Monday, September 29, 2008

Lonesome Dove

I found myself lost in some kind of reverie, hypnotized by the passing of fields on my right and left. It seem that the further I got from Rowlett, the more that my business and stress unravelled. I remember thinking to myself how great it felt to get out to the country. By the time I got to the campsite, I was a different person.

This weekend, I finally got out to the hunting lease that Angie's cousin and I have access to through deer season. I was hoping to get some dove into the freezer, but that is apparently not in the cards. This weekend it didn't much matter.

I've been very busy at work. My presentation for Vegas looms over all other responsibilities. School is a bear, and most weekends are spent shuffling from one game to another. Things are good, I just needed a break and I knew if I didn't do it this weekend, I wouldn't get another chance.

After securing a pass from Angie (not hard to get, I think she knew I needed a break), I loaded the camper and left. I had a little food, my gun and ammo, fishing poles and a couple of cigars. What more did I need?

I got to Bonham SP at about 2:00pm and set up the camper. By 4:00pm, I was at the lease casting into the pond. After Angie's cousin showed up, we drove around the property to check on the deer feeders. He left, and I hunted. Sunset came quick and I hadn't bagged a bird. I returned to the campsite, had dinner, and lit a cigar. I watched the stars and fireflies light up the sky. It was just what the doctor ordered.

On Sunday, I got up early and watched the sun rise creating an amazing rainbow over the horizon. It is incredible seeing the ROYGBIV on the horizon as the sun came up from the East. I hunted over a cleared wheat field for several hours, shooting (and missing) at one bird. I then fished as the day got hot and caught and released a small large-mouth bass. The one fish made the whole weekend worth it.

It's funny, but I saw virtually no dove while hunting, but a bunch near the property when I travelled back and forth. That's ok, I saw a large doe and some duck while I was on the property.

That alone will make it worth it.

They say that a bad day spent hunting and fishing is still better than a good day doing anything else. I believe them.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Blackened Blue

We whipped out some more halibut. That fish is so awesome, I'm gonna be sad when it's gone. Especially since it is currently going for $22/lb in the stores here.

Angie and I had plans for two couples friends to come over. We all have girls that are friends and play well together, so it was our intent to replicate our weekend in New Orleans by Cajun spicing some fish, making some hurricanes (using the mix we brought home) and just having a good time with friends.

I had three large filets defrosted, so when one couple cancelled at the last minute, that meant we could fry it up as an appetizer. I think that's my favorite way to eat it, fried with some malt vinegar. It is awesome.

The other filets were rubbed in butter and Cajun seasoning while the cast iron skillet got hot to 500 degrees on the grill. With another quarter stick of butter to coat the skillet, I dropped in the filet. About five minutes on each side, and voila - perfected blackened halibut. The filets are so big, each couple split it, and we still had fish left over.

Angie made jalapeno corn bread and our guests brought new potatoes and an awesome salad. A great meal with good friends.

And, when the one bottle of rum wasn't enough, we started mixing the hurricane mix with vodka. It's good that way too.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

'41 Is a Very Good Year

My baby is forty one. I'm not talking about an antique car or a family heirloom. I'm talking about my better half.

Angie turned 41 years old this Sunday and she is every bit a fine wine, getting better with age.

It is amazing to see someone just blossom more and more as time goes by. When we met more than nine years ago, we were both very different people. I don't think she'd mind me saying that we were both very broken people that came together in their brokenness.

The good Lord has seen to it, in His infinite wisdom, to allow us to grow, heal wounds, and to become tremendous complements to each other. She is relational and intuitive about other people. I am not. I am more disciplined and organized. She isn't. I may be more intellectual, but she is more emotional. In every way we are different - save one.

Our love. Our love for each other, for our children, and for our God. We may be very different people, but in these three areas, we are the same.

Especially, because she keeps getting better with age.

I just keep getting bigger.

Happy Birthday, baby...


