Archives for August 2014

Buddy – A Series Of Adventures – Hair Of The Dog Days

“Hey, now!  That’s enough, boy!  My goodness, people will start talking.”  You sink back on the bench at the patio bar, sad thatBeer1 your beer chaser was so small, and I wouldn’t let you reach for anyone else’s beverage.   Yes, I said you can have whatever you want from now on, but there still have to be some rules, especially when you are being “café dog”.   Besides, it’s not good to mix alcohol with your medication.

I will never forget when you first discovered a taste for the fermented.  It was in our own back yard.

We spent most evenings that first summer out on the swing in the backyard from mid-July, right up until the snow hit.  The later in the season it got, the more time you spent out under the crab apple tree.  Then one day, after you’d been in the back of the yard for some time you bounded up to me with your “bull in the china shop” demeanor and belched right in my face.  You belched big.  You belched like a sailor, and it smelled like a… like a….well, like a drunken wino.  You had grass, and stems, and a little pink foam stuck around your mouth.  You wretched another great big giddy dog belch, and one more.  You licked your big dog chops and your eyes sort of crossed.  And then, with tail wagging, grass splattered tongue hanging out and wild eyes, you proceeded to stumble across the deck, gleefully terrorizing the girls and knocking everything over in your path.

Good grief, you were drunk on fermented crab apples.

I learned very quickly there is no easy way to scoop up the ka-zillion little red apples dropping from the tree and getting buried into the grass.  The only thing I could do was find a way to keep you from going back there.  Out came the chicken wire fencing, staked across the whole back side of the yard. You would stand at the fence, looking across to the scores of lovely little red, pungent apples on the ground.  They were going to go to waste without you to snarf them up.  But I was determined to make sure your wild child days were over.

It appeared as though I had succeeded.  But my, what a crafty boy you were!

One evening, I was sitting in the dark on the lawn chair having a glass of wine, nurturing a little bonfire.  My mind was churning with random thoughts around the chaos of our newly broken home, and I was quite sad and distracted. I would take a sip of wine, then balance my wine glass on a relatively flat piece of wood on the ground by my side; lean over to stir the fire, sit back in contemplation for a few minutes, then reach for the glass again.  It became a lonely, mechanical routine of sorts.  Oddly, it didn’t feel like I was slamming my wine down, but I must have been drinking fast, because it sure seemed like my wine was disappearing quick.  When I set the glass down on the wood the next time, it brought me back to present moment, thinking “geeze, I better slow down, how much is still in there?”  and instead of leaning over to stir the fire, I broke out of sequential steps, and reached for my glass instead.

I discovered your head there.

Your head was there, over the wine glass.  Your tongue was gently lapping up my wine in the glass.

“YOU LITTLE SHIT!!!  Sneaking up on me in the dark!  Stealing my wine!  ARGHHHHHHH, out of my glass!    Yuck, yuckie, icky ick!”

It was then I feared you may have a problem.

After that night I had to watch you like a hawk and warn anyone who came to visit and have cocktails, “beware of my boy, he will steal your drink if you leave it unattended.”  More than once you made off with someone’s can of beer.  More than once you slurped up someone’s wine.  But you were always ever so careful to not tip the glass or crush the can.  No evidence.   One time, you managed to drag off a wine bottle with about one glass-worth left in it.  I walked around and around, trying to figure out where the heck I set that bottle.  I should have checked with you first.  I found the bottle, sitting upright, empty, in the living room next to the DVD rack.  That’s not where I left it.  The next day, you were sporting a major headache, sulking around, looking for a little hair of the dog that bit you.

Perhaps the most amazing thing that resulted from your craving for alcohol was your willingness to help me clean up after my wild and crazy hot tub parties.  You would canvass the perimeter of the hot tub and pick up all the empty beer cans and Champaign bottles, leaving one little pile by the back door for me to scoop up and toss to recycle.  There was never one drop of liquid in any of them.  You made sure nothing went to waste.

Oh, what a dog.

Weaning you off the barley pop and grape juice was a difficult process.  It meant me refraining from imbibing as well.  And I guess it’s as it should be.  We learn from our parents, right?  So, many new rules were put into effect the next 8 or so years, like when you could participate in social gatherings, and when it was ‘kennel time’. beer2 And I have always had to watch you when the apples start hitting the ground.  Like right now.  But things are different now.  Baby there are no rules.  You can have whatever you want within reason.  I want you to be as happy as possible the rest of your days.  If that means  grazing in the back yard, or having my beer chaser, you go right ahead and tie one on.

But the way you’re looking right now, I have a feeling you’ll be crying for a little ‘hair of the dog’ days tomorrow.  No worries, Buddy, I got you covered.

Cheers.

Schmidts

There’s no denying it—I have an addiction.  Maybe it’s the smoky smell when you walk in, or the tantalizing samples that are handed out, or perhaps it’s something they are adding to marinades.  Whatever it is, I will drive for two hours to get my fix at Schmidts Meat Market in Nicollet Minnesota.

It could be my 11thCommandament— “thou shalt not go without Schmidts”.

