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What I Did On My Thanksgiving Break (Part 2)

Oh yeah…  I almost forgot to continue this post.  Thank you to the throngs of folks that sent me requests to end the suspense and finish the saga.  It’s a good thing there were 3 spam comments on WIDOMTGB Part 1 – it reminded me I only got half way through sharing my vacation adventures.  We continue:

Day 6 – Nov. 29:  More Hunting!
Noah has yet to get his deer – poor kid.
So early we rise again.  To the faithful morning spot where a few days ago I successfully harvested (the PC way to say it) Elliot…

Poor fella doesn't look so right from the other side - malformed antler. But this side looks great!

I'm so proud I took this fella' out of the gene pool... Can't have too many lopsided deer running around.

This morning we don’t see a thing.  We sit there for a few hours until Noah calls it quits and we head to the house.  Where I promptly fall asleep.

Sleeping out there, be it in cabin or field, is just the best.  I almost like to sleep out there more than the actual hunting.

*Flashback to Fall Turkey Season 2010 – dreamy image – chimes sounding*
At the edge of a draw several yards apart are two blinds.  In the first is my friend and his nephew.  The second has me and my boy.  In an Elmer Fudd voice, “Shhh… we hunting tewkey.”   -kind of.

We got there early.  Got comfy.  Whispered for a while.  Got sleepy.  Sleepily passed out – both of us.
We wake up some time later and look to the field.  Just outside of shooting range are some turkey (or is it  turkeys?).  If we can just get them closer, we can take a couple home with us…

After what seems like hours of calling, and hoping, and praying the turkey walk off into the distance and all hope is gone.  We give up and head to the other blind.

“Why didn’t you shoot!?!” Is the friendly greeting.
“What do you mean?  They were just out of range,” I defend.
“No man!  They were right by your blind – I mean you could have almost reached out and grabbed one!”
“Really?!  That must have been when we were sleeping,” my boy exposes.
“Yeah – that explains it…  They were so close to your blind, when you didn’t take a shot we almost did – but then something spooked them and that’s when they were just out of range…”
The boy quickly jumps back in, “Oh!  That must have been dad’s snoring – it’s what woke me up too.”
*Dreamy image – chimes sounding – back to the future*

Early this afternoon we went back out…  this time look who’s sleeping:

My boy

Like father, like son.

No deer – I call it quits.  I got my deer Saturday, I’m good to go.

Later my friend and the boy decide to give it one last go – still a few hours of day light, maybe they can get Noah a buck.  Back to field they go.  No doubt they set up, get comfy, and nod off – until…

A scan of the field shows movement.  Just behind the tree line there’s a buck moving.  Stir the boy, get ready, adrenaline flows.  There’s more movement – in the middle of the field – what is it?  A coyote?  Nope – a bob cat.

Whispering, “Hey, Noah…  do you want a bobcat or a deer?”  My friend asks my boy.
“A deer.  Why, is there a bobcat?”
“Yeah, right in the middle of the field.  Looks like he’s looking for a deer too.”
After a few minutes of waiting and watching, “Noah, if that cat comes to us – I’m gonna’ have to shoot him.”
Noah gets curious, “I want to see him – where is he?”
“I’ve got him in my sights…”
“Well, can I see?”

The boy starts fidgeting trying to line the cat up in his scope.  But the cat lines him up first and starts creeping towards them.  My friend quickly explains to Noah that if the cat comes for them there will be a point where it’s going to be shoot the cat or become dinner – and he isn’t too interested in hand-to-paw combat with an adult bob cat.

The cat keeps coming.  50 yards.  My friend lines up his shot…  40 yards.  Closer the cat creeps.  30 yards.  Why doesn’t the cat just stop.

20 yards.  The deer are no doubt about to eat their Wheaties (har-de-har-har, it’s a wheat field they’re sitting near) for dinner!  15 yards…

BANG!

The cat and deer retreat…  No blood, no trail, no trophy, no stuffed cat – BUT, on the bright side, my son didn’t become Meow Mix either.

Day 7… Through 11 – Nov. 30 & Beyond: Vacation?

