Saturday, April 10, 2021

Size Doesn’t Matter

This morning I saw a duck flying at about 30 feet above my front yard as it made its way to the southeast.  As it flew over the top of a neighbor’s house I thought it must be going to the regional park just a few miles away in the direction it was going.  There is a small lake there and duck regularly stop there on their travels, and many make it a permanent home.  Seeing this duck brought to mind one of my earliest duck hunts.

A friend of mine was a duck hunter.  He lived to hunt (and eat) duck.  His home was almost a shrine to the duck.  And his garage was filled front to back and top to bottom with stuff to make his duck hunting “easier.”  Plus he had a dedicated trailer just to haul it around, and when he arrived where he wanted to hunt, he had many choices he could make based on—well, actually, I don’t know what.

Donald (yes, his name really was Donald) had a number of duck blinds in every camo pattern and color he could buy or make.  There were two canoes, a jon boat, and something he called a punt.  He had decoys in abundance in at least half a dozen duck types.  Some decoys were made for floating in water, and some were for setting out in a field.  Some were small, some were large, and some were gigantic.

One evening I joined him on one of his hunts.  I arrived at his home about 9pm, transferred my meager hunting things to his truck, loaded up the two retrievers, and we set out for a lake about 120 miles away.  I was full of questions and he was empty of answers.  “What kind of duck are we hunting?”  “I don’t know."  “How do you know there will be any ducks there?"  "It's duck season."  “Are we hunting from a boat or on land?"  "Maybe." 

We eventually arrived at the lake and found the gate to the property one of his friends owned.  By the time we found the spot where Donald thought was the right place to park, it was almost 3am.  My first thought was, "Finally we can get some sleep.”  His first thought was, "We’re running late.  Let’s get set up.”

Donald (not Don) started opening up doors on his trailer and pulling bags out onto the ground. I stood there peering into the darkness wondering where the lake was hiding.  He had me drag several bags over to a place about eighty yards from the truck and empty them onto the ground.  They were filled with decoys.  Mostly mallards, but many different sizes and shapes.  Then he dragged over two very big bags.  He said they were our blinds.

While I scattered the decoys over the field, Donald set up the blinds.  I had never seen anything like them.  They were basically two large metal cloth covered frames with cutouts for openings.  The coverings were painted to look like two humongous ducks, Each one standing about 7 feet tall.

By now it was getting light enough to see my surroundings.  The lake was about 40 yards away to the southeast, the field appeared to be full of ducks (the decoys), and in the middle of the ducks were two massive ducks that appeared to belong on a carousel ride.  I questioned Donald about whether or not the real ducks would be fooled, but he just looked at me as though I was dumber than the ducks.

Well we climbed inside the two giant ducks along with our shotguns, stools for sitting, dogs for fetching, blankets for staying warm, and thermoses of coffee for staying awake.  As it was getting lighter, the birds were beginning to fly by.  Soon many had landed around us to feed among the decoys.  The two sumo-ducks did not warrant so much as a sideways glance. 

As the sun made its appearance Donald and I were able to pop out of the top of our blinds to bring down the incoming birds.  The noise from the shotguns caused some feeding disturbances, but the ducks on the ground stayed around feeding.  When the dogs exited to fetch the downed birds, the live ones just moved aside and kept on eating.  This repeated until we had our limits.  However, the moment we exited the duck-shaped blinds, the feeding birds left in a mass scramble to get into the air and as far away from us as they could get.

By 10am we had the trailer and truck loaded for the return trip.  As Donald picked the two bags of ducks he noticed my bag was heavier than his.  At first he thought I had harvested an extra bird, but upon emptying the bags and recounting for himself, he realized the difference was simply I had brought down a couple of very large birds. 

On the drive home Donald complained more than once about how much larger my ducks were.  Finally, in order to change the subject a bit, I asked why the two giant duck-shaped blinds worked so well.

The reply was simple.  “When it comes to ducks, size doesn't matter."

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Three-Fourths or One-Half?

Yesterday marked the mid-point in my calendar year.  The third Friday in September is the end of my year, therefore, the third Friday of March is the halfway point.  Each year the Annual Wild Game Feed at Irvine Lake occurs the third Friday in September; however, 2020 was an exception.  The Covid-19 pandemic destroyed many gatherings including the Annual Wild Game Feed.  Simple math puts us at the three-quarter mark of a two-year calendar.  I hope everyone is getting their vaccinations and wearing masks so the Feed can happen in 2021.  If not, then we are just now at the halfway point of a three-year calendar.

I’ve been hoping to hear something from the administration of the Feed’s membership.  Something.  Anything.  But with little to base a prediction on, I guess they are waiting until the last minute to make a decision whether or not to move forward with the plans for the 2021 Feed.  Still ‘better safe than sorry.’

Everyone stay safe, get vaccinated, wear a mask, avoid other people, etc., so we can get rid of this pandemic virus and have our Feed this year.

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Monday, February 22, 2021

Biggie—Year Ten—FaceTime Dog

What a year, huh?  Biggie had just returned home to his mom after nearly a year of living with my wife and me when the quarantines arrived due to the pandemic.   His mom finally found a real job, so he went home to be with her.  Literally the next morning the announcements of quarantine hit us like a lightening bolt.  Since that time we have seen him only four or five times.  Once when I had to deliver something to his mom, and several times when his mom had to go out of town for a few days for her job. 

This social separation from my part-time dog is difficult for me, so the best thing I can do is call his mom for some FaceTime with Biggie.  (Biggie doesn't have his own phone yet.)  Somehow it’s just not the same as being with him, and honestly, I don’t think he really understands it.  When I talk to him, he seems more interested is sleeping, or some toy, or just sniffing of something.  Once I thought he barked for me, but then I realized the mail was being delivered to his home.  Oh, well.

Biggie is now fourteen years old, and in a few months he will add another year.  He has slowed down a little, and he is missing a few teeth, but he is in good health overall.  Last year, just before the virus reared its ugly head, Biggie developed a growth in his left ear.  At first I thought the growth was just a skin tag, but in just a few weeks it was larger than a marble.  The first vet he visited to said he would need to remove the entire ear in order to biopsy the growth.  NO!  The second vet took one look and said no problem.  This is an easy removal and Biggie should be perfectly fine in a few days.  Out patient surgery.  No hospital time.  And a couple of thousand dollars less than that first vet.  I really don’t think Biggie even realized the surgery took place.  He was a happy dog before the surgery, and he was a happy dog afterwards.  Then he went home to his mom.  Very happy dog.

As I was writing the above paragraphs I got a call from Biggie’s mom.  She is going out of town for a week.  Could I pick him up tonight?  Before we ended the phone call, I was in the car and on my way. 

Biggie is now home with me.  Yea!  I’m a happy dog, uh, guy right now.  Just as I walked in the door to my home, Biggie’s mom called to FaceTime with MY dog, and Biggie responded to her voice for a moment.  Only a moment.  He then ran into the kitchen and woofed at the cabinet where I store his treats.  Yes, he has his priorities.  Snacks are more important than anything else, and I agree.

Now FaceTime with Biggie has a new meaning, or at least for a few days.  This is the real thing.  His face and my face with no phone in between.  I’m a happy, uh, guy.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Optimisim

Last night I stayed up past midnight.  I don’t believe I’ve done that in fifteen years or more, but it was necessary.  I needed to know 2020 was Gone.  Done.  Over With.  History.  And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t mind the fireworks.  I figured the persons setting off the noise bombs were also celebrating the death of 2020.  I completely agree.

