Monday, September 06, 2010

Dovers Lane

I didn't notice the sign the first time I drove to the hunting area. This time, however, I didn't miss it. As I approached Midlothian, I saw the exit sign, "Dove Ln".

I was invited to an afternoon hunt today and my host informed me that we'd be meeting at around 5:00pm at the hunt site. I marked the site on my nav the last time I was there, so I knew exactly where to go. As I saw that sign, I thought to myself that we'd have a good hunt.

What I didn't know is how much fun we'd have. Most of my experiences around dove hunting is that to have a long walk through pasture, while carrying your equipment, all while suffering in the Texas heat. And, once you get to your spot, you may not see a lot of birds or get a lot of shooting opportunities. Although I hunted hard last year, I only harvested a single bird. Since it wasn't enough for even a snack, I saved it for my sister so she could try a grilled breast.

However, since I hunted this site last week, I knew there would be lots of birds. And, although there were less birds than last week's morning hunt, we had better shooting opportunities tonight. My buddy put out two mojo decoys and they really worked, attracting a good number of birds closed to us. Additionally, we decided to hunt together, so we talked, laughed and shared a couple of beers while we scanned the sky for our quarry. I ended up harvesting three birds and my buddy six. We both shot almost two boxes was great fun.

In addition to all of this, there were another ten people hunting with us, so there was a lot of shooting going on. In all, I brought home sixteen breasts, all of which are now vacuum packed and in the freezer.

After the hunt and cleaning the birds, we told stories of our hunt - yes, there were probably some exaggerations - shared another beer and a cigar and planned another day in the field. Given another opportunity, I will always choose to hunt with friends, both old and new, rather than by myself.

It is the way it was meant to be...


Monday, April 26, 2010


As the recession reduced incomes, staying home for inexpensive vacations have become more popular. This phenomenon spawned a new term – staycation. I used this as the basis for a new phrase used to title this post – staying home to celebrate a wedding anniversary.

Since Angie and I are planning for a huge European 10th anniversary trip next year, we thought we’d do something on a much smaller scale this year. I told her to make arrangements for the kids and I would take care of everything else. I wanted to go to Las Vegas and take her to see the Elvis Cirque du Soleil show, but we just didn’t have enough time so I looked for something closer to home.

She’s previously asked me if we could stay at a Hilton hotel that is part of the Rockwall Harbor. The hotel is nice and is surrounded by a harbor on Lake Ray Hubbard with restaurants, shops and a movie theatre. I thought this would be perfect for our stanniversary. I booked the bed and breakfast package with a room overlooking the lake. My plan was to go to a restaurant that we went to as one of our first dates, then go to the hotel for some drinks. The next day we’d have a nice leisurely breakfast, go to a movie and then return home so I could go to work.

Last minute Sunday afternoon she asked me if we could go to dinner a little later. I said we could, so she made plans surprise plans for us earlier in the afternoon.

When we left, she told me where to drive. I didn’t know what she had planned and she didn’t know what I had planned, but her directions to me were to head towards Rockwall. Suffice to say, I was surprised when we ended up in the parking lot to the very hotel that I booked for the evening.

After a drink at the bar, she took me to the harbor and informed me that she had booked a sailing trip on the Seawolf – a catamaran that sails the lake. We boarded with several other people and proceeded to leave the harbor. We cruised for 90 minutes while enjoying the wonderful evening, wine, and each other. When we returned, I informed Angie that I had booked the hotel where we were and gave her a choice to head to the restaurant that I had planned (about an hour’s drive) or we could stay at the harbor and eat at one of the restaurants there (that we could walk to). She said she would prefer to stay where we were, so we went to the Blue Canyon and had an awesome meal.
After dinner we walked around the harbor and then retired to our room.

The next morning we had a nice breakfast and we went to the movie. I hate going to the movies and she loves to go, so it didn’t matter what we were going to see – she was happy. I had purchased tickets to the chick flick “The Backup Plan”.

We had a great time and a great stanniversary. Next year, though, there is no staying home. We are doing Italy, France and England.

Happy Anniversary, sweetheart.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fresh Fish

Yesterday, I posted about my deep sea fishing excursion off of the coast of Florida.

Today, I am going to share a much different fishing story.

The weather was so pleasant here in North Texas that when Cassie asked me if we could do something outside, I jumped at the offer. We had been talking about fishing because of my trip, so I just threw it out there, "Would you like to go to the park and fish? You could bring your scooter, too."

When she said yes, I was pleasantly surprised.

