Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)


I'm down with that...

If it works for squirrels, no reason it couldn't work for people.  Bring on the Soylent Green.

And because there is something innately funny about fat squirrels, a two-fer!


The haul.

Gonna be catching up on Christmas related posts for the next few days. 

The Christmas haul was a little bit light for me this year, mostly because in the weeks before Christmas I decided to make good on a promise to get my wife a new couch in the living room, and we got a membership to one of the local health clubs. 

The cats seem to approve of the new couch, so I guess it was money well spent.  The only negative with the couch is that to be able to afford it, I removed my big gift off my wish list.  While I was out hunting alone this year, I kept thinking about what a pain in the butt it would be to pack out an animal by myself, especially without a proper backpack. Luckily(unluckily) I never had to worry about packing anything out...but it did cause me to list a nice external frame on my Christmas list.  However...since a NICE pack starts at around $200...well, I figured it could wait. 

What did I get?  A nice new beard/grooming set, some comfy lounging pants, new slippers and a Serenity T-Shirt and socks in the personal comfort department.  In the outdoorsy/useful tool department, I got a nice new Kershaw Select Fire(not open assisted, but easy to open one handed) and a new 180 lumen compact flashlight.  Once upon a time, I told my wife if she was ever in doubt, a man could never have enough knives or flashlights. Good to see that lesson sunk in.

The day after Christmas, a planned visit to my dad's house brought us within close proximity of a Cabela's...and it seemed a dang shame not to stop.  We didn't buy much, but I did pick up something from my Christmas list that my hadn't been able to decipher...a set of reactive ground targets for use with my Gamo air rifle.  I hadn't been using my air rifle much in my backyard, because I had been too busy/lazy to research the legality of back-yard use.  I did finally do that before Christmas, and basically, as long as you take a precaution to prevent the pellets from leaving your yard, you are legal.  My plan it to get a sheet of MDF to use as back stop behind my reactive target...and I am hoping to get a lot of practice in in the coming year. 

Every little bit helps.


It was fun but...

Being home is kind of nice too.

Been on the road the last 5 nights with family, doing the 'visiting' this year for Christmas.  We headed out Tuesday night as soon as I got off work, and fought our way over Snoqualmie pass to get to my moms house.  We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day there, having a grand old time.  In kind of a change, we had the fancy prime rib based meal Christmas Eve, and then a much more casual brunch followed by a pasta dinner on Christmas Day itself.

Christmas Day was so casual, that even though my wife and I snuck in early showers, and came down stairs all dressed, we were chased back upstairs to change into PJ's which we spent the rest of the day wearing.  Luckily my wife and I both got some cute new PJ's for Christmas.

The day after Christmas, we actually had to get dressed, and we went to visit my dad for the day before returning to my mom's for the night.  Saturday, just about 'family timed' out, my wife and I left the kids with the World's Greatest Nana, and headed out to Poulsbo to visit spend the day and night with some good friends, visiting wineries, and breweries, and then having an evening of 'roll your own' sushi. 

Sunday, we picked up the kids from my mom's, and headed home to much love from the cats.  One of the wife's friends did a bang-up job of keeping the cats and chickens alive while we were gone, but they were happy to see us home...I think. 

It was a great couple of days. Much time was spent with family, and friends.  Still...it's nice to be home.  I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, with my own pillows tonight, and sleeping in a bit on Monday.  I put in for Monday off a few weeks ago, knowing that I was probably going to need a day to recover from my time off. 


Is it over yet?

We are visiting my mom for Christmas, and the decision was to have our fancy Prime Rib dinner for Christmas Eve, and then Christmas Day would involve a brunch when other guests come to visit.

It was a good plan, until we all tried to remain functional and finish wrapping gifts with bellies full of meat, wine, and then later, bread pudding with rum sauce.


Today was good, and I am sure tomorrow will be better.  Whether or not you celebrate in a religious manner, or a secular manner, or you don't celebrate at all...be good to each other.


Need a little Christmas...

The next few days might get a little busy...and since I haven't heard this on the radio yet this year, I need to share it with you folks.

Still more than slightly bummed out that these young ladies just didn't quite find a lasting success. 


Hard to argue against.