Monday, September 22, 2008

Hunter Conservation

The title would seem like an oxymoron and the anti-hunting community would have you believe that the two words in the title of the post ARE antithetical, but everything I know about conservation says that it just isn't true.

The fact of the matter is that unless there is money to be made, a species just isn't going to survive and that the same anti-gun, anti-hunter community that presses for more restrictive legislation typically are not willing to put their wallets where there gaping, ignorant pie-holes lead. I don't see them clamoring about habitat encroachment, but that is exactly what is causing wildlife reductions globally.

However, leave it to the hunters to not only care about habitat, but to also put their dollars on the table to ensure that it happens. According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's website, hunters annually pay $372 MILLION towards conservation, and that in less than 60 years, have totalled over $5.5 BILLION towards conservation efforts.

So that's dollars, but what about animals. In the early 1990's, there were an estimated 100,000 wild turkeys in, through conservation efforts, there are an estimated 4.5 MILLION. Yes, I've killed one, but my dollars have ensured that countless others have lived.

The same holds for deer. In 1900, there were less than 500,000 deer in the nation. Now, because deer are the most popular game animal, there are 18 MILLION. If it weren't for hunters, the deer would probably be extinct.

I'm not trying to convince the anti-hunters out there that hunting should be permitted...(well, actually, I am, but this is my blog, so tough). That being said, the last time I checked, this is the United States and we are free to pursue those activities that we wish. In fact, I feel it is my duty to ensure that hunting and gun ownership remains legal and accessible. I respect the anti's freedom to do the opposite, but make sure that you are informed. The species you believe you are helping may actually suffer from your efforts.

Numerous studies prove that if you want to ensure a species survival, allow it to be hunted. Once you do that, conservation efforts go into effect to make sure the species remains economically viable.

Hunters win, conservationists win, and most of all...

...the species wins.


NB - I took the online portion of the Texas Hunter Education class today. It was very interesting, somewhat informative, and most important - required to hunt in Utah. Although I am old enough to be exempt in Texas, I am not old enough for Utah - and since we are planning a duck hunt there within the next couple of months, I need to complete hunter education. Next step, the field class.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Tale of Two Meals

Forget “What would you do for a Klondike bar?” My question to you is, “How much would you pay for a piece of beef?”

Would you pay $100? Would you pay $250?? Would you pay $365???

If you go to Alexander’s Steakhouse in Cupertino, CA you might. Yes, you can get a 10 oz. filet of good ‘ole American Angus for $46, but you can also get “true Japanese Imported Kobe beef of the A5 grade” for an amazing $365 a plate.

I am in California this week working out our headquarters and on Monday night, we (my client, my bosses’ boss, and a couple of other guests) went to the unbelievable Alexander’s for dinner. I got the Angus filet (the desire to keep my job was stronger than my desire to experience $365 beef) and had an excellent meal. If you’ve ever had that steak, please let me live vicariously through you and tell me how it was.

The next evening, the client and I went to get Sushi. As I walked into “Sushi Express”, I felt as though I had just walked into the fast food of raw fish. However, the client had eaten there before and I have come to trust her recommendations for all things sushi. We had a couple of rolls, hot sake, and a Sapporo. For the same price as my filet, we had another excellent meal.

It just goes to show – it doesn’t matter where you are as much as whom you are with.

I can’t wait to go home and have dinner with my family. That’s the best of both “the where” and “the who”.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Separated at Birth...

...Michael Phelps and Baby New Year.

I watched Michael host the season premier of Saturday Night Live. I am sorry to admit, I watch the show regularly. I fell in love with SNL when it was great (with Chevy, Ackroyd and Belushi) and have watched it since. It might be a New York thing, or maybe I'm just waiting for the skit that makes you laugh so hard you still talk about it years later.

I remember my nephew and I watching Chris Farley swan dive onto the coffee table while he was extolling the benefits of "living in a van, down by the river." We laughed so hard, I really thought I hernia'ed something.

