Monday, June 20, 2011

An Adios Note on Things You Should Know

I think I owe you all an explanation as to why I am shutting down my blogs for a while. As many of you know, I have some health prolems that have become a major issue in my life. None are life-threatening, but they still play a role in how I live my daily life and limit my ability to do certain things. I am trying to get back to a "normal" life, so I can be a better husband and father. It will take several weeks to get things back to ":normal", but I intend to battle my way back ASAP.
I have some physical as well as mental heath stuff (arthitis, fibromyalgia, bipolar disorder and more) that will take up a lot of time. The archives on both blogs will always be available to you to read about some "new" stuff. Please use them, if that is your wish.
I want to thank you all for your unwavering support over the last year. You have been nothing short of amazing! Of course the "Donation" button is still there on the home page. If you like to help me defray my medical costs, a donation would be a much needed gift.
Thank you all for reading and all the joy you have brought to my life just because you clicking on one of my blogs. I appreciate each and everyone of you and your support.

God bless,

Sunday, June 19, 2011

No More States

The End.

Adios, y'all,

Happy Fathers Day!

While I have a break in Fathers Day activities here at The Toby Dome, I wanted to wish all the Dads out there a glorious Fathers Day. And to all the Dads who are no longer with us, thanks for setting such good examples of what it is to be a man and more importantly, a Father. I hope all Dads have a kick ass day!

Here are a few photos of what has taken place at my house this morning:
Bailey "wrote" me a Fathers Day Message on a Post It

From Issy
   I hope your fathers Day is the best ever for you and all your kids and grand kids get to pay you a visit. Take Care, Dads and Happy Fathers Day!

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Note to My Readers

James Dean Mojo
I want to apologize to you all for the lack of posting over the last week. I have some medical issues that have taken priority over blogging and practically every aspect of my life. I'll be posting some "Best of..." stuff for the weekend, then hopefully get back to a regular schedule starting Monday. Please hang in there with me and keep reading the great stuff in the blog archives. There is all kinds of interesting information and hodge podge that will leave you amazed at the brilliance of my writing and communications skills. :)

Thank you for your support durign some very difficult times for me and my family. Don't forget that there is a "Donate" button in the right sidebar. Any donation would be greatly appreciated and put to good use helping me and the wife and kids make it through some troubled times. Please consider a small donation, if you are able.

I'll be back to abnormal in a few days and armed with some great material for your reading pleasure.

Again I thank you for being there for me as a loyal reader. Y'all kick ass.


P.S. Hit the tip jar! :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Best of Three States Plus One Saturday!

Howdy, y'all! It's a cloudy and a bit cool (58 degrees) in Augusta, Maine this morning and it's a good time to grab a cup of coffee and take a look at some of the Best of Three States Plus One! I have hand-picked some of the most interesting posts of the past year form you to read again or, in some cases, see for the first time. Either way you'll like what I have chosen for you today as the material presents a look at our great country that will have you wanting to take a trip to new and exciting locales across the Fruited Plain. I hope you enjoy your virtual vacation and make plans to see something new in America this summer.
That should keep you busy for a while. If you'd like to learn more about some great places, use the search box at the top right of the side bar to access the archives. There's a ton of cool stuff stored there.

Have a great weekend, y'all!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Texas Tidbits: A Rose By Any Other Name....