Kate Upton Named People's Sexiest Woman Alive

Hey...far be it from me to play devil's advocate on this one. 

photo from www.entertainmentwise.com

I stand by the fact that I don't even really like blondes...or rather, I like red heads and brunette's better than blondes...but with Kate...it works.  Her build is amazing...and healthy.  I'm not a big fan of the 'visible collar bones/sternum' look...I'll take a Kate Upton or Christina Hendrik's any day of the week over one of those skin and bone runway models.

In her case...it's not just the hair, or the ummm...assets. Or the skin...many women have those to one extant or another.  For me it's the smile.  Man...she ALWAYS looks like she is having a good time.  As someone who occasionally ends up in moods of melancholy, I need a lady with a nice smile...she kind of reminds me of my own Mrs. that way...



I was at Safeway today and saw this in the parking lot.

According to it's badges, it's a Ford...but I couldn't find a model name on it.  One of my friends on facebook thought that it might be one of the Ka's that Ford makes for foreign markets...but it doesn't look like the pictures of those I have seen.  I mean...it's even got a little wanna-be spoiler on the back.

I thought about getting two men and a small boy to help put it up in the back of my truck so I could being it home and research it, but then I remembered I just didn't care that much.

You say tomato, I say...

According to the dictionary, the correct spelling for a circular shaped chunk of fried dough is Doughnut.  On signs around the country, it's Donut.  Down in New Orleans, it's Beignets(which, trust me...I made them a few weeks ago...it's a doughnut). At the county fair, they have elephant ears/fried dough...

Pretty much every sub culture/region has it's version of a 'doughtnut.  The Jewish culture have Sufganiyah(plural sufganiyot). 

I don't go into it much...but I am from a Jewish family on my father's side...but I am not practicing.  Heck...since I never even had a Bar Mitzvah, I'm not sure I can call myself Jewish.  But...Jewish is one of those things that kind of straddle a line...Yes, it's a religion, but it's also a culture, with rich traditions.  And my wife and I want my daughters to know about that culture.  So...we eat matzoh at Passover(and other times, because I love me some Matzoh Brie), and we light the menorah and talk about what it means...and for Hanukkah this year, I made a batch of these sufganiyot for breakfast, and a few nights before that, we had latkes with dinner, and a really tasty noodle kugel(I used Alton's recipe, but egg noodles instead of lasagna noodles) for desert.

I think you always worry that you might be doing stuff wrong as a parent when you are raising your kids, and trying to teach them things that are important...but I think in this case, by tying tasty treats in to a bit of history...my kids have a much better chance of remembering the significance of oil than they would if I just handed them a Jewish History book.

Now I just need to find an excuse to work gefilte fish into a holiday...THAT will stick in their memories for a good long time.


Momma warned me...

When I was a young child(and a not so young child) I was fascinated by the idea of candy/caramel coated apples...mostly because it was the ultimate 'forbidden fruit'.  My mom flat out did not let use eat these...she always said that back in her day, the lowest quality/nasty apples were selected to be covered in candy/caramel, because the only way the could be sold was to cover them in something so people couldn't see what they were getting.

Now...I'm not saying there is any basis in fact here, and I am certainly not accusing any person or company of doing this(other than the creepy lady who used to live down the street from my mom who put this idea into her head)...but I will tell you that I have never had a caramel apple this I did not help prepare myself.

Stories like this fall into the 'it's not paranoia if they really ARE out to get you' category.

Prepackaged caramel apples linked to 4 deaths

The investigation is just kind of getting going, so, far be it from me to even try to guess what might have gone wrong here...but, let's just say I'll give me momma an extra big hug this Christmas.  It just makes me wonder what else she might have been right about...will my face really freeze like that if I keep faces at my wife?


How is that not on purpose?

The last few years, I have done the majority of my shopping on the internet machine, and then waited patiently for everything to show up in the mail.  For the most part, things show up in great condition.  I'll give major props to Amazon....I've never once even come close to returning something for it showing up in bad condition.  If anything, a lot of time their packaging is overkill. 

Place other than Amazon?  Well...things are not always as perfect, and sometimes I sit waiting with bated breath, for things like this to show up in the mail.

Yeah, it doesn't show up the best in the picture, but that crease about 1/3rd of the way across is a bend...right near the 'Do not bend' request.  Inside is a print that I ordered for my new Step-Father from e-bay.