The market came to life in 1947 thanks to Gerhardt and Esther Schmidt, who decided to purchase a tiny little butcher shop in Nicollet Minnesota.  His plan was to serve the area farmers custom processing and butchering needs. SchmidtsStore It was a three person business; husband, wife and one helper, but that didn’t last long.  Seems they had a gift for German-style sausage making.  The business soon grew to become a full service butcher shop,  wood fired smoke house, processing production facility and retail store.  They even had to expand into another building.  Over the next 30 or so years, their sons stepped in to carry on the tradition, and Schmidts continued to grow, requiring even more space.  Now in the 3rdGeneration of Schmidts, my addiction destination boasts well over 3,000 feet of operations, providing me 56 feet of full service counter and 75 feet of self-service freezer cases  with an amazing selection of meats and over 50 employees.

I can tell when it’s time to head to Schmidts.  Cravings begin—the kind that get me pacing, fidgeting, opening the fridge 20 extra times a day as if to somehow magically find some maple beef sticks in there.

But no luck. The good news is, it’s an easy, scenic drive, between Mankato and New Ulm; one that can usually be combined with some business and pleasure stops.  In the fall it conveniently blends into a day of pheasant hunting.  And once there, welcome to carnivore heaven.  These butchers provide only the highest quality local meats.  You can call ahead to order special cuts of meat (I have requested whole smoked chickens before—oh my, they are fabulous!) but they will always have fresh selections at the ready every day.

What are my staple “must haves” from Schmidts?

SchmidtsMeatsOne package blueberry wild rice brats
One package cheddar brats
AT LEAST 20 maple beef sticks–and I am not good at sharing them–at all!
Two packages honey BBQ marinated pork chops (2 per pack)
One or two packages raspberry chipotle bacon
A selection of Italian herb, lemon & garlic, mesquite, and tequila lime marinated chicken breasts –each individually wrapped
One Wisconsin style summer sausage –cheddar cheese and cranberries
One garlic summer sausage—soooo garlicky!
One Minnesota style summer sausage – blueberries and wild rice
Half a dozen good size smoked bones for the kids

 

Of course it doesn’t stop there.  They make amazing little single serving pizzas that are scrumptious, and perfect for just me. Their ground hamburger is super lean, and available in bulk rolls or pre- made patties.  For recipes calling for sausage,  I will only use their bulk ground pork.  They have a huge array of cheeses, deli items, unique crackers, spreads, and dipping sauces.  They carry lutefisk.  They carry specialty items. They ship and offer gift cards.  Their award winning German-style summer sausage is their specialty, but trust me, they kick it in all the categories.

Schmidts Meat Market.  An addiction I will never EVER give up!   So, what’s your addiction?

 

 

To Build A Fence

This past spring a whole jumble of good and bad things occurred just as I returned home from my winter adventure season.  I tried to push through the spring.  I tried to show gratitude for the good stuff.  I tried to understand the bad stuff.  I tried to come up with other plans.  I ran out of tears, tolerance, and ideas.

One of many things that have been difficult to find time for has been to erect a better structure to define my back yard. My current fence is slowly falling apart.  It is failing to serve its purpose.   It has become a priority of late.  Functionality.  Safety.  Privacy.  Esthetics.  All good reasons to build a fence and yes, I can check all those boxes as reasons in my case.  And now it’s time.  It cannot wait another day.

Unfortunately I am unable to afford to do as much as I’d like to.  I can’t afford to build a brand new structure right to my actual property line, therefore I’m sacrificing the use of some of my own property until finances allow.   But I am going to do what I can for now.  Something good enough to bring me resolve about what has made this effort such a priority.

To build a fence with raw materials and no directions is a challenging act of mental ability, dexterity, determination and physical strength.  I’m finding that at this time, to build a fence translates into recognizing that right now, I’m feeling a little fragile.  Or a lot.

To build a fence means erecting a structure that will provide some much needed seclusion.fence1

To build a fence means emotional protection, blocking out the bad vibes and negative energy, guarding  me and my family from what’s lurking on the other side.

To build a fence means defining my sacred space.  My terms.  My parameters.  My wooden line in the sand.

To build a fence means rekindling my confidence by tackling something bigger than normal.

To build a fence means accepting help.  Help from people who care about me and my well-being, no matter how raw and tired and ornery I’ve become.

To build a fence means feeling gratitude for having more than one person’s perspective of what can be, or how it could be.

fence3To build a fence means team work on something to be proud of together, no matter how self-reliant and closed off I have allowed myself to get the last few months.

To build a fence means facing and overcoming obstacles, whether they be weed infestations, or tree trunks gnarled into metal, ominous weather, or letting go the pain of a lost relationship.

To build a fence means feeling power, satisfaction and inner peace through a hard days work.

To build a fence means creating something beautiful, functional, and sturdy enough to carry me through a difficult time.fence2

To build a fence means tearing down old and rebuilding new can be a bright, exciting positive experience.

To build a fence means resurrecting an environment where flora and fauna can once again flourish.

To build a fence means taking pride in knowing I have accomplished something important, and have done it well.

fence4

To build a fence means being thankful.  Thankful for even being able to build a fence.

What have you built lately?