If I were a ramblin' gamblin' man, and I've been known to do a little of both, I'd lay down good money that the most popular flower in the United States is the rose. As the title of this post suggest, the rose could have been named the "sweaty gym socks flower" and it would still smell like something that The Almighty adorns Paradise with. Ahhhhhh...the rose, a symbol of love and devotion, a symbol of rememberance and just a great addition to any flower garden. Which brings us to the Rose Capital of the World, Tyler, TexasA brief history : Tyler is situated in an ideal location for growing all kinds of smellin'-good, tasty and/or ornamental plants as the climate is pretty moderate with rainfall occurring throughout the year. For these reasons, succulent peaches were once to Tyler and Smith County what the elegant rose is today, but in the early 20th Century the blight decimated the peach crop in the area. Enter La Rosa. At this time, roses were already popular in East Texas, so it was a natural fit for it to fill a major void in agricultural production and revenue for Tyler.  A little north of South Loop 323 at the Glenwood (I think) intersection, lies one of the most magnificent floral displays on Earth - The Tyler Minicipal Rose Garden . The Rose Garden is fourteen acres of horticultural heaven featuring about five hundred varieties of the rose, with some of the antique rose varieties dating back to 1867! Since opening in 1952, the Rose Garden has been ooooo'ed and ahhhhh'ed over by millions of people from around the world. A predecessor to the Rose Garden is the Texas Rose Festival, held in mid- October, is now entering its ninth decade as a showcase for the flower that has made Tyler, Texas The Rose Capital of the World. A rose by any other name......   

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Texas Tidbits; Three Lakes in One!

If I were to tell you the following facts about a body of water, what would you think it was? Facts: 181,600 surface acres of water; over 1200 miles of shoreline; 65 miles long; holds over 1 trillion gallons of water. One of the Great Lakes. Nope? The Great Salt Lake? Negatory. How about Toledo Bend Reservoir in East Texas? That's the place.

 Toledo Bend is so large that is unofficially categorized as three lakes - Upper Lake, Mid Lake and the Lower Lake. Now that's BIG. My Dad was from Troup, Texas (near Tyler), so we always got the latest news in East Texas  from family. That's how we learned of Toledo Bend being built in '60s. From the family grapevine in East Texas. I remember it very well. TB is one of the best fishin'lakes in the country, regularly yielding huge Largemouth bass, stripers and catfish, as well as crappie and panfish.

Toledo Bend is a landlocked ocean, it seems. It's a beautiful place to spend time with friends and family. While you're there, be sure to round up about 20 lbs of mudbags, some small red taters and corn on the cob and have a Cajun Style Crawdad Boil. Oh.....and don't forget the cold beer.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Texas Tidbits: The Mammoths of Waco

Waco, a city of 121,000 fine folks, is located on the Brazos River about 100 miles south of Fort Worth on I-35. It's home to the oldest institution of higher learning in the State of Texas - Baylor University. Waco is also the home to one of the country's most popular soft drinks. Dr Pepper was invented by Charles Alderton at Morrison's Old Corner Drug Store in Waco in the 1880's. Another soft drink, Big Red, also calls Waco home.  Sadly, Waco is probably best-remembered by many young people as the location of the Branch Davidian tragedy in the 1990's.

I was somewhat surprised as I was looking for info on Waco this morning when I came across this story about a mammoth discovery on the Bosque River. I was already familiar with the dinosaur tracks near Glen Rose, but this was new to me. As someone who finds things like the discovery of the 10,000 year old remains of a 40,000 pound behemoth interesting, this finding has given me a real good reason to visit the Waco area again. If you'd like to see much more of the Colombian Mammoths of Waco, contact The Waco Mammoth Site so you can plan your trip back in time to prehistoric Texas.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Another Look at the Concho City of San Angelo

San Angelo
I posted this on August 11, 2010. It lead to the start of a great friendship with my good buddy, Bob Zeller. I think it's worth a second look.

If you read more than one post on this blog, then you know that I am a trees and water kind of guy, like in East Texas. For some unknown reason, however, the rugged beauty of the desert has a bit of a mysterious hold on me. I can't explain it, other than to say it's a sort of sagebrush voodoo or something. Segue to San Angelo. San Angelo is one of those places where it's not quite desert and  it's not in the Piney Woods or Big Thicket, I could live there and be happy. It doesn't exactly hurt my feelings that there is a state park and O C Fischer Lake lies within the park and snuggles up right next to the San Angelo city limits. The city got its humble beginnings when after the Civil War, Fort Concho was established as an outpost to protect the flood of settlers heading west to find their fortunes. At one time Fort Concho was home to the Black Cavalry, which the local Native Americans called the "Buffalo Soldiers", earning great respect from the white soldiers they served with and, of course, the Indians. In those days, San Angelo was a trading center for settlers in the area, but as states "The discovery of oil and gas, the influx of light manufacturing, the initial development of a communications center, the establishment and growth of Angelo State University, and the growth of the medical community provided diversification to a growing community. Today, this city of 90,000 is the trade and services hub of a 13 county area, supported by agriculture, manufacturing, education, business and health services, military, tourism, and retirement." Geographically, San Angelo is almost the bull's eye on the dartboard that is Texas and it ain't far from being a bull's eye on the dart board of places to live.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Lake Texoma

