Big Bertha

Today October was in her prime. The fiery maple leaves were stunning as they floated down by the hundreds.   Hoards of honkers were flying in formation 30 feet above my canoe as I slipped in one last day of paddling before the snow flies.  My dog was balanced between my knees; risky business for sure!

One of my personal goals this year was to catch and land a fish from a canoe.  Adding a 50 lb. dog to a narrow, low profile, 13′ canoe, along with a couple of spinning reels locked and loaded with hooks, had me questioning my sanity.  But hey, I’m a pretty good swimmer.

I was casting a Mepps Spinner, looking for just anything to hit and figuring I’d get skunked while learning how to maneuver the canoe in the wind while actively casting to targets along the shoreline and trying to control the dog.  My only goal was to not hook me, the dog, or get us all dumped in the drink.

Mepps are my  favorite “go to” lures for the bass on our lake.  If the water is dead calm, I might throw a Luhr Jenson Woodchopper, which is a top water lure,  just to scare the bejesus out of myself when a fish surfaces and strikes.  You don’t catch as many fish using top water, but boy, the ones you do get are worth the wait.

 If people concentrated on the really important things in life,

there would be a shortage of fishing poles. 

All at once, I had a solid strike on the Mepps.  I knew I had a Big Bertha when the fish starting towing my boat like a 15 hp. Evinrude and the drag on my reel was singing.  All hands on deck!

Grateful I had a little trout net with me this time, I reached back for it and got ready.  Remi stayed low in the boat through the bucking, running, and dancing on top of the water that this fighter was doing.  As I reeled and played the fish out, I caught a glimpse of it and my heart skipped a beat.  IT WAS A BIG-BIG BERTHA! She was at least 6 lbs. and closer to 7.  A real fattie.

I worked the pole to guide the fish as close to the edge of the canoe as possible and then using the net as a spatula, scooped real quick to flop it up over the side and into my lap because there was no way the little trout net could hold this pig.  I had to pin it down against my thigh with my left elbow so I could work with pliers on the treble hook as that stupid fish kept thrashing around, seriously rocking the boat.  Remi earned her Master Angler patch today!  She laid down on the bottom of the canoe and let that fish slap her silly.  We took some pictures and released her.  Thank you Big Bertha you big, beautiful girl.  Here’s the link to my Hornbeck Canoe…so you can see what a challenge this day was!  http://www.hornbeckboats.com/boats_nt_13.php

 

Anastasia Beaverhausen

Dogs are not allowed indoors at an elite pheasant and deer hunting ranch called Muy Grande Resort that we stayed at with friends in northern Michigan, near Hillman.  Since I knew the temps were going down to 31 degrees and my child my German Shorthaired Pointer wasn’t about to be kenneled on a straw bed outside, I brought Remi’s trailer so she could be comfortable and warm at night with Mommy.    Her master slept on silk sheets in this 40,000 square foot ridiculous log complex that came with a 24 hour chef and all the high end liquor you could pour.  We rubbed elbows with guests from around the country who had sharpened their storytelling and colorful yarns so well that these sportsmen could make a fisherman blush.  (The light on my bullshit detector was glowing red by the end of the night.)

The Man Cave lockers were filled with double barreled shotguns.  Yellow, green and red shotgun shells were lined up in a roll call above, in the cubbies.  Leather couches were arranged so that the men could engage in bold faced  lies as they guzzled booze–and still not miss a massive buck passing by.  Oil cloth Filson jackets and buffalo checked Stormy Kromers hung from pegs.  The whole place stunk like an Old Spice commercial.  After a few martinis, we were ready to pick from the spa menu and, as Kings of the World,  order up Sean Connery rub downs and mani/pedi combos.

