rant from my good friend Arthur “Scooter” Smith, a veteran and an all around good guy who tells it like it is…
I think this is a clear description of what is happening in the United States.
Class war at its best.
The folks who are getting the free shit, don’t like the folks who are paying for the free shit,because the folks who are paying for the free shit, can no longer afford to pay for both the free shit and their own shit,
The folks who are paying for the free shit,want the free shit to stop.and the the folks who are getting the free shit,want even more free shit on top of the free shit they are already getting!
Now… The people who are forcing the people who Pay for the free shit,have told the people who are RECEIVING the free shit,that the people who are PAYING for the free shit, are being mean, prejudiced, and racist.
So… the people who are GETTING the free shit, have been convinced they need to hate the people who are paying for the free shit, by the people who are forcing some people to pay for their free shit, and giving them the free shit in the first place.
We have let the free shit giving go on for so long that there are Now more people getting free shit than paying for the free shit.
Now understand this. All great democracies have committed financial suicide somewhere between 200 and 250 years after being founded. The reason? The voters figured out they could vote themselves money from the treasury by electing people who promised to give them money from the treasury in exchange for electing them.The United States officially became a Republic in 1776, 231 years ago. The number of people now getting free shit outnumbers the people paying for the free shit. We have one chance to change that in 2012. Failure to change that spells the end of the United States as we know it.
ELECTION 2012 IS COMING
A Nation of Sheep Breeds a Government of Wolves!
I’M 100% for PASSING THIS ON!!!
Let’s Take a Stand!!!
Language: English only
Culture: Constitution, and the Bill of Rights!
Drug Free: Mandatory Drug Screening before Welfare!
NO freebies to: Non-Citizens!
We the people are coming!!
Why bother teaching history to children? Ancient history to a child is what they had for breakfast. It’s not their fault, they just have no sense of perspective or scale, which is something that can only be instilled with the passage of their own time. As such, why bother trying to teach them history at all before the high school level? Their attention spans could be much better served with contemporary fields of study, the three “R’s” as we called them- Reading, Riting, Rithmatic. Hang on- I am coming to a point…
I had no use for history as a youngster, though I have developed a keen interest for it as an adult, especially local history. As a teenager growing up in and around Gainesville Texas, I had no idea of the area’s history nor did I care. But in the years since, I have discovered much to be discovered about what I once thought was a boring hick town. I have also found that I was inadvertently involved with one of the town’s founding families in one way or another and through various and curious channels, naturally unbeknownst to me at the time. I’ll get back to them shortly.
Gainesville has an amazing and varied history. The seat of Cooke County and nine miles from the Red River, it was a center of commerce and controversy at the turn of the century. The Butterfield Stagecoach line had a stop there, not to mention the railroad and the Chisolm Trail. In the early years, raids from Kiowa and Comanche Indians weren’t uncommon. It was a tough place hewn by tough people.
The Civil War brought a uniquely dark occurrence to Gainesville, as it was the sight of the greatest mass execution of the Civil War. The Great Gainesville Civil War Hanging of 1862 has loomed as a dark spectre over Gainesville and Cooke County since it’s occurrence, with many families still hesitant to speak of it or share their opinions on the matternto this day. Only in recent years have books begun to be published and memoirs once held highly private are being shared in the light of day. The number of men hanged that day (actually over a period of several days) is a matter of conjecture, though the number souls is right around one hundred- most of whom were innocent of the charges trumped up against them. Personal grudges, mob mentality, subterfuge, political espionage, and outright murder for it’s own sake all factored in to the dark event.
I recently finished reading a book called “Civil War Recollections of James Lemuel Clark” (1) which included previously unpublished material on the Great Hanging. James’ father, Nathaniel Miles Clark was hung by the lynch mob. James was fourteen years old at the time, and while that seems an awful young age by todays standard, he had a very keen grasp on what was really going on around him and did a fine job of recollecting the events of the day.
I have been involved with members of the Clark family in various ways since around 1974, most notably as Janet Clark was my high school sweetheart and her cousin Bryan Johnson (whose mother is a Clark) has been one of my best friends since high school days. Their uncle Larry Clark owned the only gas station in the area and did excavation and earth moving work for my father over the years. I’ve always thought Larry was a nice guy, but an unfortunate incident from my teenage years put us irreparably at odds with each other. In all that time I never knew of their history as a founding family in Cooke County.
I plan on delving further into the history of my claimed hometown. I would especially like to hear from some of the relatives of the people who were on “the other side” of the hangings, to hear their side of the story (or stories). The more I know, the more I want to know. Who knows- maybe one day I’ll write my own book on local history? That kids will have no interest in.