Safety Goggles and a Shower

We’re back to light-hearted, what-happened-today posts for tonight. I’ve been writing me arse off today and at this point, I just need to do something not so serious.

Jdubs got into the shower tonight with his play-like Black n Decker safety goggles. He was hoping to keep the soap out of his eyes. It didn’t work so well but he totally got smarty points with me for thinking of it in the first place.

Here’s the play by play

Jdubs with his goggles on. ready. check.
Gotta make an adjustment
smiling for the camera
Look at those eyes. Never would have thought a blue-eyed babe would be possible from my brown, ethnic eyes.


I love raising a little boy.  They are just the coolest. Today Jdubs informed me that “that damn dog is barking again.” A proud parental moment.

Victual Files: Another Hole in the Wall

If you weren’t going to Newcastle, Texas, you probably wouldn’t have much of a reason to be there. It’s up on the tip of the rolling plains where the hill country turns into dusty west Texas. Around 1950, the town had about 1,500 people living in it, and was a thriving coal mining community. However, they long-ago closed the coal mine, and since there’s not a railroad anywhere close the town’s citizens are mainly those who either are from Newcastle or whose parents and grandparents are from Newcastle. They sit below 500 these days on total population, however something very magical happens in the Fall in that part of the world.

The deer hunters converge.

You see, along with sparse population comes wide open range, and it just so happens that the nearby Brazos River makes for some of the best deer hunting in all of north Texas. At one point in the last century, the area was also known for its incredible dove and quail hunting. However, due to environmental changes, the dove population tends to wain from year to year, and the Bobwhite quail population is close to 25% of what it was just 50 years ago.

Nonetheless, on weekends in the Fall (aside from some of the best 6-man football in the region), you’ll find the town almost doubled in size with four wheel drive trucks, ATV’s, feed corn, and camoflauge from head to toe. You can buy beer and liquor from the stores, and the gas at the gas station is some of the cheapest around. If you venture into Jerry’s Meat Market on the corner of 380 and 380, you can get incredible cuts of beef ribeye steaks, marbled to perfection and cut in the butcher room in the back.

However, across the road there sits a red building that locals know as the local eatin’ joint, and visitors know as the home of the best damn hamburger on Earth. This is: Another Hole in the Wall.

Oh, sure…there’s a drive thru if you are picking up groceries for the family after church on Sunday, but you’ll want to go in to experience what AHitW is all about. In addition to their hamburgers, they have a yearly Big Buck competition and a longest turkey beard competition. Adorning the walls are pictures from previous years; a “yearbook” of sorts showing trophys pre-mount of all the harvested deer and turkeys from the local hunts.

Understand that this isn’t the place to go for a prom date. It’s good food, good company, and all within the close confines of your friendly Newcastle neighbors.

You want coffee? Serve yourself. Cups are on the wall.

You want tea or cokes? The owner, Bob, offers that, too. He will refill your tea glass for you, but it’s all unsweet so you have to spice it up yourself. Cokes are charged by the can, and they have three or four different types of “cokes” here. (In Texas, any type of soda is a “coke”. We often ask, “What sorta coke you want? Dr. Pepper?” )

Bob will even sit with you to discuss OU football or the Cowboys, but if you don’t like cigarette smoke, I suggest you sit along the edges or even the front area. This is his restaurant, and by gawd he’s going to have a cigarette while he’s working.  You can always get your order to go if the smoke bothers you that much, but it’s worth the pain to have this food served right off the grill.

Another Hole in the Wall is named as such because it was the 2nd location of a restaurant in nearby Graham called Hole in the Wall. The owner opened this location in Newcastle, however the original Hole in the Wall is long gone and all that’s left is the sequel. The be frank, the Newcastle location was always the better of the two. When you walk in, you get a menu with an angry looking character on it. Now, AHitW is world famous for its Hog Burger. The Hog is the unofficial mascot, which you’ll find on both the menu and t-shirts available behind the counter.

There’s a daily special along with a list of different regular menu items. Breakfast is served early, and lunch and dinner menus are the same. You can even get a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich, but as the menu warns, it’s $21.49 and takes up to 30 minutes to prepare. I’m sure it’s good.

Above the front desk, you’ll see Bob’s wedding photo and his prized Sooner gear. He lets Aggies, Raiders, and Longhorns eat there, but he’ll make sure you remember who won the most recent game.

Aside from the charm and décor, we are here for the food. I mentioned earlier that the burgers are the best on the planet. That’s no hyperbole…they are the best. They are all made to order per your specification, and aren’t stuck on the grill until you order them. In addition, you can get fries, but what you want are the “house chips”: thinly sliced potatoes, fried to a crisp. They are incredible. I think I could eat an entire bucket of these things before I gave up.