Now it’s time to look forward through foggy glasses due to the masks and envision a world where we can once again enjoy the Annual Wild Game Feed at Irvine Lake.  Last year a lot of charities missed out on donations from this organizations at a time when they needed it most.  They need the Feed as much as we do.  The Feed is still over nine months away, so there is time for vaccinations and ‘herd immunity’ to free us from the clutches of Covid-19 and the pandemic we are currently experiencing. 

To all the guys out there planning on joining me this year at the Feed wear those masks.  Stay isolated.  Get your vaccine shot.  Do your part to end this misery so we can return to our annual feast.  I know we can do this.  We can climb out of this hole and return to, at least to a degree, some freedom to gather for our annual meat eating, beer drinking party.  We already had to miss one year.  Let's not make it two in a row.

September 17, 2021

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Friday, December 25, 2020

Santa’s Midnight Ride

Today is Christmas Day, and the sleigh has been parked, the reindeer put away, and the red suit is getting ready to go to the cleaners.  It has been great fun, and although I need a long rest, I’m ready to do it again.

Each year this becomes more entertaining.  The kids always come up with something new to wish for, and Santa is becoming a bit more deaf.  Long ago I began to repeat to the child on my lap what they had requested from Santa, but between the mumbled words and my inability to understand well-enunciated words, repeating the requests became very interesting.

I still don’t know what she asked for, but I’m quite certain she said she wanted Alaska.  When I repeated Alaska, it drew quite a few giggles and laughs.  One young boy wanted a parrot named Polly, but I thought he said a pair of tamales.  Hatchimals are popular, I thought at first the kids were asking for Hannibals or Cannibals.  I've had requests for a stuffed hair (bear), a log (dog), skunk (trunk), brain (train), and mblfeez (mblfeez). 

Sometimes I hear correctly the request, and I wish I had misunderstood.  One boy mentioned he wanted to get his sister a wiener for Christmas.  His nineteen-year-old sister was obviously becoming his brother, and I wished I could unhear his request.  Another request was for a new shovel.  It seems he had been told he would grow up to be a ditch digger, so he wanted to start practicing.  (It makes me wonder how his family treats him.)  And one young lady requested a pair of matching shotguns.  When I asked what she wanted them for, she said she wanted to go to Afghanistan to protect her Daddy.

At the least my job is interesting.  It is also fun, but the nights get long, and the restrooms are few and far between.  I’m glad for this break. But I’ll start preparing for next year tomorrow morning.

I wrote these words a year ago (2019) not knowing there would be a pandemic known as Covid-19 virus.  This year (2020) I was unable to put on the red suit even once.  There have been years when I thought of parking the sleigh permanently, but being forced into retirement was not what I had in mind.  I miss this too much.  Next year I'll be back in the sleigh, and I can hardly wait.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Bob Lost His Keys

 Last year my neighbor passed away 3 months shy of his 100th birthday.  Bob was a big loss to our neighborhood, and he will not soon be forgotten. 

Bob had lived in his house more than seventy years.  Back in the late 1940’s he moved to California, got married, built his house from scratch, and raised a family.  Bob would never consider, even in the smallest amount, ever moving out of his house.  And he was true to the end.  Bob passed away at home, in his bed, surrounded by family.  Who could ask for more?

I was privileged to know Bob for his final 3 ½ years.  He was funny, generous, and kind.  Even though he was struggling to walk, he would often find a way to step onto his porch to greet my wife and I if we were outside.  Every Thursday he would have someone drive him to the local Senior Center where he would play Bingo for a few hours.  And every Friday he would find it necessary to tell me how much he won playing the game.  It was usually 2 or 3 dollars, and he played only 12 games (at 1 dollar per game) to win it.  But he had fun being the only man at the venue. 

During his last year, I began taking his trashcans to the curb each week for the sanitation engineers to pick up.  I noticed very little in the cans beyond ice cream cartons, so I asked the obvious question: "Do you need help getting groceries, or preparing food?”  To this I received 3 minutes of laughter as a reply.  It seems Bob decided that healthy eating habits were only for those persons hoping for a long healthy life, and he had already accomplished that.  At his age (98 at the time) he decided to eat what he wanted, and what he wanted was an unlimited supply of ice cream.   The only variance in his ice cream diet was found in brand and flavor. 

About 2 months before Bob passed away, I spend an afternoon with him on his back porch listening to the many stories he had lived through in his lifetime.  Neither of us really wanted to be sitting on his porch, but Bob couldn’t find the keys to his door, and managed to lock himself out of his home.  Spare keys had been hidden is very specific spots around his property, and I knew where most of them were, so I started searching. 

The first place I looked, Bob immediate informed me he had loaned those keys to his grandson.  So I went to the second place only to be told his grandson’s wife had those keys.  Number 3 went to another grandson.  Number 4 went to his daughter’s partner’s brother.  And so forth.  No spare keys were remaining.  So we sat on his back porch trying to call everyone with a key.  Not answering.  Out of town.  Lost the key.  Oh, I have a key?  Etc. 

For several hours I listened to Bob’s stories.  He spent World War II in Africa as a supply clerk near Casablanca where he went swimming in the ocean every afternoon.  When it was time to return home, he flew back in the open door bomb bay of a B-24.  He said he watch the Atlantic Ocean beneath his feed for the many hours of the flight, all the time hoping not to fall out.  When I asked him if he was strapped in, he replied, “Where's the fun in that?"  ‘Quite a character’ does not begin to describe Bob.

Finally Bob ran out of stories, and we grew tired of waiting for some of those persons not answering their phones to return messages.  Bob’s neighbor to the east (I live on the west side) noticed us and came over to visit.  When we told him the circumstances, he retrieved some tools from his home to break into Bob’s house.  In just a few minutes Bob was inside eating ice cream.  The next day I repaired the damage to the doorframe, and was handed a spare set of keys--just in case. 

Bob left this world a little over a year ago, and every day when I step outside the first thing I do is check to see if Bob is out on his porch to greet me.  I know he is no longer there, but I still see him every time I look at the house that Bob built.  

Friday, September 18, 2020

2020 Wild Game Feed

Today is a sad day for those of us who attend the Annual Wild Game Feed each year at Irvine Lake.  The cancellation of this year’s event has left a very large hole in each of our schedules that is hard to fill due to all the restrictions during the pandemic.

 Each year I usually get together with some friends the day before the main event and have a mini-feed.  Since we see each other only once a year, this is really our only time together, because once we get to the Feed, we are busy making new friends.  There was no mini-feed this year.  It will be another entire year before we can see each other again--that is, if the restrictions are lifted by then.  Right now I can dream. 

 We all know canceling the Feed was the right thing to do.  This virus must be stopped, and sooner is better than later.  But still, it has already been a very long year of waiting for the return of the Feed, and now we must wait another long year.  On the plus side, that means those in charge of putting it together have another year to improve upon perfection.  I hate waiting, but it is always worth the wait. 

 My calendar is already marked for September 17, 2021. 

 Stay Safe!

 See you at the Feed!

 Meat and Beer!

Monday, June 22, 2020

We Knew It Was Going To Happen

I had a bad feeling when I first heard about the covid-19 virus.  Somehow I just knew it would bite into the Annual Wild Game Feed at Irvine Lake, and that’s just what happened.  The 2020 Annual Wild Game Feed Main Event for September 18, 2020 has been CANCELLED!   Bummer! And a few other choice words to go with it.  But it is for the best.  This virus must be stopped, and the Board of Directors felt the safety of everyone involved was the most important item on the Feed’s agenda.