We got back in town Tuesday night.  Ready for some lazy home time before going back to work Monday.  No big plans – and it’s a good thing too…  Because at 8:30 Wednesday morning my cell phone starts singing U-2’s “Beautiful Day.” (I’ll explain the ring-tone in this post over here) Which means my boss misses me…  Why is my boss calling half way through vacation?  Can’t be a good sign.

Yup…  life happens and the company will have to bar the doors if I don’t immediately spring into action and spare it from sudden destruction.  (Yes, that is totally laced with sarcasm – it was really not a big deal at all)

So I spend a few hours of each of the remaining days of my vacation either in person visiting my store, or on the phone with various members of the royal family taking care of business – overall it was a great vacation…

Learned a lesson, though –
While on vacation: Spend every possible minute far, far away from cell phone reception!


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Posted by on January 13, 2012 in My Life

 

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A Conversation With My Deceased Dad

A Conversation With My Deceased Dad

Well…  You topped my Christmas tree this year.  Kimberly saw somewhere that someone used pictures of family and friends to decorate their tree and liked the idea – so we did it.  Since we think of you often we put you up top…  front & center.

It’s been eight years already, eight years today.  This one seems to have been the toughest for me.  I feel like I’ve spoken to you more this year than I did when you were alive – which makes me feel like a pretty crappy son.  But I imagine – or hope, maybe – that lots of folks have these conversations with their loved ones that have gone on.  And I imagine we all think we’re crazy.  Of course, crazy doesn’t bother me a bit – Ha!

Let me get right to what I wanted to say…

Thank You.
There’s no doubt in my mind you knew how much all three of us kids (four later on, counting Steph) loved and appreciated you.  You stepped in (no pun intended) when life went weird and always treated us as your own.  I still confuse people when I talk about my dads…  they never really know which one I’m talking about.  It would be easier if I referred to you as my step-dad I suppose, but I feel that would be incredibly disrespectful because we never were step-kids – always simply your kids.  (There was one time I referred to dad as my “real” dad…  and mom quickly asked, “Well, what’s Steve then?  Your fake dad?  Is he made of plastic?”  … so the world will just have to figure out who I’m talking about on their own.)
It had to be awkward and difficult for you too… Even if it never did seem to be an issue.  I love how you made sure we understood we just had a bigger family than most.  So – Thank you!

An Example.
Just so you know…  I don’t really remember much from before you.  Bits and pieces, maybe.  I’m sure I was old enough that I should remember more – But, my first real memory is the day you and mom woke us up while we were at dad’s house.  I remember all meeting in the living room and how weird it was to see you, mom, and dad together (I’m pretty sure their was a police officer there too – which was just as weird as you waking us up at dad’s house).  And then y’all explaining how we were going to go live with you and mom.  I really have no idea how I felt about it at the time, but it’s clear to see everything worked out just the way it was supposed to.  Your tact, your presence, your calmness about it all – well, again, just thank you.
I see so many broken homes and blended families today that are incredibly dysfunctional – where the kids are so much more grown up than the adults, where the adults yell and fight each other over trivial things…  and I thank God you guys didn’t act like that.

Regrets.
I have avoided regrets and live with very few of them.  Very few.  I really can think of just a couple – but one of them is that I didn’t go to your wedding in Texas.  Sure, I was working and taking off isn’t an easy thing to do.  BUT, for your wedding, surely my boss would have let me go – he was kind of a push over in many ways anyhow.  I can’t even remember why I thought it wasn’t a big enough deal to miss work…  I was just STUPID.  I had no animosity or qualm with you, the wedding, Kim & Steph…  Nothing, I just didn’t think – and I missed one of the biggest days of your life.  Sorry!  If I could go back and change it, I would in a heartbeat.

Holiday Wishes.
I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately.  Not just because it’s December, mainly because of some advice I’d like to get from you…  Although there are certain times of the year I can’t help but think of you:

Of course December is hard… December 27.  You held on through Christmas.  Man it’s hard.  I make myself put up Christmas lights, I force myself to get in the Holiday spirit – because as much as you pretended to put on a “Bah Hum Bug” front, you always made Christmas big for us.  So I want to do it for my kids too…  But you leaving two days after Christmas makes it difficult sometimes.

Every June…  your birthday, Father’s Day.  It’s ironic to me how you were born just 2 days after Father’s Day (and so every few years your birthday was on Father’s Day) and you were such an awesome father, yet you never had children of your own.