Luckily...the print inside was not creased.  I don't think I can place any blame on the folks I ordered it from...the print was between two pieces of cardboard, a they  wrote 'do not bend' on it. 

Ah, the holidays.


Can't believe I forgot to brag!

So, with our cycle of Handel's Messiah wrapping up, I've had a whole 48 hours now where I haven't had to worry about learning new music. 

That period is now at an end because tonight we had our first meeting for Mid-Columbia's Musical Theatre's production of 'Cats'. 

Yeah...that 'Cats'...Andrew Lloyd Weber's musical about singing, DANCING cats.  Singing, YAY.  Dancing...not so much.  I'm not 100% unathletic...but smooth, stylized, RYTHMIC movements are not my strong point. Neither is wearing tight, clingy unitards. 

There are a few roles with reduced amounts of movement...and luckily, I nailed my audition, and landed one of those roles.  I'll be playing Bustopher Jones. 

I'm excited.  I had more stage time during our production of Les Miserables...but in this those show I have an actual feature roll...two of them in fact because I also will be singing the roll of Gus, the theatre cat, which is a very different part from the one above. 

We get to ease into things...the show is for two weekend in April, and we start slow with only two rehearsals a week through January.  We are expected to start learning music over the Holidays...so I hope my wife and kids enjoy listening to my 'Cat's CD as we go on Christmas visits.


Long Weekend

I was out of town all weekend...the choir I am in, Mid-Columbia Master Singers, did a swing through Pullman and Clarkston, supporting the Washington-Idaho Symphony doing Handel's Messiah. 

Things were made slightly more logistically challenging because there was a graduation ceremony at Washington State University this weekend, meaning we were put up at a hotel in Lewiston, Idaho...convenient for the Clarkston concert, not so much for the Pullman-Moscow rehearsals and concerts.  This meant much criss-crossing of the Palouse, and surprisingly little deer sighting.  I kind of figured with my hunting season over, I would see somewhere around 1200 deer.

I left my house at 2 on Friday, and didn't get home until 8 Sunday, making for a long weekend.  So long in fact, that I had put in a month ago to take Monday off from work.  Good choice.  Other than the length of the weekend, and the fact that I didn't get to see my wife and kids for two days...it wasn't bad.  Both shows went pretty good.  It's always tough to tell from the choir's perspective...you are standing behind the symphony, and so you are lucky if you can hear the 4 or 5 people standing around you...let alone the finished product in the audience. 

Of course, I can't go on a road trip like that without using yelp to plan my meals two weeks in advance. The only real negative thing food/drink wise about my trip was that our rehearsal Saturday morning, less than 12 hours after the last rehearsal, was not good.  There was a lot of vocal fatigue, and with a concert 6 hour away, our choir director begged and pleaded with us to take it easy on our throats, and specifically directed that we not drink any alcohol with out lunches/early dinners.  That made my planned trip to Paradise Creek Brewery for lunch a little less festive than I had hoped it would be.  It did give me an excuse to buy a new growler and get it filled with some Stovepipe Scottish...and, yeah, I might have had a small (16-ounce) taste of it before deciding to get my growler filled...but, they had 8 of their beers on tap...and I limited myself to one.  THAT is dedication and sacrifice.

I also greatly enjoyed a dinner at CD's Smoke Pit in Moscow(pulled pork and brisket platter) and then some fine chicken fried steak and eggs at Hazel's in Clarkston.  It was a very kitschy place that I will need to take my wife and kids to at some point.

Tomorrow it's back to work...got a whole 5 work days left before Christmas.


Not enough.

Our local paper ran a quick two paragraph blurb about two folks in Idaho who were given record fines and lifetime hunting bans for going on a little poaching spree a few years ago.  The local story just basically listed the number of animals and amount of the fine...no real information...just hey, they were fined a lot of money for shooting 1 cow moose, 1 spike elk, and at least 8-deer.

I tried to refrain from judging without getting some more information.  I mean...folks shooting cow moose and spike elk...there is a potential someone doing that is out sustenance hunting...especially in Idaho.  Now...is that legal?  No...as far as I know there is no real provision any more for sustenance hunting, but if I ended up a jury of a poacher, and that person was able to prove that shooting a cow moose is the only think that kept his family from starving...I'd be willing to push for jury nullification.

So...I did a little research, and found this story, and the attached picture removed all desires for leniency from my mind.