 

 

Grilled Okra

Want to offer guests a new and interesting appetizer?  How about take “finger food” to the next level—serve it on a stick?  This southern specialty recipe is so easy it’s ridiculous.  What I do to mix things up is make several different seasoning versions of Okra –typically for one 2 pound batch, I’ll make 1/3 of each of the three spices listed below.  All 3 are yummy, and they go together well with the dipping sauce, too. Okra1

2 lbs fresh Okra, trimmed
3 T EVOO
1 container Garlic Powder
1 container Italian Seasonings
1 container Ground Black Pepper
1 15 oz container Marinara sauce
Salt to taste

Preheat Grill or oven to 450

Split okra into 3 equal piles

Soak skewers for at least 30 minutes to prevent them from burning.  Keep in mind, you can skewer the okra vertically or horizontally, it all depends on how you want to serve it.  I prefer 1 vertical okra per skewer for big crowds, but may do 3 horizontally for smaller get-togethers.

Toss the 1/3 okra in EVOO to coat and place on skewers
Cover okra in Garlic Powder and place on cookie sheet
 
Toss the 1/3 okra in EVOO to coat and place on skewers
Cover okra in Black Pepper and place on cookie sheet
 
Toss the 1/3 okra in EVOO to coat and place on skewers
Cover okra in Italian Seasoning and place on cookie sheet

Grill or roast okra approximately 3-4 minutes per side, or until tender

Lightly salt to taste

Transfer sticks of Okra to a serving plate

Serve with warmed Marinara sauce – yum

Serves approximately 10 people as an appetizer

Sound yummy?  Please feel free to share with others and check out more great recipes under my Killer Cookin’ blog category!

 

 

 

Thank You And Goodbye

Two years ago right now, I was preparing to announce my resignation from my corporate position.  Oh, how I felt like I was carrying a “dirty little secret” around most days.  I couldn’t seem to pull the trigger.  So scared to set things in motion. Just couldn’t do it.  Day after day, almost there….then nope, can’t do it.  Holding fast to the mantra “leap and the net will appear”, I was waiting for the right time to present my two week notice.

And waiting.

What was the right time?  When is the right time to walk away from a sure thing?

Ha, that’s assuming what you have is a sure thing.  Something you are happy with.  Something you, and your employer, can see yourself doing, and doing, and doing……forever…and these days, everyone is expendable.  There is no sure thing, except for death and taxes.

In my case, I could have stayed at that position forever.  I loved the job itself, the customers, the territory, the colleagues, and generally speaking, I loved the philosophy behind the company I worked for. I would still be there “if only”. But despite all of it, there were enough unfixable “if only” dynamics going on to make me realize, it was time to go after what I was most passionate about.  At least give it a try, or maybe live with regrets for the rest of my life.

So the day finally came for me to say “Thank you, and goodbye.” more or less.  Well, the way it really went down was;  I met with the Business Manager mid-afternoon, presented my heart-felt resignation with a commendable 2 week exit plan (demonstrating my commitment and respect for the company, the customers, the job and the future) all of which she was grateful to receive.  The next morning, while on my way to my first meeting, I received a call, and was advised to not keep any of my appointments, but instead drive into the office, turn in my phone, company lap top and anything else, and see personnel about wrapping up the loose ends as this would be my last day.

Not what I expected.  That’s just not how I roll.  Leaving people hanging.  Leaving things un-transitioned, and “untidy”.  Frankly it was rather devastating, somewhat humiliating. Certainly eye opening.

But, this is often how companies deal with resignations.  Whether you initiate the separation or the company does, it seems that more and more, the two week notice is not a part of the process. Being walked out the door is.  This begs the question; how do you keep it a professional and positive break?

One simple phrase and we are done here:

“Take The High Road.”

Okay, so it’s not so simple and we’re not done here, but truthfully, the key really is to always take the high road.

In my case, sure I could have focused on the ‘real’ root cause of what pushed me to make my decision, but that would have proved nothing, changed nothing, or meant nothing to them.  Instead, I focused on what positive outcome came of my situation, and looked at things in a positive light. Circumstances lit a fire under my rear, and awakened something in me.  Deciding to resign presented me an opportunity to pursue my heart’s desire, my passion.  Keeping that in perspective allowed me to act diplomatically, and feel proud that I maintained professionalism throughout the resignation process. That, in turn, reflected what I stand for in business and life.

Five Simple High Road Tips

Behind Closed Doors—without a doubt, in life, never tell anyone anything you want to remain a secret.  Even your best friend.  Your mom.  Probably not wise to tell the dog.  For sure not the bird. So for goodness sake, don’t whisper in confidence to anyone at the office that you intend to resign. No one should know a thing until after you officially present your resignation.  Why not?  Out of respect.  Besides, perhaps they’ll try to convince you to stay. But most importantly, because no matter how good someone’s intentions are, your secret will somehow, some way get out, and to have your employer hear you’re leaving through the company grapevine is tacky, disrespectful, and unprofessional.  No matter if you are ‘hating on your job’, or especially if you are not, it’s simply not taking the high road to leak the news.

The Animals Are Restless—when word does get out that you have resigned, keep in mind, maybe you will be afforded a transition period, or maybe not.  Either way, make sure you don’t spend the remainder of your time in the office spewing horror stories to your colleagues and customers about how awful it’s been to work there.  The damage control that will need to happen long after you are gone could be unforgivable Likewise, how rude to initiate bragging sessions about your new position, there’s no need to rub it in to those you are leaving behind.  If someone asks what your next step is going to be, have a short, articulate explanation prepared that simply states the facts.  Take that high road, remain professional, and don’t be construed as someone who tried to launch a mass mutiny.