Fall colors were peaking and we saw many deer  in this high fence operation scoring in the 200 range.  Every man walked around trying to hide his big boner.  This was easier for some men than others,  just ask Anastasia Beaverhausen, whose husband, she claimed, after her third Appletini, was hung like a horse.  Oh, we were bad.  We laughed and lost ourselves in luxury until…

my Airstream’s thermostat quit.  31 degrees, remember?  It was a three dog night and I had one dog.  The extra blankets I carry on board were deployed and we toughed it out.  I could see my breath.   I spent the better part of the next day trying not to bash the thermostat with a hammer as its digital E7 error code popped up with every button combination I tried.  In desperation,  I googled an online site called JustAnswers.com.  It cost me $32 in tech support.

The first thing the tech texted me was, “Do you have the Dometic CC2 model?”  I went over and looked. I am not stupid.   I texted him back, “There is no writing on it.  I’m a girl.  It is a rectangle and it is white.”  So, knowing it was a lost cause, he texted me back,   “Just unplug it, wait five minutes, and plug it back in.”  Best $32 I ever spent.

A Horse Called Music

!!alalala

It’s one of those melancholy moons tonight where memories bend and reflect.  The wine helps.

Earlier today I was listening to the 30th annual Farm Aid radio show, featuring Willie Nelson (and many other bands)  live from Chicago, my home sweet home.

His song, “A Horse Called Music” is so beautifully written that I get lost in it until the tears that trickle down bring me back to the here and now.  The song fillets my heart and lays it wide open…especially at the end.

Click the link and let the words and tender tune soak into your body.  My gift to you tonight.  Elevated cowboy art, featuring Merle Haggard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_Hc8cEplSQ

“This dog don’t hunt.”

ww

He listened and a great sadness came. 

For ten years Zeke had given his all.  He burst through thickets and many times cut himself on brambles and thorns to reach downed birds for his god.  He took his job seriously.  There were times when the fur between his toes was covered in painful ice balls, and still he cut to the whistle, ran and retrieved.  Now, he was a little slower and a lot stiffer when coming out of the field. He was crippled up for a few days after a hunt, but always ready to go again.   The twinkle in his eye was hidden under a greying brow, but it was still there!  His 12 o’clock tail rocked furiously between 10 and 2 whenever he heard the word “birdies.”

Lately, though, he had been left behind.  Every. Time.

Heartbroken, he stood and stoically accepted his sentencing, “This dog don’t hunt.”  as his man handed him over to a shelter and drove away.  Zeke had played with the man’s children and watched them arrive one by one.  He will miss them.  He will miss the man, too.  As dogs do, he settled into homelessness.  People came everyday but no one looked past his grey face and egg beater gait.  They saw what was used up in him, not what was left to give.

On the last day the shelter could keep him, Zeke was rescued.  A woman arrived who had read Zeke’s story online.  She offered to foster him in her home, with her children and pets, until she found a Forever Home for him.  The shelter lovingly packed up his things (AKC Certificate, his vet records, leftover heart worm medication and a big tub of Vita-Pet Senior Glucosamine chews.)  He still wore a personalized collar with the name Zeke on it and a phone number that used to mean home.

His foster mother cleaned him up and took lots of adoption pictures of him to post on facebook (a site where Miracles can happen!)  Days passed and Zeke continued to soldier on. 

Then a woman 300 miles away read Zeke’s story and she wanted him.  She loved him in his old age and understood his young heart.  She, too, was a little stiff in the joints and grey.  She rescued a 12 year old girl, Dot, last year and wanted a companion for both of them to round out her family.  Her husband had passed away a few years ago and so she no longer made long drives by herself.  BUT SHE WANTED ZEKE.

Zeke needed a second miracle:  Transport.

People say that facebook isn’t real.  Well, it is real to Zeke and to me.  This writer read Zeke’s story and called his foster mother.  We women pulled together to make a second miracle for Zeke, the “Dog that don’t hunt.”   The pick up time was set for 11 a.m. in Muskegon, MI, two hours away from my start point.  When I met Zeke, I could see that he was a real gentleman.  His carriage was strong.  His eyes were warm and alert.  He held his head proudly.  He didn’t jump up or go wild.  He was a mature boy who had nice manners.  This was no throw-away dog!   Zeke called “shotgun” and we were off!