Lake Texoma. 89,000 acres of some of the best fishin' anywhere. If you're on the lookout for largemouth, white, striped or smallmouth bass, there are some real wall-hangers awaiting you at Texoma. Let's not forget crappie, catfish and the 70 other species of fish that inhabit these waters. Allow me to put you some knowledge with the water body records for the Big T. Fish fry, anyone? At, we find this: "The lake area includes two wildlife refuges, two state parks, fifty four U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-managed parks, twenty-six resorts, hundreds of campgrounds and a variety of excellent golf courses". What the hell am I doing in Maine? (just kiddin', honey.....kinda) If you've got a boat, a secluded fishin'/camping trip is as close as one of the many islands located throughout the lake. The fishing license regulations at Lake Texoma are a little goofy, but as Wikipedia tells us " Historically, Texas and Oklahoma have not had a reciprocal fishing license agreement, which has posed a problem for anglers. Recent boundary resolutions have given Oklahoma jurisdiction over most of the fishing in Lake Texoma. An Oklahoma fishing license allows fishing most of the lake, up to within 400 yards (370 m) of Denison Dam. To fish the entire lake, a Lake Texoma fishing license is also available." Be sure to check with Texas or Oklahoma wildlife officers to get the right info for you. As at any major lake in Texas, the weekends at Texoma are, shall we say, busy? Although with 89,000 acres of fishin' available, you could probably find some place to hang out without too much of a crowd.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Letter to Dad - October 6, 1938 - June 5, 2004 UPDATED (scroll down)

Dad, Debbie, Adam & Sara - 1995
Dear's hard to believe that it's already been seven years since you've "gone Home". It seems like it was just yesterday that we were hanging out at Dale's Company BBQ. All those people there and it was just you and me talking father to son. While you are no longer here to lend your wisdom to me in person, I hear you speaking to me in my heart all the time. The advice is much needed and much welcomed.

Although I am now 54 years old, I understand that I am always gonna be the 8lb 12 oz bundle of "goofball" that you were so proud of in 1956. And, Dad, I am still proud of you and honored to be your son. I didn't tell you this enough when you were alive, but you were a good Dad and a good man.

I miss the Sunday drives we used to take to where ever the wind took us...places like Tintop, Lake Benbrook, Lake Worth or to the Fort Worth Zoo to catch catfish or slide down that big ass hill on a piece of cardboard. I miss watching you work on the cars and have them running like new in just a little while. I also enjoyed the stories you'd tell me when I was a kid about where your run was for this time. Dad, after you being on the road for over 40 years, those stories are fresh in my mind today and I've tried to make those same runs over the years and I've done pretty damn good at it, too.

I guess I'd better close for now, Dad, but before I go, do you remember when you, Grandpa and I used to go trolling for anything that would hit a yellow and black HellBender? Those are times seared in my memory, never-to-be forgotten. Good times. Dads and sons times. Best of times.

I miss you, Dad. And I love you. Adios til next time.

UPDATE: My Dad loved old cars. When I went outside a while ago there was a Frakkin' Cherry '65 Chevy Pick  Up in the parking lot. It just happened to be there. Dad, I know you liked seeing that.I did, too. :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Re-visiting a Nightmare

I chose to repost this particular article because the Time of Doom draws nigh once again. The Annual Visit With My Mother-in-Law. I have to get myself mentally prepared for this "event". This story recounts an old visit with the battle Axe and I'll have a new episode when the next visit is unavoidable gets closer to reality.