I remember laughing as hard for the Sofa King of New York skit..."it's not huge, it's Sofa King huge!!!!" My cousins and I were just talking about that one recently.

And, who can forget "Pete Schwetty's Christmas Balls"? "Ohhh, I love your salty, Schwetty balls in my mouth."

Classic humor. Yes, I understand that you can watch a whole 90 minutes and not laugh once. Or, you can see an skit and wonder how bad the crap that didn't make the show must have been. But once in a while, you get gold.

And that's enough to keep me coming back.


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ultraviolence Friday

Angie and I don't usually watch stupid, shoot-em-up movies, but this weekend we watched two. Our Blockbuster queue has been backing up a little bit and we had a couple of movies sitting on top of the TV, so we decided to grab one and throw it in.

I let her choose. I usually let her choose just so I don't have to take responsibility for a movie if it sucks. In fact, it usually works out that when she picks a movie, it blows, and I let her know that her choice did, as well. When I pick a movie, we usually like it. There are two things about that arrangement of which you need to be aware. 1) It's a losing proposition for her, since I only let her choose when both movies to pick from are going to blow. 2) Conversely, I will choose the movie when I have a guaranteed winner. The only exception to this was "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow", very easily the worst movie I have ever seen half of.

So, she plugged her choice into the DVD player and I asked what she put it...she said, "it's a surprise" and away we went.

She selected, "Shoot 'Em Up" with Clive Owen. Basically, a former champion marksmen, turned military dude intervenes when a bunch of thugs try to kill a pregnant woman. She ends up giving birth, then getting shot between the eyes. Owen, the unwitting hero takes the baby and protects it while more thugs try to kill it (and him). The movie has a ton of shooting and is way over the top. It has a very awesome skydiving shootout, and several other really cool scenes, but we couldn't get past how ridiculous the movie was. That, and the fact that we were really enjoying it. It certainly wasn't a movie that I expected Angie to like, but when the final credits rolled, we looked at each other and said - "at least it was really entertaining." What more can you ask from any film.

By now it was getting late, but the adrenalin surge from the movie had woken us up, so we weren't tired. I decided to throw the other movie in. Kevin Bacon and Kelly Preston in "Death Sentence". The description mentioned something about Dirty Harry, so we didn't have very high expectations.

Again, the movie was really violent, very stupid, and not nearly as entertaining as the previous flick. Although, for two 40-year-olds, staying awake till 1am means that the movie was at least OK. We watched the whole, unbelievable story as Kevin Bacon preceded to hunt down and kill the bad ass gang of thugs that killed his son. In doing so, he loses his own life and that of his wife.

The moral? I have no clue, other than if you too want to be a bad ass, shave your head.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

We Shall Never Forget II

I just read my post of September 11, 2007 and I feel the same way today as I did on that day.

I didn’t notice any big news coverage or replays. I did see some small memorial stuff going on, but no big events. I read on that baseball is having special events at each of the games that are being played today, and that’s great, but aren’t we missing something?

We cannot forget the fact that there are people in this world that hate this country. I’m not saying we need to make enemies of everyone that is not American, and clearly, the current administration has not been what we had hoped, but to forget that every day there may be another attack on us is to become vulnerable.

Additionally, I really miss the outward patriotism that we had after the attacks. Hell, it was even cool to live in Texas and to be a New Yorker for a while. I wasn’t sneered at for a couple of months after Sept 11. (Only kidding about that – I am never sneered at, but we all remember that for a short time after September 11, we were ALL New Yorkers, regardless of where we actually resided or came from).

I think that we should make September 11 a national holiday. For at least one day every year, we would all remember that day and we would celebrate it – not for the fact that we were attacked or that terror had finally reached our shores, but because it brought the citizens of this country closer and because for just a short time, we were all the Americans to each other that we should be every day.

We shall must never forget!


Monday, September 08, 2008

Blog Bytes

Not a great deal of major things to blog about lately...therefore I though some quick updates would be in order.

