Deer Me

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Paddling in the August sun made my bare shoulders smell like burnt potato chips. Purposefully, I put my wrist up to my tongue to taste pure salt. Time to ditch the canoe and fulfill a promise I made to myself earlier in the day to go swimming with my dog. I haven’t been in a bathing suit in 10 years, convinced that no one wants to look at old lady parts –yet I was yearning for the childhood thrill of making three backwards somersaults in a row underwater and floating on my back, looking up at the sky.

My objective all along was to be brave, not be seen, and be quick.   My swimming hole would have to be secluded. After passing up two possible sites, I settled on one across from a lively beaver dam. I love beavers and hoped to get some brownie points by aggravating one bad enough to slap his tail at me. I shivered for a minute in waist deep water, steeling myself for the plunge. Hmmm….much colder than it looked. I kept saying, “Just do it….do it….GO!” Elvis was singing “It’s Now or Never” as I pushed off hard, leaving the earth and years behind, sinking up to my neck in orange tannin-colored water, common in Michigan’s upper peninsula.

Now my legs were working like eggbeaters in the water, treading it, as I called Remi out to me. She had been on the shore doing a pretty good impression of Scooby Doo’s “Rutt-Roh” look.  I blew bubbles at her, clapped and called her out to me. After a sufficient amount of begging, she figured, ah, what the heck, and took the plunge–steering towards me with her built-in tail rudder and pumping her back legs until we were nose to nose, hearts smiling.

All of a sudden, to my left, I heard a huge kersplash followed by a smaller kersplash. Surreal. There we were, out in the deep water, the two of us dog paddling with a doe and a fawn. The doe was in high gear, cutting 30 yards straight to the mainland from this island cove and her spotted baby was bawling after her. Remi and I had the “deer in the headlights” look as we shared this spectacle. Safe on the other side, they shook off and quickly disappeared into the woods, thinking nothing of it. All that was left on our side were the two sets of meandering hoof prints on the sandy beach and a miracle I will be thinking about for decades.

I’ll Carry You Home

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I’m heartbroken listening to James Blunt’s “I”ll carry you home.”

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Realizing it is a song written for a man killed in action (click video) doesn’t provide a balm.  I lost my father to lymphoma cancer in 2007.  He was my mentor, my hero, my first love.  Flashback to 1960′s and 1970′s and he was the one that played catch with the baseball mitts; each throw a mental intimidation with cause and effect.   If I sent a stinger, he retaliated. Fair and square.  An amazing teacher.  His fastballs, high pop ups and grounders groomed my future.  He took his daughter fishing.  He taught me to change the oil in my car and he helped me blow out the candles on my first birthday cake while my mother was in the hospital having my brother!  Thank you, dad–you gave me strength.

In the first days following his death I was curled up in a fetal position, crying hysterically.  It was up to me to write his obituary and his memorial.  I’m writing this because he always INSISTED that my mother was the strongest of the pair.  I thank God forever for my mother.   She is the glue that holds me together. It was devastating to lose my father, but he prepared me for the future–which I hope is a long way away.  My mother is my EVERYTHING.

She is strength and survival.  She is giving.  She is loved by more people than she realizes. She is the matriarch. Mom, I love you.

We get one shot at life; as I age, I see this. I’m blue tonight.  Loss is a sneaky opportunist; rearing up, unannounced, and causing pain that wrenches and twists.   I texted my daughter, Jennifer, and she called at almost midnight to check in on me…a chip off the old block.  Yes, I’m blue, but I count my blessings.  The circle of life continues.

 

 

 

Mayday! Mayday!!!!

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Lou Ann with the first biggie of the day!

It was a bit nippy in late April, when Bill and Lou Ann McLaren teamed up with me in the Detroit River to fight some walleye during the spring spawning run, where fish from Lake Erie head into Lake St. Clair.  Of Course we were with our trusty Captain, Ed –who operates Medicine Man Charters and he is quick to break out a joke if the fishing slows down.  I couldn’t sleep the night before, dreaming about some of the monsters Captain Ed has netted in years past.  There were times when we limited out within two hours, throwing 5 lb. walleye back because bigger ones were in the net.  Mmm…2015 sure sizzled, coated in cracker crumbs and parmesan cheese, frying in a cast iron skillet.

Click on this beauty and see it full size!

Our hot spot took us past the Renaissance Center (which it will always be to me) and past some manufacturing sites, eerily belching out rolling, white steam. Lou Ann can sure take some pretty pictures and she captured the cityscape.

The whole point of the story is that me, the Great White Fish Kisser, did not land a single one. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WTF stands for Where’s The Fish?  EVERYONE ELSE caught walleye and smallmouth bass while I clenched my miserable pole with frozen fingers that began to curl and freeze on the reel.  I jigged; I swear.  5,000 pulls earned me nothing but a “skunked” award.  I can, however, tell a few new jokes.

Alysha had her game face on, all buttoned up in her woolies and North Face down.  Real Girls Fish.

The following week, I went back out on the lake, with Captain Ed, and the day proved colder, iced with blowing winds.  This time I brought a trump card, a real women’s pro with me…Alysha Doellner, my future daughter-in-law and reigning First Place Champion in the Women’s Salmon Fishing Tournament on Lake Michigan.  Yeah, sh*t got real.

We landed 16 fish that day and in the process of tossing them from the bow to the live well at the stern (for 3 points) we almost got hit by a freighter.  Captain Ed had to rip that big engine on his Ranger boat ASAP as we reeled in. Dicey. It came up from behind–that sneaky iron devil; in stealth mode.  
Afterwards, Captain Ed said that it is really fun in the shipping channels, when the morning fog rolls in, because these behemoths are weirdly almost silent (killers).  I’m a believer!
Many photo credits to Lou Ann McLaren.
 