A couple of days ago I wrote about impending doom a much overdue visit from my Mother-in-Law. As it turns out, there is a God!!!!, she had to postpone her trip by the Grace of The Almighty  due to car trouble. This turn of events caused  me to do cartwheels my wife great sadness and despair. I thought I was safe from all that is evil and wrong with the world. I.Was.Wrong. My weekend of sloth and gluttony has turned into The Weekend From Hell. I know you married guys are wondering, "How could a nice weekend of sloth and gluttony turn into a weekend from hell, when your Mother-in-Law is 200 miles away having car trouble and can't come to torture and degrade you visit?" Let me 'splain. Although I'm happier than a stoned fat kid at a McDonald's all you can eat buffet saddened my M-I-L can't make it, a fate worse than paying alimony to an ex-wife that married a plastic surgeon has befallen me. I.Have.To.Go.Back.To.School.Shopping.! But wait! There's more! I am (or should be) committed... to attend a baby shower! Don't get me wrong, as a father of four (ages 3-31, God help me), I love kids, I really do (especially with a little salt and mustard....rimshot). But, less than a month before my 54th birthday, I thought my days of going to baby showers were over! At least until my own daughters had babies. But my wife threatened me with unspeakable acts of violence asked me nicely to go, so I said OK. Upon further review, I never thought I'd miss my Mother-in-Law, but I do. Go figure. Anyway...posting will be sporadic, at best, today for the previously mentioned reasons. Rummage through the archives because there's lots of stuff in there and I'm sure you'll find something that'll make you say to yourself, "That's 10 minutes of my life I'll never get back". But it's Friday, what a better way to kill time at work than to read some worthless drivel potential Pulitzer Prize-winning social commentary? Here are a few of my popular posts from the recent past:

Friday, June 3, 2011

Texas Tidbits; How to Raise Missile Launchers in Your Vegetable Garden

I am a gardener. I grow stuff - tomatoes, peppers, squash, you name it, I've probably grown it or tried to grow it. Gardening is something I learned from Grandma Shoemaker as a young child. I was fascinated that one day she would put a tiny seed in the ground and a few weeks later BAM!, there was a tomato! Even now, in my mid-50's, that little boy of the early 1960's shows up every time I spot a new blossom on a tomato plant or some such. Wow! That's gonna be a (fill-in-the-vegetable-name-here)! And I think of Grandma. The secret to a productive garden is good dirt, so preparation is key to a bountiful harvest. And let me tell you, while tilling up the ground for a garden, you are liable to find almost anything - nails, rocks, silverware, coins, old bottles, missile launchers....missile launchers??? Yep, there's nothing like digging up discarded military explosive devices to get a bang out of gardening. That's exactly what happened to 34 year old Jarrette Schule of Comal County near San Antonio. From the article, "Schule spent Tuesday afternoon calling the FBI, Homeland Security, the Sheriff’s Department — every agency he could think of. He was stuck in a bureaucratic limbo.
“Everyone was handing it off to everybody else,” Schule said. And some people want more government? This guy found this missile launcher on a Tuesday, made all the right phone calls to all the right people and nobody seemed to care! WTF? This tale does have a happy (and safe) ending, however. The next day, Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio was kind enough to send an ordinance disposal team to pick up the military hardware and do whatever they do with rogue missile launchers found by civilians while preparing some land for a garden. I don't know about you, but a few questions come to mind regarding this peculiar situation. Questions like...where were the local cops? Dunkin Donuts? What about Homeland Security? Were they too busy at the airport frisking nuns and 90 year old women who pose a threat to our national security? And the FBI? I hear they were deep undercover at the Glenn Beck 8/28 Rally looking for right-wing extremists carrying homemade signs that "Obama is a Kenyan". Don't get me wrong, I'm not raggin' on law enforcement here, their job is tough enough as it is. I love the guys and gals in blue and the Feds, but c'mon folks. One of the higher ups in one of these agencies should have had a passing thought like, "This old boy in Comal County found a missile launcher while digging up his garden and maybe, just maybe, there's an element of danger to him and the general public. Finkelstein! Get somebody out there pronto!" But, all's well that ends well, I suppose. Excuse me while I go get my dirt ready for next year's garden. I might dig up Osama Bin Laden.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Texas Tidbits: A Fishing Place for Everyone