Sooooo…  NEXT YEAR!!  September 17, 2021.  Mark your calendar for the third Friday in September, 2021.

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Monday, May 18, 2020

Quarantined

I know it’s not a complete lockdown, but I'm treating it as such--sort of.  I still need to get groceries, water, and visit my doctors for routine maintenance, but for the most part, I’m staying home.  It’s not a lot of fun.  But I’m trying to do my part in stopping this virus.

Many adjustments have been made to accomplish this minimalization of lifestyle, and I know I’m not alone.  I was talking with my neighbors (over the phone) a few days ago, and the discussion of toilet paper came up.  Oh, boy!  Neither of us knows of anyone who has even seen a roll of the stuff in a month.  Well, sort of.  Almost everyone has seen it in abundance in someone else’s shopping cart.  Earlier this week I was at a Costco and saw a person with eleven shopping carts lined up each with a bundle of toilet paper in it, along with paper towels and hand sanitizer in most of them.  I watched as this person (along with her shopping cart guard) took one of the carts through checkout, then handed it off to a waiting friend to remove from the store.  This person then took another cart through checkout and did the same thing again.  It took a team of four or five people to work this out, but it was all purchased by one person.  And I didn’t get any.  The store was out.

The phone discussion with my neighbor turned into a “what did people do before toilet paper” discussion.  Well I was raised on a farm with an outhouse, and I know what to do, but I’m not real excited about doing it.  I remember when Papa brought home a wagon load of dried corncobs, and piled them by the outhouse.  Just grab a few on the way in and scrape away.  Fortunately dried corncobs are scarcer than toilet paper today.  Of course, corncobs were a last resort.  The usual choice was a few pages from a catalog, such as Sears or Montgomery Ward, that is until they started printing in color on the slick glossy paper.  Then it was back to corncobs or even a handful of hay from a bale lying next to the pile of corncobs.

This morning I called to make an appointment to see my doctor about some problems stemming from an accident some time in my past.  What a circus!  The doctors at the clinic I go to are now on a rotating schedule with no one working more than two random days per week.  To get an appointment one must be in an emergency situation and call on the day their doctor is available.  If the doctor is not available, one must wait until the following day to try again.  When I asked what days my doctor will be in, I was told the schedule is known only to the doctors, so I must try every day until I get it right.  What is this? 

I went to a local grocery a few days ago only to discover a line wrapping around the building.  The estimate was a seven to eight hour wait to enter the store.  The next morning I returned at five a.m. only to discover the line was already wrapped around the building.  I asked some people near the front of the line what time they arrived, and I was shocked to discover they were in line when the store closed at nine p.m the night before. 

On the plus side, I needed gasoline (for the first time in many weeks), and there was no one in line at Costco.  I drove straight to the pump and filled my gas tank.  Unbelievable.  It’s usually a twenty to thirty minute wait, and sometimes much longer. 

A sign on the front of a hardware store said “Face Masks Required.”  Underneath it was a sticker on the glass reading “Facial Coverings Not Allowed.” 

It’s a crazy world we are now living in, but the key word here is "living."  I'm seeing on the television reports of protesting crowds and crowded beaches.  I don’t understand why these people have such a death wish.  This pandemic will only grow longer if people don’t isolate.  More time inside will help to end this tragedy sooner.  To me that is obvious, but apparently not everyone agrees.  Oh, well.  I'll just stay as isolated as possible until this is over.  Hopefully you will also.

Stay safe everyone.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

My Fingers are Crossed

Well, the official word is that there is no official word as to whether or not the Annual Wild Game Feed will happen as scheduled on Friday, September 18, 2020.  Today I received a notice that everything is ready to move forward quickly when the quarantine is lifted, and we can have a safe and healthy environment for our gathering.  Hopefully we will know by mid-June, and if the "All Clear" button is pressed, the ticket order forms will then be mailed out.  If so, then be ready to place your order quickly.

This year has been a ride on the back of a buffalo in the middle of a stampede.  Of course, the buffalos are all wearing masks and staying six feet apart, but nonetheless, it's been a crazy ride.  However, no one I know is rushing to get this corona virus.  And let's keep it that way.  Speaking for myself, if the Feed has to be postponed for safety reasons, so be it.  I am an outdoors person, and quarantine does not fit my lifestyle, although it is infinitely better than catching covid-19. 

So, hang in there guys.  As soon as I know anything I’ll post it here. 

See You at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Friday, March 20, 2020

Half Full or Half Empty?

Today is the halfway point in the yearly journey to the Annual Wild Game Feed, and I don't know to be happy or sad.  I could be happy because half of the year is already behind us and the waiting time is shortened by 26 weeks, or I could be sad because half of the year is still ahead of us, and it's a long 26 week wait for the greatest feast in Orange County.  Once again, it is on the third Friday of September.  This year it happens on September 18, 2020.

For over twenty years I have been attending this annual gathering of men to chomp down on quail, buffalo, alligator, wild boar, ostrich, reindeer, calamari, frog legs, antelope, elk, sea bass, gumbo, crawfish, and quite a few other treats.  I simply cannot remember all the meats served.  Each year the list seems to grow a bit.  Also, the beer.  What can I say?  ALL THE BEER YOU WANT!!  Meat and Beer!  How can it get any better?  Maybe throw in some incredible raffle prizes?  Exhibitions, games, contests.  Back to the beer -- how about rotating handles of craft beers? Utopia!

The ticket order forms will be arriving somewhere around the end of May to the middle of June.  When you get your form, order your tickets immediately.  Every year this event is sold out in just a few days, and I always receive messages from guys who got left out.  Sorry, but sold out means sold out.  Order quickly for best results.

Well, I was just looking at my beer glass and realized it doesn’t really matter if it is half full or half empty.  There is still half a year to go regardless.  But I’ll be ready when it gets here.

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Biggie—Year Nine—The Granddog

Biggie has been in my life for nine years now, and for this entire time he has been my part-time dog.  His mom is a friend who currently lives in a different city from my wife and me, but Biggie gets to come for regular visits for a few days at a time.  However, his current visit has lasted for over nine months, and I am beginning to forget he belongs to someone else.

Biggie’s mom is having trouble finding quality work and an affordable place to live.  While this is something most of us have experienced in our lives (past and/or present), it is making it difficult for her to keep Biggie at home and care for him properly.  Therefore, “Grandpa" and “Grandma" stepped in. 

We love this little doggie.  A lot.  But we never expected to have him for nine months and counting.  It’s like having a 2-year old with bad habits (or maybe it’s Grandpa with the bad habits), but still we love this little doggie.  A lot. 

Biggie brings us a lot of joy, fun, and laughter.  Everyday he does something fun to watch.  Lately he is starting out each day with a back scratch by crawling under my feet and moving back and forth so my feet do the scratching.  Needless to say, it wakes me up.  So does crawling up on me and licking my ear.  This, along with a series of doggie dances, ultimately gets me up.  As soon as I am vertical, he starts nudging me toward the kitchen for his breakfast. 

As he begins eating I start making breakfast for me, but Biggie considers it his second breakfast and does not allow me to walk away from the stove for any reason.  If I try to step over to the refrigerator, for instance, he will begin barking non-stop until I return to the stove.  He will allow me to leave the stove only if I am about to plate my (his second) breakfast.  He will even allow me a few bites of it before becoming worried I will eat all of it.  Ultimately he wins, and my plate gets a Biggie licking.