Photo borrowed from the Spokane Spokesman-Review, for emphasis. 
A cow moose, a spike elk are one thing.  Spotlighting deer with racks like that, AND THEN being dumb enough to keep those racks.  Nope, nope,nope...that's heinous.  I am 100% okay with lifetime hunting bans.  I am NOT okay with 'time served'.  As a hunter who resists temptation...I'm angry to see this.  Maybe they don't need more jail time, but there has to be some kind of hunter supporting community service they could be sentenced to. 


I wouldn't mind, if...

I really wouldn't have a problem with 24 hour Christmas music stations if 50% of the music didn't just plain suck ass.  Do I really need to hear Billy Idol's 'Christmas Love'(yes, THAT Billy Idol has a Christmas Song) three times in a week?  Nope.

But, I did get to hear a song that was new to me at least this week, and man, did I love it.

The thing is...that video is from 1998.  How does something this epic float around for 16 years before I get to hear it?  Thank gosh for the internet machine, and Bless Mr. Gore for inventing it.

As a singer, I am hear to tell you that that is one of the most challenging pieces that I have heard in a long time.  Your ear, and your sense of timing have to be spot on.  Something like that is very easy to perform badly. 

Since this group was founded at Indiana University, this is just another secret, like lamb bacon, that those fine folks in Hoosierville have been hiding from the rest of us.


Hmmm...now that's an unfamiliar feeling.

For Christmas, the big thing my wife put on her Christmas list was the desire to either get a new treadmill, OR a membership to one of the local health clubs.  I've bought home work out gear before...and the fact is, unless you can afford to drop $2000, you aren't going to be happy.  When we paid $500 for an elliptical, I didn't think that we were being cheapskates...but, all those little things that slightly annoy you build up in a hurry, and then you have a $500 clothes hanger.  So...I knew the answer to this one, especially after pricing up Columbia Basin Racquet Club.  I mean, I don't know what a health club should cost...but I wasn't offended by the price.  It helped that they were having a Black Friday discount for new members.

Anyway...I understand the whole 'Christmas Present' thing...but to me it didn't make sense to pay for something like a health club membership, and not start using it...especially during this dangerous eating season between Thanksgiving and Christmas...so, I gave the membership cards to my wife as an early present.  Oh...and I kept mine, which I finally used this weekend.

Now, I am sore, and tight.  Nothing like going to the gym to make you realize just how much you have let yourself go.  Oh...it's not like I haven't been sore before...or even recently.  Days two and three of hunting season were pretty rough.  It's just that going to the gym and using actual exercise equipment allows you to focus on muscles that you kind of forgot you had...and it makes you sore in places that you forgot you could be sore. 

Well, now due to rehearsals the next few nights, I have a few days to loosen up before I go back to the gym...which is actually tougher, because the longer I wait to go back, the tougher it is to go back.


Take a deep breath.

You might be able to smell it.

Or you can imagine how it smells...but you better have a good imagination, because it smells amazing.  And as good as it smells, it tastes even better.

As far as I am concerned, for $1.29 a pound, there is nothing that gives you more bang for the buck than chicken thighs, especially if you have the time to treat them right.  In this case I rubbed the thighs down this morning(brown sugar, salt, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and some cumin and sage), then threw them on my grill/smoker for 3 hours or so.  I don't really own a smoker...I just use indirect heat and wood chips(cherry today) on my grill.

It's worth the time.


Crafts, and a floor show!

Desperate for something to do with the family today so we didn't just sit around the house and stare at each other all weekend, I threw a Hail Mary, and we headed to the neighboring town of Kennewick to check out the Holiday Craft Bazaar at Sandollar Farms and Alpacas.

It's a cute little place...not big, probably somewhere between 5 and 10 acres, with 30+ alpacas, and goats, and chickens, and bees.  What's always interesting is how close it is to 'town'.  Kennewick is kind of a spread out place, with two or three population/shopping centers, and it's less than 2 miles from some fairly built up areas to acreage properties zoned for agriculture.  In reality, it's a bunch of older grand-fathered properties...but good for them. 