Be The Superhero—even if you are already an overachieving super employee, do your best to remain, if not exceed that image once you have reached your decision to resign, and follow through right up until your last minute.  Spending your remaining time, however long that may be, ensuring your customers and/or replacement is going to have a smooth transition will speak volumes to your integrity. While a two week notice remains standard, normal, and the expected, do what makes sense for your situation. Continue to work hard, be helpful, offer transition time. Let your employer know you don’t intend to abandon them in a pile of chaos. Take care to not burn a bridge here. Let it be their decision to not take you up on your help.  Your customers and colleagues, if they knew you at all, will know the difference, and you will end up on top, having taken the high road.

Greener Grass—of course….I repeat OF COURSE, your employer is scared shitless that you are going to run over to the competition, whether they admit it or not.  Can you blame them?  They are thinking it, suspecting it, fearing it—some, perhaps, worried about their entire workforce 24-7, 365.  If you live your life taking the high road, then most likely you’re not jumping into the enemy camp in the first place. But unless you tell your employer up front, they will not know it, and they will be writhing with a growing discomfort, that could fester into a bitter resentment.  Even if you do tell them, they may not believe it.  There’s only so far you can go on this planet; “it’s a small world after all”.  If you want to salvage any hope of maintaining a positive, professional relationship after you’re gone, offer some reassurance that you aren’t jumping the fence.

That is, of course, unless you are going to work for the competition.  Then, that’s a whole new discussion we should be having off-line.

The Exit Interview—careful what you say, and how you say it.  Accusations, criticisms, and blaming, no matter how true it all is to you, is definitely a low road approach.  Talking trash about the company, processes, or people could easily come back to bite you. The interviewer is most likely going to be trained to draw it all out of you if you are not paying attention.  If you worked for a super-sonic ass, they probably already knew that.  Maybe it was their plan in the first place, with the intention to force you out.  If the compensation, or the job description, or the business rules or whatever were just not aligned with your way of thinking, don’t give the interviewer a verbal thrashing about it.  Resist the urge to unload on them, and keep your tone as positive as possible.  Perhaps reposition your thoughts something like:

“This company’s complete lack of a system for tracking performance and incentives was a total rip off and made me crazy” could be turned into “I appreciate the many important business rules and procedures this company has taught me during my employment.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re leaving your job for a better position, to be a stay at home parent, to start a new business or franchise, or if you plan to walk out the door and file a law suit against your employer. Regardless of your motivations for leaving, always take the high road and follow these tips during the resignation process.  Keep things on your end positive, professional, and peaceful.

At the same time, understand that your employer may not reciprocate with professionalism.  They may not have it in them. They may support business acumen or a culture that doesn’t allow a “live and let live” arrangement to occur.  So be it. ???????? Let them walk you out, talk you down, and do you wrong.  The fact that you, at least, did take the high road will speak volumes about you to them and everyone else, to their chagrin. If you need to take legal action, you can do that once you’ve officially severed the ties.

But if your employer does also take that high road approach, it’s a beautiful win-win!  You both will be able to maintain a healthy, positive business relationship that could be useful down the road, sometime in the future—a great credit to both of you.

So, on that note,

Thank You and Goodbye!  😉

 

Looking for some discreet coaching with career plans? Need to hash out some specific issues you are facing?  Contact PR Brady AdVentures, I’d love to help!

 

Buddy – A Series Of Adventures – U Quazy Wabbit

Angel and Sunny Girl burst across the yard after the long eared infiltrator, but you do not join them in hot pursuit of that bunny.  I know you are getting too tired.  You are okay with letting this one go.  But oh, there was a time when no rabbit was safe on your watch.  You expertly dispatched many a cotton tail from our yard, and I thank you ever so much for your stealth efforts.

Remember the first one?  I was picking tomatoes out of the garden.  The girls were relaxing on the swing, and you were watching me work.  I barely noticed when you wandered off to the other side of the yard.  I scooped up my bounty and headed to the back door, not really thinking about you darting back and forth along the back fence line.

I was only in the house for a minute to dump the tomatoes and go back for beans.  By the time I stepped back outside, you were half ways across the yard, heading toward me with something in your mouth.

“Whatcha got, boy? A stick?  Want me to throw the stick for you?”  I couldn’t really see what you had.  But you were heading right to me with it.  I stood by the back door.  The closer you got, the more I could see.  That stick had legs.  Four legs. You paused several times to give your prize a good shake, then ran right up to me with it, stopping a foot from me with your head down, and feet planted firmly on the cement.  I tried to lift up your head.

OMG it’s a rabbit!

I was utterly shocked, and at a loss for what to do.  We had only just begun practicing forced retrieve, “fetch” and “give”.  You were very good at all three, even after the first few lessons.

“Buddy, Give.” I commanded and reached for the bunny.  The rabbit squirmed and you clenched down harder.

OMG the rabbit is still alive!

“GIVE!  Buddy, GIVE!”  I commanded and reached for the bunny.  The rabbits eyes were darting back and forth in a panic.  You maintained your “jaws of death” grip on it.  You were not going to give it up.  The bunny’s little front paws were reaching for me.