About two hours before sunset every day Biggie begins announcing he wants to go out.  Not outside, but out, as in “out to a park."  A walk around the neighborhood will sometimes be acceptable, but a park is always preferable, if not demanded.  So about 5 to 6 times each week, Biggie visits a local park where he gets the same exercise as when he takes a walk around the block.  In our back yard he can run free if he wants to do so, but everywhere else a leash is required.  But Biggie still prefers a park.

We have made several dog beds for him to sleep in and placed them around the house.  There is one in my workroom/office.  One is located under the bed in the bedroom, and one is located in front of our living room television, and he knows these are for him.  Just try to move one, and he will let you know to whom it belongs.  But that doesn’t mean he is confined to sleeping there.  Biggie will sleep where Biggie will sleep.  Last night my wife was working on a craft item and a large square of paper fell to the floor.  Biggie immediately claimed it as a bed.  He stepped onto it, scratched it a few times, circled around for a bit, then laid himself down and took a nap.  Later he abandoned it for a drink of water, and my wife picked it up.  When Biggie returned, he looked around for it, let out a low growl, and went over to a space between a lounge chair and the wall to lie down and stare at me for a while as though I had something to do with removing his new bed.

Biggie also has a number of small soft toys to play with.  For the most part he just lets them clutter up the floor around his beds, and he will rarely play with any of them.  And for Biggie, play never lasts more than just a couple of minutes at best, but Biggie knows what is his, and what is not.  When we bring home a new toy, he seems to know instinctly it is his.  Biggie likes to inspect the contents of every bag we bring into the house.  Groceries, clothes, hair care products, etc., it doesn’t matter, he just wants to look at and/or sniff everything entering our home.  Sometimes we will buy a toy for our neighbor’s toddler or newborn, and Biggie gives these a pass.  But if it is for him, he always knows it.

Recently we purchased a small toy for Biggie, but we didn’t give it to him immediately.  Somehow we got it past his inspection and hid it away for another time.  My wife put together a small box of kid's toys for the neighbor’s children to play with when they come to visit and included this small (unused) toy we had purchased for Biggie.  A few days went by, and the toddler came over for a visit, so his new toy box was brought out for him to go through.  Of course Biggie wanted to inspect the contents of this box.  As usual, Biggie examined the toys as each one was taken out of the box, and as usual, Biggie gave each one a pass, that is until his own toy was brought out.  Even though he had never seen it before, Biggie grabbed it and carried it over to his bed and sat there guarding it the remainder of the day.  How did he know?

Oh, how we spoil our “granddog.”  The only problem right now is that we can spoil him, but can't send him home.  We have to live with the results, but I’ll keep on spoiling him as long as I can.  He is worth it.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Enter the Doldrums

A new year is upon us.  Now everyone should have 2020 vision.  Sorry.  I couldn’t help it.

According to my calendar year, this year is actually 3 ½ months old.  In about 8 ½ months my year will close with the 52nd Annual Wild Game Feed, and I’ll start a new year.  The problem is, however, it’s 8 ½ months away – the equivalent of being stranded in the doldrums of one of the great oceans.  No wind.  No movement.  Nothing but a long, long wait, all the while hoping for some distraction to help speed up the passage of time.

Actually, there is much to do.  I’ll pack and repack my car several times to make certain I have everything I want to bring with me.  I’ll check the humidor every day at least once to be certain the cigars are there (minus one or two of course).  I'll look at the calendar a few times every day hoping a day or two got dropped from the month.  Actually, there is not much to do but wait.  And wait.  But it's worth the wait for the best Wild Game Feed anywhere.

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Friday, November 8, 2019

What An Honor!

Last night I was brought in as a member of the Annual Wild Game Feed.  And I am very humbled by this honor.

For more than 20 years I have attended this annual event and promoted it at every opportunity simply because I believe in the charities the AWGF supports.  In 2012 I began adding information about it to my blog just because I wanted to share this event with more people, and the response to my postings has been nothing short of phenomenal.  A few years ago I added a page of frequently asked questions I receive, and it is viewed almost every day by a number of people around the world. 

Throughout the year guys wanting to attend this event contact me, and I do my best to get them the information they need.  Many guys are now attending just because I was able to forward to them a copy of my ticket order form.  At no time did I ask for anything in return other than to stop by at the Feed and say ‘Hi.”  There is nothing else like the Feed, and I just want to share the fun with everyone.

The AWGF members recognized my efforts on their behalf and made me a member, and for this I am grateful.  Thank you.

See you at the Feed!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Blackberries

I was walking through the produce section of a local organic market when I spotted a sale on blackberries.  Immediately my thoughts turned to the cobblers my grandfather used to make after an afternoon of picking blackberries on the side of the roads around Fort Worth.

In the 1950’s many of the narrow secondary roads around Fort Worth were either dirt or crudely paved with asphalt.  If dirt, then the road had mud holes deep enough to "bottom out" a car.  If paved, then the road had potholes deep enough to “bottom out” a car.  Either way, the roads were an experience unto themselves.  Along the sides of any of these roads were bar ditches often filled with weeds, junk, and snakes, but in many places were wild blackberry vines.  And it was to these vines we would journey.

It was not unusual to fill every pot and bowl we owned with wild blackberries on a single outing.  It was also not unusual to disturb rabbits, snakes, wild dogs, and a skunk or two, making the adventure an adventure.  We would always come home with enough blackberries to fill our big chest freezer, and our arms would be a mess of scratches warranting half a bottle of Mercurochrome or Iodine.  Such fun!  And Papa would always make a blackberry cobbler.

For years I tried to duplicate the taste of Papa’s cobblers, but I didn't succeed.  But I won't call it a failure either.  After all, I got to eat a lot of blackberry cobbler.  It doesn’t get any better!

Saturday, September 21, 2019

2019 Wild Game Feed

Once again the members of the Annual Wild Game Feed at Irvine Lake have produced the biggest and best Feed to be found on earth.  And I do not believe that to be an overstatement of the facts.  Thank you AWGF members for your hard work and dedication to this event and to the charities this event supports.  And thank you to everyone who participated.  Without your ticket purchases and donations, this event would be nothing.

So now we (the ticket purchasers) have to wait another long slow year for the 52nd Annual Wild Game Feed on September 18, 2020, but it will be worth the wait as the AWGF members plan and prepare something even bigger and better.  Therefore, start saving your dollars, and don't hesitate to order your tickets the day you receive the order form.  The tickets will sell out again next year.

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Wild Game Feed Irvine Lake 2019

Three Weeks!  That’s all the time remaining until the start of the Greatest Feed on Earth!  The 51st Annual Wild Game Feed at Irvine Lake.  I hope you are as ready as I am.

I have been attending this event for over twenty years, and it just keeps getting better.  I’ve been to more than a few game feeds from different organizations in my lifetime, but nothing compares to this one.  Words aren’t enough to explain.  Attendance is the only way to find out.  So get ready.  It’s almost here.

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Friday, July 26, 2019

Irvine Lake 2019 Wild Game Feed

Eight Weeks!  That's how much waiting time until the 51st Annual Wild Game Feed at Irvine Lake.  I hope you purchased your ticket when the order forms finally became available, because I doubt there are any left now.  You might find a ticket on line somewhere, or someone may bring an extra to the Feed, but if you don’t have one right now, you may have to wait until next year.

Last year was the best it’s ever been, and this year promises to be even better.  Well, I’m ready for it.  The AWGF members have spent this past year working hard to improve perfection, and I expect them to do just that.  More food, more prizes, more events, more games, more fun! 