I packed up the poles and tackle box. Mom put together a cooler of snacks and Cassie got her scooter. We stopped at a gas station on the way, picked up some drinks and some minnows.

We got to the fishing area and noticed that the wind was up, and it was blowing very hard right into our faces. This was not going to be good weather for casting, so I added a couple of weights to each of the rigs. I baited one pole, then another. Cassie wasn't too interested in fishing to start, so she went off exploring and playing with the dog.

She quickly tired and came to me for a pole. I gave her one and kept the other and we waited. She then stated she thought she had a fish. Her line was not taught, so I told her probably not. She started reeling in and mom confirmed that she saw her pole bend. I was skeptical and took her pole. I reeled in a little and said, "nope, no fish sweetie." I gave her the pole back.

She continued to reel in stating she had a fish. I doubted it until we saw silver at the top of the water. She reel him in, a pretty good sized fish. I didn't know what kind of fish it was, noting that the mouth was pretty small. I asked someone else at the fishing area and he said he thought it was a small mouth bass. We took the obligatory pictures, and thinking he was too small to keep (small mouth are 14 inch minimums), we released him - he swam away and we hugged and high-fived.

I told Cassie how proud I was of her. In fact, the entire afternoon she was a very conscientious fisher. She watched her line and remained patient. She was rewarded, too - as she was the only person to catch fish in that area that we saw. Funny, but the guy that I asked what kind of fish we had was pretty pissed off at her, stating that he fished all day and didn't get a bite and we come and get a fish pretty quick.

I printed a big copy of our picture and I will be placing it on my trophy wall with all of my other trophies. However, as I started looking at it, I started doubting that it was a small mouth. There are just no vertical stripes. In fact, there aren't any real stripes at all. I pulled out the Texas Parks and Wildlife Hunting and Fishing Annual and now believe that she caught a white bass. The minimum on these fish is only 10 inches. I'm thinking she might have had a keeper.

All I know is that the memory of her first fish will stay with me. She may forget about it, but I was as happy as if I had caught the fish. I'm hoping that she wants to go more often...perhaps more outdoor type activities will be in our future.

Now that would be a keeper.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Salty Fish

I had the good fortune to have my travel to Amsterdam cancelled this week due to the volcanic ash cloud of 2010.

In fact, the ash cloud and the chaos to air travel that is caused was a blessing in disguise for a couple of reasons. The first that it kept me in the US. The second that it kept several others from coming to the US. These cancellations opened a spot at a vendor event to which I was invited as a last minute replacement.

The vendor event was in West Palm Beach and it was excellent. Great speakers, a good opportunity to get to know a prospective vendor better, a similar opportunity to get to know a colleague, and finally a couple of days of excellent food, great drink and some deep sea fishing.

Out fishing excursion closed the event. We boarded the bus from the hotel to the marina at 8:00am. At the marina, we learned that our boat was a no show, so we boarded another and were taxied to another marina to board a replacement. This may have been another blessing in disguise as our captain and our mate were top notch and put us on the fish.

We motored to our fishing area and I the mate placed our lines. We had six or even our with a couple of teasers and waited. We were going for sailfish, swordfish, dolphin fish, tuna and wahoo. The first strike ended with no fish on a hook, but that got all of our blood flowing. We also had to pick the order and as the prospective client, I was given the honor. A little while later, we had another strike. The mate coaxed the fish to bite again and it was fish on...he handed the pole to me and it was my turn to work.

The fish was taking line out fast, and I didn't realize I was supposed to be reeling in, so I let him take even more. I was yelled at for not reeling, so I started. Instantly, I was tired. It felt like a monster. I reeled for what felt like forever. As the line started getting closer to the boat I saw a glimmer of silver. I was instructed to step back with the pole and the mate brought the fish on board. It was a Bonita - a trash fish that is used for bait. I didn't care. First, I was exhausted. Second, I was ecstatic. Third, the fish was beautiful - blue and silver with these amazing black patterns on its back. He had the fish in the hold and I took a look at him. I commented how pretty its markings were, and the mate informed me that Bonita is Spanish for "pretty". Made sense to me. We made note of the time, 10:15am as I sat down with a celebratory beer.

As we progressed through the rest of the order, we caught more Bonita. The last of the five on the boat brought in a pretty, if not small, black fin tuna. We finally had a game fish on board.

I was up again and brought in my own small black fin. A very pretty fish and a little easier to reel in.

We ended up going through the order again and caught another black fin, more Bonita, and a blue runner (another trash fish used for bait).