These Bald Eagles Act Like An Old Married Couple

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The eagle on the left had a fish.  The one on the right made a play for it.  During their struggle, it fell to the ground.

After he dropped his fish, they both just sat there looking so upset!  They kept looking down at the ground, the fish would do a little flopping, but no one picked it up. “It’s all your fault, no we’re are both screwed!”  If they had fingers, they would be pointing.  These eagles were so funny.

The woman behind the lens, capturing this squabble, is LouAnn Adair McLaren.  She always seems to be in the right place at the right time, making it look easy.  It’s not. For years I’ve enjoyed seeing her work on Facebook and thought to share her cute eagle FISH FAIL here, with her permission.  She travels extensively and specializes in North American fish and wildlife.

 

Facts About Bald Eagles from the National Eagle Center:

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In the wild, 70-80% of eagles die before they reach adulthood at five years of age. An eagle that makes it to adulthood might live 20-25 years. In captivity, eagles are known to live much longer, 40+ and up to 50 years, due to a controlled environment, nutrient rich diet and veterinary care.

Bald eagles are found across North America and typically near lakes and rivers.

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Eagles use both monocular and binocular vision, meaning they can use they eyes independently or together depending on what they are looking at.  An eagle eye has two focal points (called “fovea”  [singular] or “foveae”  [plural]) one of which looks forward and the other to the side at about a 45 degree angle. These two foveae allow eagles to see straight ahead and to the side simultaneously. The fovea at 45 degrees is used to view things at long distances. An eagle can see something the size of a rabbit running at three miles away.

Eagles can achieve 30 mph using powerful wing-beats and even faster when diving after prey (stoop). Bald eagles can dive at up to 100 mph; golden eagles at up to 150 mph.

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The average wingspan ranges from 6 to 7.5 feet (182cm-229cm).  Wingspan of an eagle depends on overall size. Eagles in northern parts of their range tend to be larger overall, including a larger wingspan.

How much does a bald eagle weigh?  Weight varies depending on latitude and gender.  Generally, males weigh approximately 25% less than females from the same area. The average weight of a female bald eagle is 10-14 pounds, however there exists great variation depending on where an eagle is from. Southern bald eagles tend to be smaller than those in northern parts of their range. For example in Alaska, females might weigh up to 18 pounds, whereas eagles in Florida can weigh as little as 6-8 pounds.

Bald eagles and other cold weather birds have special circulation in their feet and legs that allow them to withstand very cold temperatures. A complex set of arteries and veins in the leg ensure that most of the heat is ‘exchanged’, before it reaches the exposed legs and feet. This counter-current heat exchange helps to ensure that a minimal amount of heat is lost through blood flowing to the legs and feet.  Bird legs and feet also have little soft tissue, so they don’t require as much warm blood flow. When they need a quick warm up, they can tuck one foot up against their body, underneath all those warm down feathers – a great way to warm up the toes!


 

Bear Makes Great Catch – Should Play for the Tigers!

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During a recent trip to a park in Seattle known for its “waving bears,”  these motorists had an awesome encounter.  A giant grizzly, who had perfected his begging, was sitting up on his haunches, looking for an easy mark.  He was very close to the road and only a few strands of electric fencing kept him in check.

It wasn’t long before the couple in this 24 second video fell prey to his shenanigans.

They stopped the car and waved. Sure enough, Yogi waves back.  He even flashed them a teddy bear smile. This guy knew how to work it and before long, the passenger was putty in his hands.  She disobeyed every “Don’t Feed The Bears” sign and flipped him a hunk of bread. Incredibly, the bear reached out with his catcher’s mitt, like a pro, and snagged it.  CUTENESS OVERLOAD as they all share a special moment.  Click on the orange type below – to see it all go down.

Great Catch

Spirt Airlines Has No Soul

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Knowing that Spirit Airlines is a discount adventure disguised as a “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” experience, I thought, “Why not?” and booked my first ticket with them to New Orleans.  The online booking was an adventure all by itself.  The fare was $2.00 but by the time you paid for a seat, a bag of peanuts, and toilet paper for every flush, it came up to $196, round trip.

It was all fun and games until the return flight home.  Somehow, within the booking process, I only paid to check my bag to NOLA and forgot to pay the additional $24 for its ride home. Of course, being me, I didn’t realize it until the ticket agent said, “Oh, so you have a bag to check?

The ticket agent informed me with a southern sweet tea voice which I ended up wanting her to choke on, “If you had booked the bag 24 hours in advance it would have only been $24.”  My ankles were sore and swollen from all the graveyard tours and that’s when my head spun around like Linda Blair’s as I screamed,  “W H A T !” (and it wasn’t a question) You are kidding me!”

That’s right, witch, rub some salt in it.

I could feel the heat in my body rise up from the Gates of Hell so I said again, just to be sure, “You mean it is $50 one way for one bag right now?”  Yep.  I just glared at her, dumbfounded.  I felt naked, alone, ravaged and ripped off.

There are times in life when one loses control and makes a complete jackass of themselves and lives to regret it.  This wasn’t one of them.

I said it loud and proud, “This is EXTORTION–Can’t you see THAT THIS IS EXTORTION…it’s not American.  I’m a first time customer and I’m willing to pay the $24, but asking $50 now is EXTORTION”  Then I turned around and told everyone within 50 feet of the counter that this airline was a joke.  This airline sucks.  This airline can suck my lady balls.

Eventually, my husband showed up with the bail money.

 

 

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