As always the party starts at noon (this year on Friday, September 20), but don’t forget the pre-party parties.  I've met guys who make a multi-day event of it by gathering the day before to have their own barbeque somewhere.  And there is always a party in line waiting for the gates to open on Friday.  Also, don’t forget, Saturday and Sunday can be used to party (or recover from the party).  The Feed is not just an “end of the summer” party, it is also a “beginning of autumn” party.  Okay.  Enough.  Guys don’t need much of an excuse to have a good time.  But, in my opinion, the Feed is still the best event a guy can go to.

So, I’m ready.  Are you?

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Monday, July 8, 2019

51st Annual Wild Game Feed

The order forms have FINALLY arrived (apparently the printer had equipment problems), and it’s time to order your tickets to the 51st Annual Wild Game Feed at Irvine Lake to be held on Friday, September 20, 2019.  I received my ticket order form in the mail today, and it is already back in the mail because I don’t want to miss out on the greatest Wild Game Feed anywhere.  If you also don’t want to miss it, your ticket order form needs to join mine very quickly (as in ‘Right Now').  The Feed will sell out really fast—most likely in just a few days.  Every year this event gets bigger and better; however, the number of tickets remains the same.  The park is at its limits as to the number of men it can hold, so don’t hesitate, or you will miss out.

If you have never been to this hoedown before, you have missed one of the best man gatherings anywhere.  Food, beer, games, events, prizes, and more food and beer.  For many years I've tried to describe on paper what happens at the Feed, but I have been woefully deficient in my expressions.  Basically it is like an enormous tailgate party, but the only way to fully understand is to attend. 

Once again I plan to fill my plates and bowls with alligator, wild game chili, gumbo, game sausages, quail, buffalo ribs, turkey nuts, frog legs, calamari, clams, tamales (I’m partial to the goat tamales), crawfish, game hen, salmon, sea bass, and a few other things.  These are just appetizers.  I may or may not have room for dinner (roasts of buffalo, elk, goat, ostrich, venison, etc.), but I’ll try anyway.  I’ll wash it all down with some beer, and follow it up with a cigar.  Maybe another beer. 

Every year I look forward to visiting old friends and meeting new ones; however, every year I receive a number of emails from guys who didn’t order their tickets in time, and they are frantically looking for a ticket, but I am not a member of the Feed.  I have no “insider’s track" to nab a ticket, nor can I “pull any strings” to get one.  If you don't order your ticket immediately—well, don't say you weren't warned.  I do hope to see you there again (or meet you for the first time) this year, so, one last time--Order Your Tickets Now!

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Changes

Today my wife and I were talking about how things have changed over the years.  It wasn’t a discussion about how things were better in the ‘60’s or ‘70’s, it was just an observation about changes.  For instance, I grew up with Twinkies costing a nickel a package.  When they jumped to a dime, I thought I was going to starve to death.

We have been privileged to witness the transition from a world without computers to the marvels of the Internet surrounding us.  The world of gourmet foods was only for the upper class not too long ago.  A telephone was strapped down to the walls for a long time, and now it’s unusual not to have one in our pocket.  Does anyone remember film?  How about a pocket calculator—never mind a slide rule?  Transistor radio?  How about defrosting the refrigerator?  Ice box?

My wife’s mother once told her about watching a movie projected onto the side of a barn back in the 1920’s.  It showed a train coming directly at the viewers, and they began to panic because their minds weren’t used to such realism.  Nowadays we watch almost any kind of action movie with a wide array of special effects, and we just sit and enjoy the movie.  Not often do we go into panic mode when something appears to be coming directly at us.

My mother’s mother remembered the first car she ever saw.  She described it as a light buggy with a motor and a paddle for steering.  My mother’s father used to talk about using wooden tools as an electrician (Sparky) in the navy a number of years before WWI.  I remember my mother trying to learn to drive a car with power steering and power brakes.  It took a while, and many bruises, for her to transition to such a luxury.

Even in my own (almost) seventy years, I’ve witnessed many changes.  Sputnik.  A man on the moon.  We had party line, crank box telephones.  Electricity was from a generator in back of one of the barns. How about well water?  Outhouse?  Wood burning stove?

I remember the good times of days long past, and I remember the bad times as well.  But I don’t long for the “good old days.”  I’m enjoying those right now.

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Sunburn

In the early 1970’s I loaded my canoe on top of my car and drove to a lake in northeast Texas.  It was called Lake Texarkana at the time I was there, but about a year later the name was changed to Wright Patman Lake.  A rose by any other name.  I was seeking a couple of days of solitude away from the endless business meetings of corporate life, and I thought exploring a lake I hadn’t seen before was just the thing for me.

The trip was an uneventful few hours as I drove the 190 miles from my home to Douglassville where I rented a room as my base of operations.  Since I had left my home at about 3am I had plenty of time to drive on over to the lake and launch my canoe, and long before noon I was well out on the water.   The idea was to simply explore, but I had brought with me some basic fishing equipment just in case a likely spot appeared. 

I paddled along the shoreline for about an hour as I soaked in the solitude and warm sun.  I found myself getting sleepy and decided to drop my anchor and do some “fishing” while taking a nap.  Best laid plans.  I dropped my line in the water, settled down in the bottom of the canoe where I could stretch out and lean back against the seat, and promptly fell asleep. 

While the nap was not unexpected, the next thing to happen was a shock.  I was awakened by the game warden.  He had drifted his boat up beside me to check on what appeared to him to be an empty canoe, but instead he thought he had found a body.  We were both relieved there was no lifeless body in my canoe, and he understood my explanation of seeking solitude from the rat race I lived in.  He had the opposite problem.  He sometimes drove into Texarkana just to be around people.

Since it was nearly 6pm he offered to tow me back to where I had launched my canoe, and I accepted.  I guess I had been asleep for about 3 or 4 hours when he awakened me, and I was acutely aware that my skin was quite burned.  If I had tried to paddle back to the launch area, I may not have made it. 

That night I visited a store where I could load up on baby oil, skin cream, and aspirin.  I hadn’t been sunburned since I was a kid, and I was not overly fond of what I was feeling.  I was able to lie flat on my back to try to sleep, but any movement make my skin feel like old brittle cellophane being crushed into a ball.  Not fun.  The next morning I loaded up my things and drove home.

Have you ever had a sunburn?  I believe I had rather have endless leg cramps.  Even worse is the aftermath as the skin tries to repair itself.  I had to return to the job of wearing a suit every day and giving presentations in different cities almost every day.  Burning, itching, peeling skin looks almost as bad as it feels, and having to travel around the country gave me very little time to try to solve the problem.

About six or seven weeks later I thought I was repaired and ready enough to go back to the lake to finish what I had started.  I wanted to explore this big lake, and this time I did not take either the fishing equipment or the canoe.  I decided to take along an old friend and rent a boat. 

Mike and I were out on the lake about 7am and were well prepared with extra fuel, water, lunch, and a huge pile of snacks.  We motored for a few hours exploring, snacking, and reminiscing our childhood.  We had had many adventures together as kids, and we were actually reconnecting after a few years apart.  About 1pm we found a spot near the shore where we could drop anchor and have lunch.  And a nap.  A long nap.

Mike woke me up, and I remember looking at the reddest person I had ever seen.  Then the pain hit me.  Not only had I done it again, but this time I had inflicted the pain on my friend as well.

The sun was going down as we finally returned to the boat landing.  The manager of the boathouse said we should see a doctor.  I think he was right, but we didn’t listen.  We spent the night bathing our skins in various oils and lotions, and attempting to cool off.  Nothing worked.  Needless to say a second day exploring the lake was out of the question for both of us.