1) School for all is rolling. My classes are already humming along. Angie is working on a paper and currently enjoying the experience. Justin continues to improve and is now up to three classes a semester. Dylan, Marissa and Cassie are enjoying their schools, as well.

2) Activities are getting busy, too. Dylan is in two baseball leagues. One little league and one for school. He's got doubleheaders every Saturday and practice almost every day. His elbow is sore from throwing too much. Marissa practices volleyball before school everyday. Her first game in Thursday and I don't know how I am going to ever see her play. I have school on Thursdays. Cassie is cheering and she had her first game on Saturday. The team lost, but those little first graders looked so cute.

3) Girl Scouts started on Sunday. Since I lead the troop, that one effects me too. We are in year two of Daisies. The girls are so cute and so fun that it almost doesn't seem like work. This year's plan - finish our Daisy petals and get ready for brownies. Oh, by the way, we will be selling cookies this year, so let me know what you want.

4) Angie and I had a date night this weekend. We tried a really great restaurant in downtown Rockwall called Zanata's. I pass it whenever I go to the public dove hunting land in Royse City and have wanted to try it since I started public hunting last year. Everytime I pass it, the windows are open to the sidewalk and the place is jamming. We went, had some cocktails and some pizza. It was great a great time.

5) I haven't been back to the lease, as of yet. I'm trying to work that out, but our weekends are so packed, I don't know how I'm gonna get it to happen. I bought a new fishing pole and a slew of new lures, so I can't wait to get out there. Also, I really want to spend a day or two hunting for dove. There's a wheat field on the land, so I'm hoping the dove are flying. I'm still doveless so far. Dylan has one that he got with his dad on Saturday.

6) I've been home for what feels like forever. I haven't travelled for weeks and it has been great. That ends next week, as I am in California for four days.


Monday, September 01, 2008

Connection to the Great Outdoors

I've just come in from relaxing on the patio with a cigar in one hand and an ice cold beer in the other. As I sat out there enjoying the cool breeze, compliments of tropical storm Gustav, I contemplated the goings on of this weekend.

On Sunday, Angie and I packed up the camper, the kids, and the dogs (all in two vehicles) and drove 90 minutes north to Bonham State Park. The holiday happened to coincide with the beginning of Dove season here in Texas and up north is where we usually end up.

However, this year is somewhat different for me. I've gone in halves with Angie's cousin on a hunting lease near Honey Grove, about 25 minutes east of Bonham. The beautiful 206 acres we have access to for the next four months provides us opportunities to hunt dove, duck, deer and hogs. Additionally, we have access to a nice sized pond for fishing. Although there are no electricity or water hookups on the land for the camper, the price was right, and it is close enough to get to for a day of hunting.

So, on Sunday, we swam, ate, made 'smores and generally hung out as a family enjoying the state park. Bonham SP is small and has a great swimming area, so we always enjoy going up there.

On Monday, Dylan and I left the girls nice and early, met Angie's cousin and his son and went to the lease. We drove around the property so I could get a look around. It is really pretty with some wooded areas, some open fields and pastures, and the large pond. We saw a deer while driving, so we think our chances for deer when the season starts are good. We also saw plenty of hog sign, so we should do ok there, too.

It was very hot, and we didn't see any dove flying, so we fished. I immediately caught a large perch, so I knew it was on. We got bored of watching Angie's cousin catch all the fish, so we decided to load our guns and go walk about.

We walked for a while, overheated (and got bored), and decided to fish some more. I caught two small black bass (my first two ever) and was real pleased.

In fact, we never really got a good shot at any dove, but we had a great time on the property. I probably won't get a chance to get up there this coming weekend, but we are already planning to bring the camper up for several days of primitive camping and hunting on the property.

Hopefully, I'll have dove in the freezer soon. If not, I know we'll have a great time on the lease. We have the deer feeders all ready to go.