OMG the rabbit is begging for help!

“Buddy!  Right now, GIVE!” I commanded, placing my hands under your rabbit filled mouth.  The bunny was squirming, and your eyes were furrowed, as you held tight to that soft ball of fur.  No way, no how are you letting this Quazy Wabbit go.  You turned your head away from me.

I spend the next 20 minutes trying everything I can to get you to release that rabbit.  I tried to pry your mouth open.  I tried to blow on your nose and force open your mouth from under your jaw.  I spanked you, I yelled at you, I sat down and cried and pleaded with you.  The rabbit continued to look at me with desperate, traumatized eyes.  I was powerless.  I tried everything that I had learned, but nothing was working.  You were keeping that bunny, period.

I sat on the back step and started to cry with frustration.  What was I doing with a hunting dog, anyway?  I can’t even control you with some silly rabbit.  What kind of a hunter am I? What kind of a dog trainer? What am I supposed to do?  I put my head in my hands, and wept while you stood strong, locked in place with that rabbit hanging from your mouth.   It reached out with front paws again, and you gave it another good shake.

Oh good grief, I sighed.

Just as I began to lift my head to try one more time to extract the animal from your jaws, the rabbit began to squeal a high pitched wretched squeal.  That Quazy Wabbit was calling out for help beyond me.  Instantly and without hesitation, you began shaking that fur ball like a rag doll, shaking it hard and with purpose, while bearing down even harder with your jaws until the squeals stopped, and the rabbits body became limp and lifeless.

Then you held your mouth over my lap and dropped that Quazy Wabbit right into my hand.

“Good boy. Thank you.”  I said, numb and confused, not understanding what happened, what changed, or why you decided to let me have the rabbit.  By now, the girls came to see what was going on.  Angel was particularly impressed—this capture really downplayed her recent chipper kill.  You established your ranking as top dog of critter patrol in the yard.  Truthfully, I was totally impressed with your ever growing “natural ability” skill set, and showered you with praise despite everything.  You nosed the expired bunny a few times for good measure before I sent it away to Quazy Wabbit heaven.

It was weeks later before I was given an explanation for your stubborn behavior that day.  Apparently it’s normal for a young dog to act this way with their first critter capture.  You wanted to please me and bring me your prize, but didn’t trust my ability to manage a live bunny.  As long as it was still alive, you couldn’t let it out of your grip.  Once it expired, it was safe to give it to me.

Really, Buddy?  Gee, thanks a lot.

But thinking back to our many adventures over the years, you never once did anything like that with a pheasant.  And every bunny you caught since that first Quazy Wabbit was instantly delivered to my hand, dead as a doornail, with no resistance or argument.

QuazyWabbitYou go ahead and kick back, Buddy.  Let the girls work on this next one.  You’ve more than earned your critter patrol stripes in our household.

Buddy?

Buddy?

Where are you going, boy?

“Hey—you Quazy Wabbit—you’d better scoot outta this yard if you know what’s good for you!”

 

 

 

Bulk Breakfast Burritos

When I have a big week of getting up super early and don’t want to skip breakfast, this is a perfect solution, making several days-worth of a quick and hearty morning meal.  Want to serve up something more interesting than scramble eggs for your guests?  This is always a crowd pleaser at my house!BulkBur1

6 eggs
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
½ onion chopped fine
4 cloves garlic chopped fine
Breakfast sausage (optional)*
Shredded cheese
1 pkg 8 inch Tortilla shells (usually 15 in a package)
1T butter
2 t cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t pepper
¼ t salt

BulkBurr2*Brown sausage in skillet, and drain most grease

If using sausage, omit use of butter 

Otherwise if not using sausage:

Melt butter in large skillet

Add onion and garlic and sauté about 5 minutes

Add tomatoes, and all spices and cook 3 minutes

Stir in eggs, and cook until eggs are fluffy

Once mixture is fully cooked, separate it into 6 – 8 serving portions with the spoon, and place onto the tortillas one at a time, and roll up:

  • BulkBur3Place one tortilla shell on a paper or microwave safe plate, and heat for 15 seconds. Set tortilla shell on the counter in front of you
  • Immediately spread 2 oz of shredded cheese in a horizontal line across the bottom of the tortilla.
  • Place one portion of egg mixture in a horizontal line onto the cheese
  • Tuck bottom edge in to begin making a tube
  • Fold sides into center and roll up tortilla

Serve immediately, with mild salsa and fresh fruit, or store in a container or ziplock bag in the fridge for later.

To eat later, simply place in microwave for about 1 to1 ½ minutes.

Makes 6 – 8 burritos

 

 

Game Fair!

Did you hear that?  It’s a duck!  No, it’s a Goose!  No, wait, it’s a Turkey!  Oh my goodness, it’s all of them!  It’s the call of the Outdoor Sporting Show we’ve been waiting for all year—Game Fair!

Guns and bows and gear and gadgets.  Seminars, demonstrations, contests and exhibits.  Archery, Sporting Clays, Trap and Skeet.  Working dog and Agility dog demonstrations.  Sharp shooters in action and hunting authorities sharing secrets.  The amazing Falcon exhibit.  Hands-on opportunities to learn how to hold and shoot a shotgun.  Need some tips on game call technique?  Get some great training advice for your dog, test his skills in the field, and win great prizes.  See all the dog breeds, and maybe find a new bundle of fur to bring home.  Artwork, wood work, gun smiths, the best in motorized toys for adults, and great games for the kids, it’s all there on 80 acres of exhibitors and events. The perfect place to bring your guns, your bows and the whole family, including your pooch, to find out what’s new in the sporting world.