Every Thanksgiving.  Mainly because of our last Thanksgiving together.  How you knew it was the last, and so you gathered us all together.  I suppose I learned from my mistake of missing your wedding – I wasn’t missing it.  To be honest, I didn’t really believe you when you said you thought this may be your last Thanksgiving and you weren’t sure if you’d be here for Christmas.  When you took me to your bedroom, and told me how proud of me you were.  When you explained that you wanted me to take the rocking chair that you got for your first Christmas, and how you took care of it for your entire life – and you didn’t want it ruined, or abused, but you wanted my kids to have it and enjoy it – and you knew I’d take care of it…  We have.  I cherish that little chair.  The kids have just about grown out of it, but I plan on passing it down to one of them someday.

The Chair

 

Advice.
So, that advice I mentioned.  You were always so big into working for yourself, and insistent on being your own boss…  You did it twice – creating your own business, even when you had to work at a job, you had something independent of that.  I’ve kicked it around and have an idea or two I’d love to try (no, dad – I won’t be leaving my corporate job anytime soon; this is something I can build while working my day gig), but don’t have the experience you had.  I wish you would have shared the nuts-and-bolts of entrepreneurship with me.  I was so proud of you when you opened the car lot…  I don’t suppose you wrote it all down step-by-step and left it lying around somewhere did you?  I bet you’d just tell me to go read so-and-so’s book too, but surely, you’ve got some great wisdom to share…

Family Update.
The kids are doing great.  Noah is 10 already – time is flying, he’s a pretty smart kid, but a bit like his daddy and going to get in trouble if he doesn’t learn when to quit joking and be serious.  Kaity, she was so tiny when you left… 8 years old now, and beautiful, and just as sweet as can be.  We had a third a few years ago – in June.  The due date was right around your birthday, so we were hoping to have her on your birthday, or Father’s Day.  She came on the 22nd, though, we named her Annabelle Stephanie Leigh – it was going to just be Annabelle Leigh, but we wanted to honor you.  She’s our wild child – full of fire…
I’ll have to let the others tell you how they’re doing.  It’s been a tough ride.

Religion.
Yes – we’re still apart of that “cult.”  Although, I’m pretty sure you understand it’s not a cult anymore.  I remember when you told me, “Too many people die in the name of Jesus and God.”  My thought was (even if I couldn’t tell you at the time), “That’s more of an argument for Jesus than against Him…”  The very fact that people throughout history have thought so much about their Deity that they would willingly die for it tells me it’s pretty important.  You were always a pretty strong patriot – you always appreciated the military folks, and those that founded our nation because they thought so much about our liberty they were willing to die for it.

Trusting God is what has gotten me through these years.  I have no idea how folks do it without Him.  I can’t understand how people (as common as it is) blame Him, and walk away from Him when something like this happens…  I’ve been so grateful that He’s a big enough God that when I want to sob, and ask “WHY?”  He can handle it…  He can listen to me and not get angry with my ignorance.  Of course He understands pain and loss…

Gotta Go.
Anyhow, what’s done is done and there’s no changing it now.  You lived a short but full life…  You made a difference in at least 4 kid’s lives.  You were your own man, loved people, dreamed big.  I’ll leave all the judging up to the Judge.  

Someone (Uncle Gerry maybe?) keeps your grave looking nice – which made me proud since I don’t get to make it up there hardly ever…

The kid’s will be getting up soon…  So it’s time for me to make today the best day for them possible.  Tonight we’re going to go out to eat, stop by the church to pray, then take them, to see a cool Christmas Light display – the family that put’s it on collects food for the food bank, pretty cool deal…

Anyways, I love and miss you – and here’s one last picture – of Anna in your rocking chair…

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in My Life

 

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What I Did On My Thanksgiving Break (Part 1)

This year – my 15th working for this great company – I decided to take the week after Thanksgiving as vacation.  Crazy…  The first days of the Christmas shopping season and I am off.  No big deal, it’s a slow week for groceries – everyone is still eating Thanksgiving leftovers. 
Since I skipped my days off leading up to Thanksgiving the plan was to tack those 2 extra days on to vacation, along with my days off for the following week…  So let’s make it an 11 day week starting on Thanksgiving Day.

