Full Mount Musk Ox


Years ago my husband came home from another man’s cave and couldn’t stop talking about a full mount musk ox that was on display.  In some sort of primal bonding ritual, he took our sons there to see it too.  They all became inflicted with musk ox must-have disease.  Sure we had some nice whitetail racks and a turkey among John’s coveted cave prizes, but nothing close to matching the absurdness of a full mount musk ox.  Until now.

Nunavut (Pronounced None-of-it) , Canada Enterprise Star Date March 2013

The frozen tundra reads 31 degrees below zero (at least).

John rents caribou skins for outerwear and has Cabela’s rush him a set of Herman Munster over boots.   Throw in an 11 hour, bone jarring sled ride behind a Yamaha snowmobile, primitive living conditions, blinding snow, and a seal hole.  Good times.

We’ve got a spot in our trophy room for Wilbur, the full mount Musk Ox, who at harvest was 10 years old and only had six teeth left.  His hooves were worn down to the pads and the guides told John that he would have starved this coming winter; a good bull to take.

John said the most surprising thing to him

was that there were no stars in the night sky.  

Nunavut is above the arctic circle and is populated with seals, musk ox, arctic fox, polar bears, snowshoe hare, wolverine and wolves.   Most of the pictures where he is walking on flat surfaces is actually him walking across the frozen ocean.  It breaks open for about one month during the year.

The sled he honkered down in for 11 hours had no suspension and was crudely constructed out of wood.  Biting wind speeds and negative temperatures tickling 50 degrees below zero tested his tough.  The question isn’t, “Are you going to get a musk ox on this trip?” but rather, “Can you survive the pounding ride out to the herd?”  He said that it was brutal.  He ate musk ox meat and probably did all sorts of other manly things that men do on these adventures and I already know too much!

Inquiring minds want to know:  Nunavut is both the least populous and the largest in area of the provinces and territories of Canada. One of the most remote, sparsely settled regions in the world, it has a population of 31,906,[3] mostly Inuit, spread over an area the size of Western Europe. Nunavut is also home to the northernmost permanently inhabited place in the world, Alert. A weather station further down Ellesmere Island, Eureka, has the lowest average annual temperature of any weather station in Canada.



Mission Improbable

 Can She Build it?  Yes She Can.

The doorbell rang and the delivery fairy dropped off a heavy, flat box that was supposed to be a nightstand.  No where on the order form did it say “assembly required.”   Allrighty then.

In an unprecedented move, I decided to sit down and read the whole “destruction” manual before beginning any hands on assembly.








All these flat pieces of wood are supposed to end up as a three dimensional, fully functional nightstand with two drawers and a shelf.  Final determination:  This project may require alcohol.

The booklet indicated that assembly should take 30 minutes, tops.   Then I saw it.

The parts bag.

Just kill me now.

I had a meat tenderizer for a hammer and no power tools.  After two hours of dinking around,  I discovered that I was better at banging than screwing.  After a lot of ups and downs, it eventually came together.   All I needed was a cigarette.

(Wait, I don’t smoke.) 

Somewhere in China there is a guy who is laughing at me.




Now…if I could just get this stupid lamp put together!


Roosevelt’s Cowboys

Cowboy silhouette

“Sinewy, hardy, self-reliant, the cowboy’s life forces men to be both daring and adventurous, and the passing over their heads of a few years leaves printed on their faces certain lines which tell of dangers quietly fronted and hardships uncomplainingly endured.

They are far from being as lawless as they are described; though they sometimes cut strange antics when, after many months of lonely life, they come into a frontier town in which drinking and gambling are the only recognized forms of amusement, and where pleasure and vice are considered synonymous terms. On the round-ups, or when a number get together, there is much boisterous, often foul-mouthed mirth; but they are rather silent, self-contained men when with strangers, and are frank and hospitable to a degree.

The Texans are perhaps the best at the actual cowboy work. They are absolutely fearless riders and understand well the habits of the half wild cattle, being unequaled in those most trying times when, for instance, the cattle are stampeded by a thunderstorm at night, while in the use of the rope they are only excelled by the Mexicans. On the other hand, they are prone to drink, and when drunk, to shoot.”

–1885, Theodore Roosevelt’s “Hunting Trips of a Ranchman”





















 I could listen to this song 100 times straight and never tire of the lyrics. 



Mini Magic Apple Pie


Once every ten years a recipe that is creative and deliciously disturbing comes my way.  I can’t stop thinking about all the folks I could wow with it.  This decade’s gem comes from my good friend, Stacey Stewart.   Today had been an ordinary Saturday; I had just finished my afternoon nap and flipped the television on to catch up on my Judge Judy reruns.  The bell rang and I stepped on a Lego on my way to answer the door.  No pain, no gain.

There stood Stacey with a piping hot plate of mini magic apple pies

and a side scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

Was I dreaming?

Mini Magic Apple Pies   -   Preheat oven to 400 degrees

To a mixing bowl add and stir:

Peel and dice eight cups of apples into 1/2″ cubes

12 tablespoons flour

1-1/2 cups of sugar

4 heaping teaspoons of cinnamon

optional:  1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

 You will also need:

4 tablespoons of chilled butter cut into 24 equal pieces

2 boxes of Pillsbury pie crusts (chilled not frozen)


Unroll chilled, NOT FROZEN, pie crust, and cut out 24 circles using a wide mouth mason jar (or large biscuit cutter or a large drinking glass)   Line each cup of your muffin tin with a mini pie crust.  Gently fill the crusts with the apple mixture until slightly mounded.  Top with a dab of butter.

Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.





Now You Know

1976 Watching the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson together, every night.

My dad died somewhat unexpectedly in the last hour of the last official day of winter, on March 20, 2007.   The significance of his timing is not lost on me.   When I think about it, he lived exactly as he had always lived, with purpose.  He held on to that final season of his life and let go just moments before the next one.

For almost two years, he had been doctored.  He had endured radiation and chemo with a smile for us and a wink when he saw that we saw how pleased with himself he was for finding a cute, fuzzy toque for his head.   Yet, that winter had come, those late evening hours passed, and spring arrived without him.

My mother and I followed the ambulance to the hospital where he was pronounced.  Devastated, I leaned down to his ear and softly whispered, “Now you know.”    Three little words were all I could muster, but when I think about it now, they are profound.

Since that time I’ve come to know that those we have loved and lost are never really far away.   Through pain, I’ve learned that time is a human measure and touch is a human need. I’ve learned to celebrate his life, not mourn his death.  This is where faith comes in.   I also realized that the way I conduct my affairs and how I treat others directly reflects his legacy.  In everything I do, he remains my compass–my true north.

Now here’s the interesting part:

1968 My dad’s graduation from Roosevelt University in Chicago. My mom used to drive under the post office to pick him up at night from college. We were tucked in blankets in the back seat.

Not only is my dad sitting on my shoulder these days, but he enjoys letting me know.    My mom, my brother, and I fish in Michigan’s upper peninsula every year for vacation.   The first thing I do when I get there is to fire up my dad’s Merc 60 and take his bass boat up Corbett’s Creek to our special fishing spot to see if they are still hittin’.   Without fail, the motor quits.  Every time, every year, six years straight.  I sit there on the silent creek and smile.  Faith.

He made sure we knew he was present at his eulogy, too.  There had been a story told about my parent’s first date where he nervously spilled a whole glass of ice water on my mom at dinner.  Then she told a story about more water spills; it was their kind of  “luck” when they went out.  At the funeral luncheon, a waiter shouldering a large tray brought eight glasses of water to our table.  Just like a bad movie, he tripped–and toppled the eight full glasses of ice water down my daughter’s back.  Everyone jumped up, jumped back, and got bug eyed thinking to themselves, “It can’t be!”

1982 Mom and Dad at a rest area on the way to Michigan to visit their first grandchild. Mom was a grandma at 38.

A few weeks later my mother’s two sisters were up at our farm and we took a walk to a little pond on our property while mom rested back at the truck.  We were standing on the shore talking and enjoying the woods and water when one of my aunts thought to ask if there were any fish in the pond.   I was right in the middle of telling her how my son, Adam, and Gramps had jury rigged a fish finder to a little row boat a few summers back and rowed all over the four acre lake looking for fish.  At the exact moment I said that my dad had said, “There are absolutely no fish in this pond,” A FISH JUMPED COMPLETELY OUT OF THE WATER.   Our jaws hung open, our brains couldn’t process what our eyes had seen, and my aunt was the first one to dare utter, “That was your dad!”     Faith.

These random water events are not his only form of amusement.  There are others that I’m reserving for another time.  I used to think I was crazy or desperate or wishful.  Now I know.




“There’s one form of immortality that I like to think about.

It is that all those that from the very first have given anything to the world are living in the world today.”

Dad’s perfect cast, and my perfect timing, on Corbetts Creek

Grandpa’s girls, Sarah and Jennifer



Gramps’ Pride and Joy, his grandson, “Jim, the Marine”




I decided to trim my dog’s nails today.  My dog decided her nails didn’t need it, didn’t want it, and wouldn’t have it.  Not today, not ever.    I took this as one of those rare opportunities to show her who is the sheriff in this town.   Beauty vs. the Beast–you decide.

It began the moment she caught a glimpse of the orange handled clippers.  Suddenly her ears quit working and she slunk down low to the ground, making herself as small and helpless as possible.  Remi turned her chocolate head away from me thinking that if she couldn’t see me, then I couldn’t find her.  Being in full command of the situation, I held my ground and intensified my tone, “Remi, come.”  “R E M I…C O M E !!!”  “Come here you devil dog.”  “NOW.”  “I see you.  Remi COME.”    “You want a treat?”

Once she was in position, paws up and sandwiched between my legs, I cinched her with my kneecaps and got busy on the first of sixteen nails.  Half of her nails are white and you can easily see the pink blood line.  The others are solid black so it is a little like Russian roulette.   In four years I’ve only made her bleed once.  Pretty good odds.

Remi, by AKC definition, is:  “A versatile hunter and all-purpose gun dog, the German Shorthaired Pointer possesses keen scenting power and high intelligence except when clipping time rolls around. The breed is proficient with many different types of game and sport , including trailing, retrieving, and pointing pheasant, quail, grouse, waterfowl, raccoons, and possum.”

The tricky part about nail trimming is getting a grip on all the parts when you need them.  I have to spin her around to do the other set of paws while she is still restrained on her back.  I just hog tie her with my hands and and swing her fore to aft like a puppet on a string.  Years of practice, my friends.  Don’t try this at home.

About halfway through the job and all the way through her patience, she shot me the skunk eye and started up with her whimpering bull crap.   When that failed to impress, she went to plan B:  yanking her paw out of my hand, feigning a mortal wound, and trying to break free.  I’ve been to this rodeo before, so send in the clowns.  Eventually we got done wearing each other out and the job is done.  Each is glad to be rid of the other.

I’m the sheriff all right, just call me Barney Fife.



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