What outdoorsperson could possibly pass up Game Fair?

Live it up in the Great Outdoors, attend Game Fair!

Two Great Weekends:

August 8-10   and   August 15-17

Fri and Sat 9-6   and   Sun 9-5

For more information, goto:

http://www.gamefair.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

One With The Bow

Archery.  A practice I’ve enjoyed well over 25 years; as a competitor, a hunter, and just for the sheer fun of being around people who enjoy aiming at a target and hitting it.  Anyone can shoot the bow.  Anyone, whether you’re 5, or 95 years old.  YOU can shoot a bow.  There is no age limit for the stick and string.  No arduous strength requirements, except for those we unnecessarily place on ourselves.

Simply pick up the bow.  Place the arrow.  Draw the arrow back, aim, and let go.  A series of steps that can become…dare I say….addictive?

It’s time to prepare for this year’s hunting season.  Time to make sure my gear is tuned, and most importantly, that I am in tune with my bow.

Being a confident archer requires knowing as much as you possibly can about your instrument.  I know my bow, and body well.  Years of conditioning, years of shooting 120 arrows a day, 5 days a week and tournaments on the weekends.  Picturing bulls-eyes on the ceiling in bed at night.  Thinking perfect shot placement.  Shooting with my eyes closed at an empty bale at 7 yards.  To shoot well, is to have perfect form.  Become one with the bow.

I can close my eyes, feel the bow in my hand and be aware if it is resting too high, too low, or fitting just right to my small hands grip.  When I go through my mental checklist, I open myself to be conscious of how I’m standing.  Are my feet slightly apart, at the correct angle to the target?  Hips over the feet, weight slightly forward, standing tall, shoulders down.  Holding the bow straight out from my body like a capital T, I feel for the correct posture and stance.  There it is.   Elbow out, slightly bent, loose grip on the handle.  Nock the arrow onto the string, gently placing it onto the arrow rest.  One finger above, two below the arrow on the string, fingers locked into positioned as though they are curled extensions of my hand and arm.  My arm, an extension of my back.  My back, the source of my power.   Deep breath in, exhale and squeeze the shoulders together– drawing the bow back.  I am at full draw.

With my eyes closed, I methodically recall the specifics of where things are when I am at full draw, and go through the checklist of where they should be.  Where the string touches my skin at full draw.  How my peep aligns to my eye.  Are my fingers wrapped around or clinging to, the string?  Is my bow hand relaxed?  I calmly breathe, noticing nothing but where things are at full draw.  Elbow slightly bent, shoulders squeezed together, I should be able to hold this position for a very long time.  It could take a while for the deer to step into perfect shot placement range.  I open my eyes.  I can see a perfect sight picture from the peep, to the sight pin, to the target.   I am an extension of the bow.  There is nothing more but the arrow, and the destination.  Pin is on the target.  Holding steady on target until it’s time to release the string.  Feels comfortable.  Feels balanced.  Feels right.  Wholeness.   Emptiness.  Nothingness.

Release the string.

Into the center of the target!

I was no different than anyone else when I first shot a bow.  I fought with every shot, trying to put arrows in the center of the target.  Archery frustrated me.  Sometimes I hated it, especially if other people saw me shoot poorly.  The harder I tried to make things happen, the less they did.  It wasn’t until I completely changed my approach, closed my eyes, and listened to very wise coaches that things finally changed.

Archery is all about meditation, actually.  Archery can provide a zen-like state of mind if you let it.  If you allow the practice to work its magic, everything around you will disappear as you shoot the bow.  Repetition, doing everything exactly the same, every single time, becomes so much more than a learned habit.  It becomes a natural part of you, found and reinforced in meditation.  All that will remain is your breathing, the arrow and the destination.  There have been many days I couldn’t wait to get to the indoor range so I could relax from a busy workday.  Escaping into archery, practicing perfect form tunes out the people, the chatter, the activity, and brings me to the center of my breath, much like Yoga.

Not bad for the first day of practice!

Not bad for the first day of practice!

And now as I prepare for Septembers season opener, I realize how much I’ve missed this feeling.  It has been some time since I last drew my bow.  Am I able to bend at the hips to take an uphill or downhill shot without altering my form? What if I have many more layers of clothing on—how will that change my shot?   I will set up many shooting scenarios in the next few weeks, to awaken and remind me of everything I have engrained into my form.  Nothing will be left to chance.  It’s all there, waiting to come back.  As I draw the arrow across the rest, I feel that confidence.  I feel that peaceful confidence, I’m melting into the bow, becoming the bow. I am an extension of the bow.  Picturing the perfect shot placement.  The arrow and the destination.  The target.  The bulls-eye.  The fall harvest.  Tenderloin venison steak.

My self-imposed  rule as a bowhunter is to be more than 100% ready physically, technically, and emotionally to step into the field and harvest my quarry.  My rule as a conservationist is to do my due diligence, hunt and dispatch my game legally, quickly and ethically.  My rule as a spiritual person is to always be thankful for what has been presented to me and my family, never taking life for granted, or more than what I need.