I actually got to go again and brought in another Bonita. Not as big as the first and not as difficult to bring in. I was thankful, as my arms had had enough.

All in all, we caught twelve fish. Enough to win most fish on the boat. The next closest to us had only 5. One out of the six boats that went out was skunked. We also learned that my first was the first for all of the boats, so I ended up winning two wonderful bottles of wine.

As we shared fish stories over an amazing lunch of fresh seafood, we learned that the largest fish of the day went to someone who brought in a 13.5 foot tiger shark. The pictures of that were awesome.

There is a saying that goes, "a bad day on the water beats a good day on land". Thankfully, we didn't have to test its validity. We had a great day on the water.


Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Point

The last comment I remember was a question about why I would “give up” Facebook for Lent.

The implication was that it had no point.

The good thing is that it doesn’t have to have a point to that person, or anyone else for that matter. It made sense to me and frankly it was a good experience. Even now that Easter is here and that my Lord is risen and I am “allowed” back on Facebook, I won’t spend nearly as much time on it, or engaged in as much of those activities that aren’t a good use of time. Yes, we all need to relax and have some down time, but there is something wrong with the state of things when others are depending on me and I am wasting the day away on Facebook, or playing online poker, or shooting zombies, or watching TV.

So much of my life recently seemed to have a lack of discipline. The only area that I seemed to have under real control was work. That never really seems to suffer, maybe because I know so much relies on my paycheck. But, when my health is suffering from my lack of discipline, or my marriage is suffering because of my lack of discipline, then it is time to make a change.

Giving up Facebook and reclaiming that time for more productive pursuits seemed to be a good start.

First, I committed myself to quiet time with God every day. Reading scripture, prayer and journaling are typically the first thing to suffer in a busy day and I hadn’t done it regularly in a long time. That has been corrected. I am current in my bible reading and actually look forward to this time alone with God. In fact, for the first time, I miss it when I don’t have this time. And, the funny thing is that Angie can tell when I miss a day or two. She sees the change in me, and so have I. That alone is enough reason to ensure that part of my day, every day, is spent in scripture and prayer.

Second, Angie and I started the Abs Power Diet. Ultimately, the diet shows us to eat healthy foods and to build muscle. We are just starting week two and are feeling great. I’ve lost five pounds and have done abdominal workouts for the first time in years. Not pretty, or fun, but finally putting some discipline around what we are eating. The amazing discovery here is that what I eat actually tastes better than the crap I had been eating. Angie made me these chicken feta crumble things on wheat rolls and salsa for dipping yesterday. They were delicious and healthy.

Lastly, Angie and I have started to reengage around service towards others. We are mentoring a young pre-wed couple at church. We know that only through discipline in our lives will we have the time to do charity or other service for others. We both hope that this mentoring actually helps strengthen our marriage while we help a younger couple. We both used to be really involved in service, but because our lives got so hectic and disorganized we pulled back a bit. We have both felt that we should be doing on more, and only through creating more time will we be able to do so.

Ultimately, the last forty days have been transformational for me. And, that was the point. I heard a definition of disciple that I really liked (paraphrasing) “Discipline is doing today what we are able that will help us to the things we cannot do tomorrow. So, like an athlete who cannot bench two hundred pounds today, I will push as much weight as possible until I get there. That’s discipline and that’s why I took a break from Facebook.

I would venture a guess that the people who can relate do so because their lives are hectic, too. Perhaps they also feel the same pull that I feel – that we were meant for more in our lives than just living in our own small universes of ‘self’ or ‘mine’. And those that can’t relate – either they are already incredible disciplined, or perhaps no one is dependent on them.

Either way, I missed you and it’s good to see you. I hope you’ve been well and Happy Easter.


N.B. – Angie gave up fast food for the duration, even to the point where she would watch Cassie and I eat lunch while she sat there foodless. Oh, and Cassie’s lunch didn’t include sodas, because those were her Lenten sacrifice. I am really proud of both of them and I think lunch at Whataburger, with a bunch of cokes, is on me on Monday (we get one cheat meal per week).

Friday, January 08, 2010

Cookie Time

It's that time of year again. Help support Brownie Troop #8459 and fill your tummy with awesome girl scout cookies. They only come around once a year, so stock up. They freeze well, too.

The new cookie this year is named, "Thank U Berry Munch". The name stinks, but the cookie is good. Think shortbread with a little hint of berry.

I'll ship as needed, or better yet - donate your order to the troops overseas!