Day 1 – Nov. 24:  Thanksgiving
A traditional Thanksgiving Day at the In-laws…
Eat turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and *burnt rolls. There were a few other items, but this guy wasn’t touching them – potatoes are not meant to be bright orange, or sweet, or eaten with marshmallows and apples… and casserole is a cuss word to me – keep it away.
Then while everyone else watches the Detroit Lions lose a football game, I fall asleep and entertain the family with my sleep apnea.
Then – because I have workaholic tendencies and am a glutton for punishment – I spend the overnight hours (8:30pm – 4:00am) “helping” control the materialistic masses at a local Supercenter for the “Black Friday” sales that some how started at 9:23pm (approximately) on Thursday.

*Every year there is at least one item that **HAS to be messed up… this year it was just the rolls – Thankfully!
**I love my mother-in-law, but must say I am thankful my wife is a MUCH better cook than she is.

Day 2 – Nov. 25: Event Day
Get off work around 4 am – head home and sleep for a few hours. Then the real vacationing begins.
Load up the truck with food, clothes, Mickey the Mauser, plenty of ammo, wife, daughters (son was able to leave the night before), and wife’s friend (I’m not claiming her) to head to “the farm.”
I love the farm. Electricity, heat, running water, a sky full of stars, but no cell phone, no Facebook, no noise (unless you count coyotes and cattle). Us guys were able to spend the afternoon in field, searching in vain for the “Big One” – Bambi’s Daddy.

Generally after dark we get to wind down by playing a game of spades – guys dominating the girls…  But, instead, the girls decide to drive to town to visit Walmart.  Arghh – at least we didn’t have to go.

Day 3 – Nov. 26: Hunting
It’s amazing to me how easy it is to wake up at 5:30 am while on vacation and anticipating sitting in a tree in below freezing temperatures, with 40 mph winds howling around you, and rain falling from the sky… Now – if it were 5:30 am and I had a regular workday ahead of me it is a battle to get my head off the pillow.  Yet there I was – happily donning 5 layers of clothing, slinging my 8mm rifle, sitting in the cold, wind, rain with my 10-year-old son next to me.

With nothing to do but wait – we sit, we nap, we watch, we nap some more, we watch some more.

This is a faithful early morning spot.  Every time we’ve been there by 9 am we have seen plenty of deer pass through.  Today is my day to take one of them home.  At 8:30 am sharp, my buck comes walking by.  No buck fever, steady breathing, nerves of steel, adrenaline pumping. I take aim, I squeeze the trigger – click.

Oops, I forgot to chamber the round…  Doh! 

It’s ok, this deer doesn’t have the best hearing.  Round chambered. No buck fever, steady breathing, nerves of steel, adrenaline pumping. I take aim, I squeeze the trigger – BANG!

Deer runs about 40 yards and stops to look at me.  Since he is still standing, and I am not interested in chasing him around the woods… 

No buck fever, steady breathing, nerves of steel, adrenaline pumping. I take aim, I squeeze the trigger – BANG! 

Two steps and down he goes – no chasing required.  Here’s a picture of his good side:

Poor fella doesn't look so right from the other side - malformed antler. But this side looks great!
Elliot – one antler doesn’t look so good.

I like early kills.  It gives you plenty of time to dress it, skin it, and drive it into town to get it processed without having to worry about icing him down all night.  The best part is that by 2:30 pm we’re back out in the field.  And with mine out of the way we have the entire rest of the trip to focus on getting my son his first deer!

 Day 4 – Nov. 27: Sunday
Sunday school, lazy afternoon, Sunday evening worship service…  Love Sunday’s.  Then after church head back to the farm!

Day 5 – Nov. 28: Hunting
Another 5:30 morning.  Today we’ll hunt another great spot.  Trudge through the wheat field, and sit along the fence looking out over another field where the deer love to play.  I am definitely a little nervous at this spot.

*Flashback to 2009 – dreamy image – chimes sounding*
Along this same fence, sitting in a tree stand.  I was visited by not 1, or 2, but FIVE not-so-friendly bobcats.  It was definitely a mom and her 4 babies.  She was definitely teaching them how to stalk prey.  I got to be their prey.  Yay me. 