We returned home and dealt with our problems in our own ways.  I saw Mike a couple of weeks later, and he was beginning to heal reasonably well.  But I was still ultra sensitive to the touch.  In fact, my new skin from the first burn was not fully developed before the second burn occurred.  For about six months afterward I found it difficult to go outside during the daytime without experiencing physical pain.  And for almost a year my skin had a pink to light red cast to it.  To make matters worse, I spent much of the next year in Spain where the hot sun is a way of life.

I know you are thinking, “Why didn’t you wear sunscreen?”  But to be honest, I didn’t really know about it.  I had heard of suntan lotions; however, I thought that suntan lotions were only for getting a suntan.  Live and learn.  And it’s a lesson I don’t want to learn again.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Snail Time

Recently my wife and I took some time to browse through a few antique boutiques, thrift stores, and just plain junk shops.  I grew up with many of the things in these stores as everyday items in my home, so basically I found it to be a trip through memory lane.  But there are always surprises and delights to be found that jog my thoughts in unexpected ways.  One item I saw was a rather large neon green ceramic snail with the shell encasing a clock in its spiral.

Many thoughts went through my mind almost immediately.  My first thought was, “Oh, man that's ugly!"  Then I noticed it was chipped, cracked, and crackled, and I thought, "Who would ever buy that!”  I reached over and looked at the price tag and thought, “!#@$%&*”  I also had a few other thoughts about the absurdity of this thing, but then it dawned on me that this is the perfect representation of waiting on the Annual Wild Game Feed at Irvine Lake to arrive each year. 

On the surface time moves forward at a constant rate with no measurable change in pace.  But there are times when it seems to move so slowly there is almost no perception of movement.  One of those times occurs for me about halfway through the year--not the calendar year, but the Wild Game Feed year.  This halfway point falls on the third Friday in March each year as the Feed is always on the third Friday in September.  From this day in March time moves forward so slowly I find it difficult to even notice.

Am I alone in this?  Does anyone else notice how time just seems to slow to a snail’s pace while waiting for the Feed?  On the plus side, this gives me plenty of time to prepare for the biggest and best man feast on planet earth.  On the minus side, it’s still six months away.  I’ve passed through this doldrum over twenty times, and I know the snail will eventually reach its destination, but the Wild Game Feed is still six months away.  Six long, slow moving, snail crawling months!

There is, however, an event much closer in time involving the Annual Wild Game Feed.  It’s the mailing of the ticket order forms.  That one usually happens about the end of May or the first part of June each year.  I hope you are saving your money guys, because when the forms arrive, they need to be returned immediately.  There can be no hesitation, or there will be no Game Feed for you this year.  The Feed sells out within days every year, and to hesitate is to miss out.  Then the snail will haunt you for an entire year. 

Whether snail time is long or short, this year’s Annual Wild Game Feed will happen on Friday, September 20, 2019.

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Biggie—Year Eight

I’ve received several inquiries as to when I’m going to post again, and I apologize for waiting so long.  I’ve been rather busy with a little white doggie and simply forgot about my writings.  Sorry.  But Biggie is just too much fun.

To me it is simply amazing that Biggie has been in my life for eight years.  He may be my part-time dog, but he is still a large part of my life.  There has been much to overcome for both of us, but it keeps getting better.  Eight years ago, I wanted nothing to do with him simply because I didn’t want to get attached, as I knew I would.  That quickly changed, and now I find it difficult to think of letting him go.  Hopefully that is still many years away.  Biggie is twelve years old now, and this summer he will turn thirteen, but I’m counting on many more years.

A couple of weeks ago Biggie came for a visit.  He stayed until last night before returning home to his mom, but during his stay with my wife and me he expected to be highly entertained.  Actually he provided most of the entertainment.

Biggie demands breakfast be served at exactly 6am every morning, and he understands it takes me about 15 minutes to wake up and prepare his breakfast.  Therefore, at 5:45 I get the wake-up call.  It starts with a simple hand lick.  Apparently I sleep with one hand over the edge.  At first I’m just hoping it was a dream, and I try to go back to sleep, but Biggie isn’t fooled.  The hand licks now include a few hind leg scuffs.  Then comes the front leg pawing.  When that doesn’t work, I get the dancing. 

By now my eyes are open, and he sees me watching him.  Every dance is different.  My favorite is the twist where he quickly turns back on himself (first right, then left) a few times.  This is followed by the dogtrot where he prances back and forth across the room. Then there is the dog hop where he literally hops around the room.  Biggie has his own versions of the funky chicken (funky dog), the jitterbug (jitterdog), and the boogie-woogie (doggie-woggie).  And the list goes on.

Since I’m enjoying the dancing more that getting up, Biggie now resorts to force.  My hand now gets a set of teeth attached to it (not hard, but he won’t let loose either), and Biggie will start to pull me out of bed.  The moment my feet touch the floor, he lets loose of my hand and starts to nip at my heels to herd me into the kitchen.  Once I’m in the kitchen he backs off as breakfast is prepared.  But if I try to leave the kitchen before he eats, he will block the door and not let me through. 

I usually go straight to my computer while he is eating, so as soon as he is finished, he finds me and stares at me until I pet him.  And pet him.  And pet him.  Now it’s time for him to take a walk.  I get dressed, I put his walking harness and leash on him, I take him to the door, I open the door, he looks outside, he turns around and runs under the bed.  I go back to the computer.  I know Biggie needs a walk.  Biggie knows he needs a walk.  Biggie wants my wife to take him.  My wife is still asleep, so Biggie decides to wait.  Apparently his walks with my wife are more fun than his walks with me.

Afternoon rides in the car are not just expected, they are demanded.  There was a time when I could put him in the car and take him around the block.  He would be a happy dog with just a short ride, but those days are over.  Long over.  Now he isn’t happy until we run out of gas.  Either that or I take him to a park where he can explore for a couple of hours.  And I had better not take him to the same park twice in a row.  Thank goodness there are more than twenty parks within a few miles of home.

His favorite park is the beach at White Point less than 5 easy miles from home.  It isn’t the classic sandy beach, but a rocky shoreline with old broken up concrete slabs and retaining walls from a 1920’s bathhouse resort.  It is filled with tide pools and shallow flat areas with almost no wave action.  Perfect for Biggie. 

Biggie has always had a fear of water.  When he first came our direction we had a small children’s plastic wading pool.  We put about 4 inches of water in it, and tried to place Biggie in the water.  I’ve never known a dog to exhibit such fear.  I won’t go into details, but we realized there was a big problem.  It took years to get him to trust us when just giving him a bath.  We could take him to a nearby dog beach, and he enjoyed playing in the sand and with the other dogs, but he would not go near the water.  However, at White Point Biggie won’t stay out of the water.  Go figure.  And he still hides at bath time.  And he will not step in a water puddle on his walks. 

The past two weeks were filled with Biggie Adventures, and I found myself quite occupied with being entertained by entertaining Biggie.  I’ll do my best to keep writing, but if there is another lapse in my postings, somehow Biggie will be responsible.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Fifty-One and Counting

It’s not often a backyard barbeque lasts for over fifty years, but the Annual Wild Game Feed at Irvine Lake is one of those rarities.  In the late 1960’s a few hunter and fisherman friends emptied their freezers for a backyard get-together, and had so much fun they decided to do it again the following year.  Each time they would meet up for the annual emptying of the freezers, a few extra friends would tag along, until one year they managed to outgrow the backyard.

It didn’t take long before they had to charge admission in order to cover costs, so they did it legally by incorporating as a not for profit group with monies being donated to various charities.  Over the years, this grew into what is now the biggest and best wild game feed I’ve ever attended.