If you are hungry, get the mini-cheeseburger. If you are really hungry, get the regular cheeseburger. If you think you are a man, get the Piglet (which is what we are having today). You think you are a badass? Get the Hog. The Piglet is the mini version of the Hog, but you’ll feel your cholesterol and blood sugar spike after eating either one.

This is the Piglet with house chips:

It’s a regular hamburger with bacon, cheese, and a thick slice of grilled ham. A true “ham burger”. Those delicious chips:

I take my Piglet with mayo and all the vege.

This thing is massive, and it’s the smaller version of their famous burger. If you can get your hands around it, you may have to give it a squeeze to get it into your mouth.

I like to take some of the ketchup on the table and squirt it on to my chips, then dab a little of the ketchup onto the burger.

I’m telling you…this is the best burger you can find. There is no better burger than this thing.

For the little guy, he gets the mini with fries:

…and shows his appreciation with a hearty single Gigger. You’ll notice Bob in the background having a smoke and watching TV:

That, my friends and fellow Arcadians, is what small town is all about. Good food, good company, and an experience you won’t soon forget.

Another Hole in the Wall Café

510 Houston St

Newcastle, Texas

Cakes and Naps

Jdubs and I made pancakes for breakfast. Then we made a cake after church. I did very little today other than napping and a little cooking. It was awesome.

The sprinkles were his idea. And so were the strawberries.

I don't make pretty cakes, I make tasty cakes. Jdubs was in charge of the sprinkles.

A Christmas Bath for Ruby

I love my dog. Ruby is smart, obedient and eager to please. She’s beautiful, intense and energetic and sometimes obnoxious, but she’s very loveable. And when Australian Shepherds are described, loyal companion is always part of the discussion. She is “my” dog. She follows me everywhere. Any room I’m in, so is she. I go into the bathroom, she follows. I lie on the couch, she’s next to me. In my office, she’s curled up next to my chair. That kind of devotion is both annoying and endearing.

I got Ruby when she was 8 weeks old in January of 2005. As a little pup, she wanted to play and please. At the time, I was single and needing a friend, a running buddy, a companion full of energy, who could go on a run and be my loyal sidekick. Ruby was that wonderful friend. I promptly took her to obedience training and she excelled, like most dogs of her breed. I planned to take her to agility training and to make her a dog full of tricks.

Then, ironically, my life changed in a good way when I met my human partner in life. I decided a good dog with good obedience skills and a few tricks was perfect.

Ruby is a beautiful dog—Red Tri Color Australian Shepherd. Her beauty is derived mostly from her spectacular coat. Her breed was developed as a working heard dog; breeder selection had everything to do with how the dogs functioned – how smart and independent they were while being obedient. Other characteristics included hardiness – western cattle and sheep raisers needed dogs that would withstand the brutal climate swings and rugged terrain. And that is how their beautiful coat came to be.

She doesn’t shed too badly for a long-haired dog. But bathing this dog is a chore. We joke that she needs a “Christmas Bath” because that’s about as often as she gets a proper bath. In the summer, we just hose her down with the spray nozzle of the water hose.

But the winter is a different story. And she has been stinking up the joint for weeks now. So I finally broke down and bathed her tonight.

Step 1. Brush out some of that undercoat. (some tangles have to be cut out)

It takes many gallons of water to get her wet all the way through.

Then it takes a lot of soap to get her lathered up. Then it takes a very long time and lots more water to rinse.

And it takes about 6-10 hours for her to dry, including many shakes.

For now she’s sleeping it off.

She smells so much better now. I love my dog. And when she is freshly bathed, she is gorgeous.

Old School Remedies

Sometimes the oldest remedy is the best one … This is an old, but superb version of cough syrup. The side effects include drowsiness, calmed cough, relaxation and flavonoids.

Hot Toddy

1 shot whiskey

2 Tbs Honey (in this case fine, Teton wildflower honey from Jackson Hole, Wy.)

Lemon juice (from one small lemon)

Splash of water

Mix together in a coffee mug, nuke in the microwave, stir and enjoy.

Holy Haboob

The weather is a curious thing … this is the second “haboob” [aka dust storm] in about six months. I don’t really ever recall having dust storms here in Young County as a kid. West Texas was famous for them and I became familiar with the dust storms after living in Lubbock, Texas, during college. The photo below was taken from my alley with the camera pointed at the sun in the late afternoon.

The hydroelectric plant [aka the fairy castle] on one of our lakes is a favorite photo subject of mine. Today it was eerie with the camera pointed at the sun with the haze of the dust blocking out most of the sunlight.

The powerful cold front has moved through … the temps dropped 30 degrees and the wind died down. Earlier it was sustained at 27 mph out of the west. In the “so far today” section the wind speed was clocked at 44 mph. I swear is gusted faster than that. Now we need rain to “wash” the air.