SONY DSCArchery as it relates to hunting brings me to an astounding realness in the wild. The combination of my abilities as an archer and my abilities as a hunter, manifests an experience well beyond the expectation of fair chase.  Tuning into the softest step crunching the leaves, tuning out any thoughts of work or friends or expectations at home.   Noticing the circling crows above and the flattened grass trail to the swamp.  Finding that funnel where the bucks run through, flanked by a scrape and rub line.  The feeling of being watched, the surprise of a rogue squirrel.   I cannot imagine not being able to spend time in the woods filling this insatiable drive to be as one with the earth, and, one with the bow.

 

 

Angles Curves and Mounds Part 2

It’s morning.  Yesterday is just a blur.  At least I feel rested, and ready to tackle the next leg of this learning experience.  I am up as the sun is rising, making coffee, waiting for Cindy to stir. The Toy Hauler has had plenty of time to “stabilize” on level ground now, so I go test the fridge to see, just in case, if it would somehow miraculously work.  Nope.  Nothing.  Not a wisp of cool from the fridge or freezer after 30 minutes of hoping.  At exactly 8 A.M.  I call the Bemidji RV service store hoping to secure an appointment for my Toy Hauler’s malfunctioning fridge.  The man on the phone says they are backed up two weeks.

“But…but….all my food will go bad!”

“Can you get here right away? Maybe we can sneak you in.”

“Oh, thank you!  It’s 8:10 A.M. I am about 40 miles away.  I’ll leave right now!”

Yeah, right. Sure I will.

We analyze and discuss the angle and curve we need to navigate around in order to clear the outhouse building.  It’s going to be tight, but Cindy insists it’s “no problem.”

I jump into the driver seat and take a stab at pulling out.  Once again, the key is to pull over as far to the left as possible in order to get all 38 feet or so of truck and trailer through without taking off the corner of the outhouse roof.  I quickly discover I can’t get left enough without driving up into the heavy brush.

 

Curves2Corner“Left!  Left!”  Cindy is calling out.

“I CAN’T!!!  I’m in the WOODS!!!”  I reply.  I’m going to scratch the hell out of the truck and trailer.

We can’t clear the building.  We do clear more brush out of the way.

I try and try to swing farther left.  It’s not enough.  Back, and forth.  Back and forth.

“Cindy, you try.”

Back and forth some more.

I am about ready to cry.  Finally, after spending over two stressful hours of back and forth, trying to maneuver the Toy Hauler around the shed and up through the narrow curved “driveway” out onto the narrow tar road, we clear the building and trees and are on our way to Bemidji.

So much for getting there right away.

But I pull into KB RV Center just past 11:00 A.M., and the owner is gracious enough to take a look anyway.  We have to leave the Toy Hauler with him for the day.  They will call when it’s ready.  That’s our invitation to explore Bemidji, so off we go, feeling the freedom of not pulling 28 feet of monster behind us.

It is entirely possible to see all of Bemidji, and have lunch, in less than 4 hours.  So when it was 3:45 and I still hadn’t heard from the Service Center, we decided to go back and check.  They were done testing and troubleshooting, and my timing was perfect to get the news.

“The fridge works fine.  We found nothing wrong.”

I’m stupified.  Mortified.   “Whhhat? No!  That can’t be!”  I cry.

The technician takes me to the back service area to show-and-tell me about my fridge.  Apparently it is entirely possible that the fridge just needed 5 more hours of sitting level for it to kick back into working mode on its own.  All parts are working fine.

“But are you sure?  What if I get it all the way back into that property and it doesn’t work?”

“We’ll come out there and fix it. You don’t have to bring it back in.”

“Promise?  You have no idea what hell it took to get here…..promise?”

“Yes.  I promise.  I will come out to you. “

“Really?”

“Yes.”

Heavy sigh of relief.

The technician did notice a few other things that could use attention, and when I explained to him what was going on with the water and hot water heater situation, he said they would be able, and happy to perform that work too, and they would come out to me.  In addition he gave me some instructions on maintaining the air conditioner, replaced two of my missing gutters, and positioned the Toy Hauler so that I could exit without difficulty.

My Knights in shining armor.

Cindy and I exchanged looks.  There is no way we could have known.  It is what it is.  I thanked my new favorite RV repair guys, so grateful for their integrity and kindness, and we headed back to Leech Lake.  Back to the driveway of many memories.  Bad memories.

I swear I was about breaking out in hives the last 7 miles in.  And then came the final turn onto her narrow road.  I slowed down to a crawl, contemplating how to get into that driveway again.  Remembering how hard it was to pull in, then turn around to face the other direction.  I know I need to pull farther over to the left to have enough room to swing around.

“I’ll get out and direct you.”  Cindy says, jumping out.

I attempt to swing right, but she is directing me to turn.  I begin to turn to the left and she beckons me to come forward—then suddenly she is calling “Stop! Stop!  NO!”  I am too angled and about to clip the left side of the trailer on a tree.

Back, forth, back forth.  Now I am about jack knifed.  I have done more backing in this one trip than the entire time I’ve owned the Toy Hauler.  In other words, this trip is my first real experience backing the Toy Hauler.