The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is an $18 million facility located in Athens dedicated to the conservation and education about fish and fisheries in the State of Texas. Although TFFC is operated by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, it was built without State Funds ( that alone is reason enough to love the place). From the TFFC website : "TFFC houses a hatchery, laboratory, aquarium, and education center focusing on underwater wildlife in the state’s freshwater streams, ponds and lakes. It serves as home base for the ShareLunker program, which invites anglers to donate trophy-sized largemouth bass for research and breeding purposes. Annual visitation is more than 60,000. A third of our visitors attend with school and youth groups".

See that photo up there  ^^^? That's a 26,000 gallon aquarium in the theatre at TFFC. As you can see, that's a full-grown man in scuba gear in there feeding the fish. He's wired for sound and is able to take questions from visitors about the aquarium in particular or TFFC in general. I have seen this on several occasions and it's a very informative program. This huge fish tank is home to several species of piscatorial species, including (at the time I was there) a large mouth bass estimated to weigh 24+ pounds and a blue catfish at an estimated 44 pounds ! To top that off, this catfish was blind as a bat due to cataracts (true, but pun intended). Also on the property are a snack bar, gift shop and a pond that is stocked with rainbow trout during the winter and year-round with catfish. Rod and reels and bait are provided free of charge. The on-site museum is an awesome part of the facility with interactive displays and fishin' gear from days gone by. For more info, you can contact TFFC here.
The Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center is a must see not only for fishermen, but for the education they provide about fish habitat, etc, and how to conserve and protect these beautiful assets for all Texans.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Texas Tidbits: Nice Guns She's Got There

Nice Guns She's Got There
  • Midland - The Sheriff's Department of Midland County sounds like a great place to work. The "perks" are really cool...til you get caught. It seems that five of Midland's finest were enjoying a little fellowship and discussing pressing law enforcement issues at an establishment named "Twin Peaks". I don't don't know about you, but as a bachelor and man of the world for most of my adult life (until I met Heather), when a place of business is named "Twin Peaks", two things leap to mind. Mountains or scantily clad young women. Being that this episode took place in Midland, mountains are ruled out immediately. That leaves what's behind door number two : scanitly clad young women. Having said that, the name of a place alone is not necessarily an indication of what kind of business it is. However, and that's a big however, when the business' motto is “fun, friendly and sometimes flirty atmosphere!”, red flags (and scantily clad young women) go up like they were shot out of a thirty-aught-six. The scenario : These five cops were having a couple of beers at Twin Peaks. They befriended one of the scantily clad young women who works there and one of the Men in Blue invited the scantily clad young woman outside for a few snapshots. Nothing good could come from that. Even I have never been so inebriated as to do such a dumabass thing, plenty of other dumbass things but nothing this dumbass. Anyway, as if taking this girl outside for a few pictures isn't dumbass enough, one of the cops gives her an AK-47 AR-15! (thanks to anonymous in the comments for the correction-Toby) to pose with on his squad car! Epic.Fail. The High Sheriff of Midland County failed to see the humor in this little incident and took appropriate disciplinary action against the officers. In all this skullduggery and debauchery (and harmless law enforcement fun), there is a two word moral to the story for the gentlemen involved : Dunkin. Donuts.
There's your heart-warming human interest story for this week. Be sure to tune in next week when we'll have a blockbuster of a tale when the Midland Sheriff's Department spurns the lure of the scantily clad young women at Twin Peaks and opt for buffalo wings, beer and scantily clad young women at Hooters. You don't wanna miss it!

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