This year I plan to attend the fifty-first Annual Wild Game Feed, and I hope to see you there.  As always, it’s the third Friday in September, (this year it’s September 20, 2019).  If you have been there before, you know what to expect, and you know that no words on a piece of paper (or computer screen) can adequately describe this event.  I’ve never been to any wild game feed I didn’t enjoy, regardless of who put it together, but the Annual Wild Game Feed at Irvine Lake is one of a kind.  Nothing else compares.  Nothing else comes close.

If you haven’t attended before, well, re-read the previous paragraph.  Every man who can possibly get to Southern California on the third Friday in September each year should experience this event.  However, the tickets are limited, and the few tickets available sell out quickly (as in QUICKLY!).  The last several years have seen the tickets disappear in just a matter of days after the order forms are made available in late May or early June.  Several guys have told me they overnight FedEx or UPS their order forms the very day they receive them in order to get their tickets.  Not a bad idea.

I’ve lost the memory of which year was my first one at the Feed, but I think this year is number twenty-one or twenty-two.  And every year is better than the last one.  And last year’s Feed was unbelievable. 

If you are interested in joining about 1,500 of your closest man friends (sorry, no ladies) this year in September, send me an email and I’ll add you to my mailing list.  My email address can be found under the tab “AWGF FAQ’s.”  The very day I receive my order form, I’ll send you an electronic copy for your use.  Just don’t hesitate to place your order.

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Friday, December 7, 2018

Two Dog Nights

Biggie and Sir are BFF’s.  They enjoy being neighbors, taking walks together, and playing together.  But until this week they have never had an overnighter.  Although they are still best friends, a few jealousies have crept into their relationship.

As I have written before, Biggie is my part-time dog.  My wife and I have looked after him on a part-time basis for many years now.  At first it was everyday while his mom was at work, and then after we both moved, it has been visits for a few days to a couple of weeks at a time. 

Sir belongs to one of Biggie’s mom's new neighbors.  Sir is a little white poodle, and Biggie not only likes Sir, but he enjoys being with Sir.  This is the only time Biggie has ever wanted to be with another dog.  But Sir seems to feel the same way about Biggie.

Sir’s mom became ill and had to be hospitalized for over a week, and Biggie's mom took up the reins to oversee the recovery of her neighbor.  Both Sir and Biggie needed a place to stay during this time, so my wife and I turned our home into a two-dog kennel.  I thought keeping up with Biggie was tough enough.  Oh, was I in for a surprise.  Overall it was a good experience, and we were very happy to provide these two doggies a safe haven while their worlds were in turmoil.  But there was a learning curve for all parties involved. 

What we did for one dog had to be done for the other dog.  If one of us picked up Biggie, Sir needed to be picked up.  If one dog went for a walk, both dogs had to go for a walk.  If one got a treat, both had to have a treat.  If one dog got a bath, the other dog disappeared completely.  Baths are the only thing they did not wish to share.

I was surprised to discover they ate the same amounts of the same food each day.  This was purely coincidence, but it made my life a bit easier.  I placed their food in separate dishes and showed them which one was theirs, and they had no problem with this.  They didn’t try to eat each other’s food, but they did check out what and how much the other was getting. 

Biggie is not exactly a snuggly, cuddly, or playful dog, but Sir is.  However, anytime Sir found a lap to snuggle in, Biggie would go into non-stop barking mode.  He still didn’t want to snuggle, Biggie just didn’t like it that Sir was getting something he wasn’t getting.

Everywhere we went, we had two dogs with us.  Everything we did, we had two dogs with us.  Every meal involved two dogs.  Every conversation included two dogs.  Every time mail was delivered, again, two dogs.  Well, for about ten days, my wife and I got absolutely nothing done that didn’t relate to “two dogs.”  We are very busy people, and getting behind in projects creates havoc for us, but I would do this again in a heartbeat--although, I hope it's a long time before it happens again.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Tomatoes


I spent much of my formative years on a working farm.  It was there I learned the basics of raising various crops for food—or so I thought.  It seemed easy when my grandfathers or uncles were in charge of things.  They always knew just what to do when things changed.  And things were always changing.  Rain, wind, hot sun, high humidity, bugs, big bugs, birds, rodents, etc., were always a problem to face.  I just didn’t realize how big the problems were until I planted a few tomatoes last spring.

It seemed easy enough.  I had three frames for shallow raised beds laid out on the ground where the sun would reach them about 8 to 9 hours each day.  I filled them with quality soil and amendments, and covered them with weed cloth and mulch.  I cut holes into the surface and planted eight tomato plants, two tomatillos, and eight pepper plants.  I gave them a good soaking, and sat down to admire my garden of four-inch high green twigs.  After a couple of hours I went into the house.

The following morning I rushed out to check on my new garden.  (Actually I got dressed first, had breakfast, worked on my computer, and did a few other things before I remembered the garden.)  My tomato plants were already a full inch taller than the day before, but the pepper plants were exactly the same.  I was disappointed.  I expected to have tomatoes and peppers by now.  Oh, well. 

It was about two weeks later before I realized the pepper plants were not showing much improvement.  Certainly they were bigger and had more leaves, but the leaves were wrinkled and had holes in them.  I also noticed the tomato plants were showing some leaf stress.  What do I do now?  My grandfathers and uncles are long ago gone from this earth, so I turned to the internet.  Oh Good Grief!!

First I addressed the leaf stress in the tomatoes.  According to the internet the causes were not enough water, too much water, not watering often enough, watering too often, too much sun, not enough sun, too much wind, not enough wind, humidity too high, humidity too low, white flies, lady bugs, honey bees, aphids, birds, squirrels, and noise from having a freeway within five miles.  So I decided to look up the pepper problems.

Apparently (according to the internet) my peppers were stunted from a lack of calcium, they had wrinkled leaves from a lack of calcium, but they had holes in them from too much calcium.  It was time to cry.  When I had regained my composure, I thought a trip to a nearby reputable nursery was in order.

I left the nursery with a car full of amendments and fertilizers, an empty wallet, and a stunned look on my face.  But I did what I was told, and in a few days all of the plants began to show signs of improvement, and after about nine weeks I had tomatoes and peppers forming.  I also had more bugs than I thought possible.  I think an entomologist would have a field day identifying new species in my garden.  I believe there are at least four.  Maybe more.

What was I thinking when I reached back to my farmer days and decided to plant a small garden?  I know I was remembering the taste of vine-ripened tomatoes picked and eaten out of hand in the field.  I know I was remembering the times I picked fresh jalapenos for breakfast.  I seemed to have forgotten the volume of work it takes to bring a crop to the table.  I also forgot that I wasn’t the one making all the decisions necessary to raise a successful crop.  And I forgot about the insects.

Well, a hot spell cooked the tomatoes and peppers.  When the tomatoes and peppers are charred on the vine, it’s just too hot to continue, but the few that ripened were worth all the trouble.  There is no substitute for ripe tomatoes and peppers right off the vine.  Next year I’ll try again, but this time I’m adding some corn to the planters.  I may not be a good farmer, but I can’t deny my roots.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A Biggie Adventure

Biggie is a very attentive dog.  He knows what is going on around him at all times, even if he appears to be sleeping.  For instance, I was in the kitchen doing some dishes and other kitchen maintenances while Biggie was asleep in the living room.  At one point I was wiping down the outside of the refrigerator, rinsing out the cleaning cloth, and continuing to wipe down the refrigerator.  Biggie did nothing.  But the moment I touched the refrigerator door handle, Biggie was under my feet waiting for me to open it.  Somehow he knew when I touched that handle, and he knew I was about to open it.  It didn’t matter that I had been grabbing that handle for the last ten minutes during the cleaning process.  The big difference was that I was about to use that handle to open the refrigerator.  Biggie is like that, and if you have a dog, you know exactly what I mean.