I want to cry.

Frustrated, I manage to back out all the way again, and pull far forward down the road to straighten out.  Then I back up past the driveway.   I keep backing down the road for a fresh start.  I come up on the driveway slowly.  As I pull far right to swing in to the left, my passenger wheels leave the tar, I pass the driveway, like I did yesterday.  Hard left, Cindy is about to have a cow fit, thinking I’m going to clip the signs on the tree.  Mirrors in, I miss the signs by an inch.  Pulling ahead, straightening out, slowly, feeling the weight of the trailer on that downhill grade…..I slowly clear the driveway entrance and am heading straight into the yard. Straight for the lake.

It’s 6:00 in the evening.  We’re in.  Time for a beer!

We take a little break, let the dogs out and reposition the blue tarps.  I dig out more leveling boards, and we find a few more in the yard.  I will need to raise the passenger side of the trailer up about half a foot or better to be level.  Not an easy task.  We talk about how to proceed.  It’s agreed I need to swing far, far left right away, then hard crank to the right before getting to the “drop off” hill, in order to swing around enough to just drive right over to the other side of the yard into a good position for landing on those tarps.

Okay, it’s game time.

I get behind the wheel, and initiate the plan.  Cindy is watching to ensure I don’t hit a tree I can’t see.  Straight ahead of me, I am looking at the lake.  Now would not be a good time for the breaks to fail.  I swing far left, inching downhill, then crank hard to the right, inching….inching……I cannot see the drop off hill over my hood.  Cindy is screaming “STOP!  STOP! YOU’RE TIPPING OVER!!!”

WTF?

What does she mean, tipping over?

“Back up!!  Patty, BACK UP!!!”

I put it in reverse and back up.

“NO!  Pull forward!  FORWARD!”

I carefully pull forward, worried about that damn drop off hill.

“Back up!  You’ve got to back up!”

I put it in reverse, but I cannot back up.  The weight is all pushing downhill.  I’m asking my Chevy 1500 a lot to back up over 6,000 pounds up a hill.  I am in 4WD low and cannot budge at all.

WTF?

I get out.  Cindy’s eyes are big as saucers, her face is flushed red.  “I thought for sure this trailer was going to tip over.  You came so close to tipping over!” she gasps.  I am speechless.  Why can’t I back this thing up?  I walk around to check the hitch, look at the drop off hill clearance, and then it hits me.  Slowly, sadly, I walk around back to the driver side wheels of the trailer.

OH MY GOD.  There was a solid oak stump, about two foot tall, and 18 inches wide, wedged in tight between the two trailer wheels.  Apparently I pulled the trailer wheels right over this cluster of stumps, almost tipping the trailer. Curves2WedgedIt is now 6:30 and this rig is going nowhere any time soon.

Needless to say, my mind clicked into auto pilot at that moment. In a panicked attempt to rescue my trailer from the clutches of Mother Nature, I sent Cindy running for axes, hammers, crow bars, and useless little hand saws as I swung and chopped and cursed and pounded and tried and tried to whittle away that damn stump with all my might.

“Patty you need to take a break!  Girl, where do you get that energy?”  After over an hour of relentless determination, I was spent.  There was a little pile of wood chips on the ground.  The stump won round one.  She managed to pull me away.

Time for a beer.

“Cindy, I need a chain saw.  A chain saw or any kind of electric saw would help.”  I am not going to be able to get anywhere with these tools.  “What about a neighbor?  Could we ask a neighbor for help?”  I’m grasping at straws for ideas, realizing this is a super huge job that could be crazy expensive to hire out.

“Hey, maybe my nephew Mike is still up here.  I’ll try calling him now.”  She offered.

No answer.  She left a message.  Now we wait.

Three beers into the evening, now its 7:40 and I begin round two.  It will be dark soon.  How can I leave things like this all night?  Swinging the mallet like a mad woman, Cindy watches with concern.  She cannot help me, having had surgery on both shoulders, and both wrists, this would be too hard on her.  But she was definitely an expert on  moral support, concern and finding useless tools.  I try a jigsaw she found.  The blade falls out.  I try the hand saw.  Maybe I’d get through in 6 months.  I swing the mallet some more.  It’s no use.

Freaking oak tree!

I want to cry.

In the meantime, her nephew has responded.  Yes, he is still at the lake, and will arrive shortly.

We are saved!

He arrives about 8:30 with his lovely wife Tracey and two kids, Lauren and Sam.

With the gusto of a professional woodsman, Mike digs under the stump.  In the meantime, Cindy actually finds A CHAINSAW!  And he puts it to work.  Within a matter of 30 minutes, the trailer wheels are free and clear of the oak stump.

Oh my yes, there was a celebration to be had!  Mike was by far the super hero of the day.   I handed the keys to Cindy.  She pulled the trailer around and into position, while he and I maneuvered the leveling boards into place.  With only a few tries, Cindy was able to back onto the leveling boards.  The Toy Hauler was now in place for the remainder of the season.

Or perhaps until the end of time.

We all head back into the cabin, for a toast to a rescue well done.  Never had I felt so helpless or beaten.   Never have I been so relieved.   Now, life is good.

As for Cindy?  Her words went something like this:

“Patty?  I will never, ever EVER own one of these damn trailers!”