Dot and Zeke Meet

One cheeseburger (okay, two cheeseburgers) and four hours later, Zeke arrived up north, at his FOREVER HOME, near the beaches on Lake Huron.  His new Mom hugged him and he met Dot.   He rolled around, marked his favorite tree, and played fetch with Dot in their one acre fenced yard, which was filled with shady trees and a nice woodlot.  They became a family.  Today, the world is a better place because Zeke is home.  He is loved.  Zeke curls up in a new bed–where he chirps in his sleep while his four paws are up in the air, pumping and running.

Zeke is hunting birdies again.


 

Casseroles Need to Die

!!!!lalalalalalal

When compared to traditional dinners featuring a roasted meat, potato, and a vegetable, casseroles don’t stand a chance. Have you had a pork roast slathered in tuscan oil and topped with fresh herbs complimented by a roasted sweet potato and green beans baked with Lipton brown gravy and onion soup mix sprinkeld on top?  OMG

Invented at the same time as TV tray tables in the 70′s (another mistake) –casseroles have worn out their welcome.  They all involve cheese as a flavor cover-up and  feature five ingredients or less.  Kill me now.

Break out two chicken breasts on the George Foreman grill and sautee some mushrooms in butter on the stove top to pour over the them.  Done.  What could be easier?  Add Idahoan instant mashed potatoes and nuke a package of  frozen niblets corn.   Beat that Mr. Casserole.  The gauntlet is thrown.

The casserole is grossly over rated.

For the love of God, stop.

 

The Wedding Bouquet

1991 Old MI Jennifer on dock CUTE

We walked along the rocky beach, picking out the prettiest stones.  Our flip flops flopped in unison.  She toddled along in her pink ruffle-butt swimsuit and carried a plastic sand pail, holding the shovel in her right hand and stopping every ten feet for buried treasures.  When she wrapped her baby arms around me, her skin smelled like sea salt and hot pretzels.

A bell rang in the school yard signaling recess; a time for playing Cat’s Cradle and hopscotch–carefree and pony tailed.  Her science project was still incubating at home.  The guinea pig was fed.   A new two-wheeler was wrapped and hidden in the garage, waiting for her birthday.  Innocent, she was made up of lightening bugs in a jar, sparklers, and moon glow.

Sobbing into a wet pillow, sure she was going to die, she swore off all boys.  Forever.  They were unreliable, nasty Sasquatches who needed too much looking after.  Besides, there were better things to do–like driving with the radio blaring, the windows down, and the sunroof open.  She checked the rear view mirror every two minutes to see if she still looked good in her sunglasses.

She had the jello shots ready in time for the coin toss.  Bags of chips littered the sorority house and her posse was dressed in green and white Sparty pride.  Ohio State Sucks.  She’s got finals on Tuesday and no spare time.  Life is a blur of deadlines, drama, and planning a spring break trip.  She calls home.  “Mom, I miss you.”

Rubbing her feet after a 14 hour shift, she wonders to no one there, “Is this as good as it gets?”  Her apartment is tastefully filled with bargains found on the fly.  Her roommate has four legs and a waggly tail.  She’s been to the bullfights in Spain, Oktoberfest in Germany, and the Beaches of Normandy.  Still, she wonders.  She waits.  She works.

A small panic sunk in as she and he realized that this was it.  Today was the last day of restaurant training.  The end.  The goodbye.  Pushing the clock, they decided to go out for dinner.  Not a date, just dinner.  They didn’t think about each other that way…until the second glass of champagne.  Electricity, no…Thunderbolts.   There is no she anymore; there is “we.”

A wedding bouquet is wholly made up of all the things that make up the girl.  The ties that bind, securely wound at the base of the bouquet, hold her childhood memories.  The colorful blooms hold her hopes and dreams.  A bride now, she courageously holds on to her past and her father’s elbow as she starts up that aisle, trembling.  She dares to look ahead, at the groom, and her heart leaps into his arms and their future.  They are ready to begin a new story. 

 

 

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