The bobcats surrounded MY tree and began hissing at me.  I was really not scared at the time.  These cats were pretty small, surely they would see the error of their way and run off.  I sure didn’t want to shoot my rifle at these things and scare the deer away. 

When two of them started climbing my tree – I decided I would have to shoot their momma and worry about the deer later.  As I turned to line up the shot, they scattered – and I was able to go back to hunting peaceably…  albeit with my ears tuned to the area around the base of the tree.

As soon as I got back to the farm-house I did some research and learned:
1. Bobcat season was open all the way through January 1st.
2. It’s pretty rare to see a bobcat in this area.
3. Bobcat prey on turkey, and mostly small prey – but are known to take down deer too…  if they could take a deer, they could take me.  Next time – shoot first, worry about scaring the deer away second.
*Dreamy image – chimes sounding – back to the future*

It looks like some one else has found this spot too.  They have a feeder set up in the north-east corner of the field – 250 yards away.   I’m glad they’re not here this morning.  My son needs a deer.  Again, sit for hours, nap, watch, listen for cats, nap, watch, listen for cats.  Oh look!  Another buck – way down by the feeder.  The boy stirs, adrenaline starts warming him up.  It’s 8:45 am – we watch from a distance for 30 minutes – no clear shots, can’t get him closer, the deer heads back into the woods – the boy has to go to the bathroom.  If we make it quick, we can get to the farm-house, let him do his thing, grab some breakfast, and be back in the field by 10 am – further along the fence toward the feeder a little bit.

We made it quick.  Much better spot – with a great view of the entire field.  Plenty of shooting angles.  Time for waiting, and watching, and napping.  The boy wakes me up right around 11 am:

“Psst – dad, look!”  Right there, 25 yards away, are three doe.  Momentarily paused in the middle of the field looking around for danger.

“Well, get your gun up.  Be slow.  Wait for them to stop moving.  Line it up, take your time.”  The doe bound off across the field.  No good shot.  But we’re both awake for a little while now.  There’ll be more.

Twenty minutes later, there are more.  Five more.  They cautiously come out and make their way to the middle of the field.  Very close to where we are.  These are moving slow, stopping every now and then to have a look-see.

Me to son: “Are you gonna shoot one?”

Son to me: “I think I want to wait for a buck – you shoot one.”

Okay…  I’ll shoot one…  Quickly line it up while they pause – squeeze the trigger – BANG!

She doesn’t go down.  We’re close enough, and my gun is powerful enough – she should have.  Instead, she runs a few steps, does one of those beautiful deer leaps, and runs with the others down a draw and into the woods.

Doh!  I must have missed.  I shouldn’t have rushed the shot.  Oh well, it’s lunch time.

We go back out that evening – but don’t see anything… 

And this is way too long – so:
To Be Continued…
Tune in next time to see if the boy gets his deer.

 
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Posted by on December 2, 2011 in My Life

 

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What is a Whoopie Pie?

Whoopieeeeeeee

This, my friends, is a Whoopie Pie.

By definition (according to Encarta World Dictionary) a “whoopie pie” is – (noun) – two-layer filled cake; a cake consisting of two layers with a moist filling.

That’s kind of redundant, isn’t it?  But then again – so is my definition of them:
Nom Nom Nom – nom-nom-nom-nom.

A whoopie pie is one of those strange “New England” things that is in my blood and still causes me to receive funny looks when my Oklahoma friends hear me talk about…  much like the “bubbler.”  A “bubbler” everywhere else in the world is called a water fountain – but in my world it’s a bubbler.

Recipe:
Whatever – you’re not getting mine… 
But if you google it you can find one. 
OR you could go to Walmart (Neighborhood Market on Rockwell & Hefner in OKC) and buy the Pillsbury boxed mix.  Of course, that won’t be anywhere near as good as homemade, from scratch.

The Honorable Treat:
Apparently in March some folks in Maine made a whoopie pie that weighed over 1,000 pounds, set the world record, and officially made it the “State Treat.”
What an honor.
Another honor afforded to the Whoopie Pie is the battle over who created the original whoopie pie.  The folks up in Maine claim they are the creators, but the Amish in Lancaster County Pennsylvania claim they were first.  Then some folks in Massachusetts decided to claim to be the first… 
Really, over a whoopie pie? 

Just eat it & be happy… 

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2011 in Musings, My Life

 

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