Biggie’s adventures are usually rather benign, but occasionally there is something to write home about.  If I were to tell you that an average day’s adventure consists of sniffing every blade of grass on a walk around the block, or standing in one place sniffing a single spot for fifteen minutes, it would be somewhat boring since this is what all dogs do.  It might be a bit more interesting if we went to the park and he chased a squirrel or two, but again, this is what all dogs do.  Just about anything I could come up with to talk about concerning Biggie is what all dogs do, including his brief encounter with a skunk.  Almost all dogs encounter a skunk at one time or another, but unlike chasing a squirrel up a tree, some of these encounters can be rather memorable.

Last night Biggie walked over to the front door and scraped his back foot.  Then he walked over to where I was sitting and placed his nose against my leg for a moment before walking back to the door.  This is a signal to me he wants to go for a walk, so I decided to take him out (believe me when I say it’s better than deciding not to take him out).  When I opened the door Biggie ran over to my wife signaling he wanted her to join us.  Okay.  So all of us stepped outside together.

Now, usually when Biggie goes outside, he is wearing a harness and leash, but this time I decided to forego the hassle, since he doesn’t run away except to inspect something nearby.  Even then he will come back the moment we call him.  Besides, I was going to make this a quick whiz in the yard.  As we stepped onto the porch, there was a rustling in the bushes along side of the house, and Biggie ran over to inspect.  I saw a flash of something black and white, and my first thought was of the neighbor’s cat that Biggie wanted for a friend, but then I saw it turn around and the tail raise high into the air.  Biggie had just come face to tail with his first skunk.  Biggie froze, the skunk ran away around the corner of the house, and there was no doubt that skunk left something behind.

Although Biggie took the full force of the blast, my wife and I were peripheral casualties.  My wife immediately picked Biggie up and carried him into the house for a bath, and now the entire house has been transformed into a skunk’s den.  Oh well.  I mixed up a batch of anti-skunk-odor dog wash and Biggie got a bath.  My wife got a bath.  I got a bath.  Our clothes are hanging outside in the fresh air, although they may need to be burned.  And our house…  Our house has every window open and every fan on.  And the smell outside the house will insure no solicitor comes to our front door for a while. 

This morning Biggie altered his morning walk to include the infected area around the house where he thoroughly marked his territory.  Again on a second walk, he double marked his territory.  This is Biggie’s house, and skunks aren’t welcome.

What is it about dogs and skunks?  Growing up in farm country, every dog I knew had managed to spend some time in a tomato juice bath in a futile attempt to diminish the effects of the encounter with a skunk.  I have never known a dog to win the battle.  My friend Frank’s dog once thought he had managed to become victorious, but in the end he was the biggest loser of all, along with the entire neighborhood.

Chunk was a solid dog, much like a pit bull, and he was very curious, as many dogs are.  About three or four blocks away from the block where Frank and I lived across the street from each other was a small area of scrub oak trees on a piece of land not yet cleared for new housing.  This was a great place for my friends and I to go and pretend we were hunters or something.  Usually one of the guy's dogs would join us, and on one fateful day it was Chunk who was the chosen one.

Chunk was doing Chunk things when I heard Rick or Mike or someone shout something.  About that time I saw Chunk running down the street towards home holding some object in his mouth.  Behind Chunk were several skunks giving chase.  Behind the skunks was Frank frantically chasing after his dog. 

I know once a skunk releases his stuff, there is very little left for a second shot, although very little goes a long ways.  And the skunk in Chunks mouth had reinforcements not far behind.  I’ve never experienced anything quite like this before or since.  People were coming out of their houses for several blocks and fanning the air as they looked around for the source of the problem.

Chunk ran for several blocks before releasing his captive, and then he went into hiding not fully realizing his location was easy to sniff out.  As quickly as he would find a good spot, someone would chase him away.  The problem was he would leave behind strong evidence that he had been there.  For a couple of days Chunk broadcast his adventure around the neighborhood before returning home.  As for the skunks themselves, it seems they informed the neighborhood for several weeks they were not to be disturbed in the future. 

Well, Biggie’s encounter with the skunk hasn’t really taught him anything, and I do not believe for one second the skunk thinks it is over.  I just hope the house airs out in the near future.  And Biggie will definitely be on a leash from now on.

Friday, September 21, 2018

2018 Wild Game Feed

Well, it’s over, and I almost don’t know what to say.  Almost.  The 50th Annual Wild Game Feed at Irvine Lake was unbelievable to say the least.  We were promised the biggest and best wild game feed possible, and the AWGF members delivered beyond our wildest dreams.

Thank you to everyone that participated either as a member or a guest.  You made this year’s Feed a standard for comparison to any and all other wild game feeds around the country.  And nothing I know of can compare.  The best is simply the best.

Now the plans begin for next year’s Feed, and my plans are to return once again.  I deem it a privilege to be a part of the charitable fundraiser, and I hope you feel the same way.  For me to participate is to have fun, but I cannot forget that for me to participate is to give to others help and opportunities otherwise unavailable. 

Today I will unpack my car and carefully store my things away until tomorrow when I will start the process of preparing for next year’s Feed.  Just because the 50th anniversary bash was the best Feed ever doesn’t mean the next Feed will be less.  In fact, every year improves over the previous Feed, so expect the next one to be ‘over the top’—again.

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Annual Wild Game Feed Creed

Two more weeks.  It’s almost here, and I’m ready, but I’ve been ready for almost a year.  This year is the 50th Anniversary of the Feed, and rather than write a few paragraphs about it, I thought something different would be more appropriate.  The Annual Wild Game Feed sends out a copy of their creed most years with their ticket order form, and I decided to reprint it here as a reminder to everyone of what this shindig is about. 
  
Annual Wild Game Feed Creed

“We, the members of the Annual Wild Game Feed, declare that the old traditions of the Western Territories of the United States are alive at this beginning of the twenty-first century.

Since the early 19th century it has been the tradition on this part of the North American Continent that hunters, fishermen, mountain men, and outdoorsmen would once each year gather to trade game, food, furs, provisions and experiences.  Through this gathering, men of high education or of keen business sense formed life long friendships, initiated a sense of community in that vast wilderness and gained respect for this region and for all its wealth.  These conventions were known as the “summer rendezvous.”

Lest such tradition fade completely into memory, the Annual Wild Game Feed is hereby created and dedicated to the preservation of the summer rendezvous and for all that it means to the modern hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen.  That the community of the West still survives to preserve for the future of our young and old alike, the rights of hunters, fishermen and outdoorsmen, to enjoy and continue to experience the wilderness and wealth that still exists but is perilously close to extinction.

It is for these purposes that the Annual Wild Game Feed is organized and dedicated and resolves to raise funds for donations to such other non-profit and charitable or public benefit organizations similarly situated, either in part or in full, for the preservation of the traditions of the American West outdoorsmen’s experience for all generations to come.

Accordingly, at noon on the third Friday of each September, the Annual Wild Game Feed will hold its annual event, serving game and beverages to its members to celebrate the Western tradition of the summer rendezvous and raise funds for charitable organizations.”

Sounds good to me.

See you at the Feed!

Meat and Beer!