The Bazaar was...interesting.  Alpaca farming is not rare around these parts...I can think of 8-10 alpaca ranches in the surrounding 20 miles, so other farmers were there, peddling their wares.  My wife bought a skein of nice alpaca yarn, and I was quiet taken by a pair of socks I just couldn't bring myself to spend $22 on.  My wife also made contact with one of the farmer/salesmen who was looking for people that do fiber arts to make things for sale.  She basically provides you with the raw material to make hats, scarf's or mittens, and then pays you with additional yarn for your time...a very good deal for someone like my wife.

You could also walk around the farm and check out the alpacas...but we hadn't gone 10 feet from the car when my wife and I spotted this.

They aren't wrestling.  And yes...it's nature...still it's hard not laugh when your daughter asks you 'Daddy...is that what mating looks like?'


It's gotta be the fanfare...

Unless you were living under a rock, or you don't like Star Wars(and I know we don't have any of those commie pink-o types around these parts), then you probably already knew that the first trailer for the 'post George Lucas now owned by Disney' Era Star Wars movies came out last week.


It's short enough that it qualifies more as a 'teaser' than a full length trailer...but the good news is...they didn't mess it up, yet.  Then again, as folks are wont to point out, the trailers for all the prequel movies looked good when they first came out too.

I mean, there are only about 6 scenes...but who ever threw this trailer together knew what they were doing. Menacing voice-over, scenes of sand, and the a helmet-less Storm Trooper.  Quick shot of a cool soccer-ball droid, and some Storm Troopers looking like they are getting ready to do a combat drop.  Okay...a neat 'speeder' zooming away making Harley noises...and then some bad-ass X-wing fighters doing some nap of the Earth flying over a lake, followed by a dark scene in the woods with a sweet looking 'claymore' style light saber....and then...it happens.  You get a quick shot of blank screen, and boy, they hit you right in the gonads...oh, just watch it yourself!  You can jump to 58 seconds if you don't want the full 'build-up' effect.

Oh...John Williams...you the man.  I hope and pray that 200 years from now, he is remembered the same way that we still talk about Brahms and Mozart.  Coming out of the black screen to the F3(rear outside camera view from F-119 Stealth Fighter) of the Millennium Falcon just in time for them to hit you with the opening blasts of the Star Wars Main Theme is genius.  I'm geeky enough to admit it gave me goose bumps the first 17-18 times I watched it.

After the 'not great' movies that the prequels turned out to be, I don't want to get my hopes up...but they make it so hard! 


Well, my face is pretty smooth.

There is a difference between being considered 'cheap', and being considered 'frugal'.  I consider myself to be frugal...and even that would be debatable.  I don't mind spending money to take my wife out on a date, or to buy a nice bottle of wine...but, I will stare at the peanut butter shelf at the fridge for 5 minutes to make sure I am getting the best deal.  I tend not to buy the least expensive option(because it usually doesn't hold up to use), but I also don't buy the top of the line product.  In the end, brand names aren't important to me.  I just want something that will work, for a decent price.

A good example of that is razor's.  I refuse to use the cheap blue disposables, but dang...some of those newest fanciest 5-blade vibrating models are pricy, pricy, pricy.  I tend to buy whatever decent 3-bladed model is on sale.  Heck...I've even been known to use pink or orange razor's if those are what are available for the right price. 

Occasionally my wife will sign up for various kind of freebies online, and every so often, one of those things will actually show up at the house, and even more rarely, I will get to use it.  Last week, we received a Gillette Fusion Proglide with Flexball Technology in the mail...and man oh man,  it does give me a nice shave.  Smoother and with much less effort and grip changes than the generic Matrix-3 I've been using.

It's a nice enough shave that I took a peek at the store yesterday to see what a package of replacement cartridges would cost me...and I dang near fainted when I saw that a 4-pack of cartridges was selling for over $21!!!!!!!!   Crikey...over $5 a replacement head.  That is going to take some soul searching...and some usage tracking...can I get 2.5 times as much usage from one of those expensive cartridges as I can the cheaper ones?  If so, then it is worth it.  If not...well, fool me once, shame on you...

But, if getting a nice, easy close shave is important to you...it IS a nice razor.


I am so done.

No, not with this blog, even though I haven't done anything for the last week...just with some of the stuff that has been occupying the time I could have been using around here.  It's not the holiday's, it's not Handel's Messiah, which has clicked for me much more than Brahm's did...it's the hunting.

Part of the 'being done' is based on the calendar...today is the last day of late muzzleloader season, but a big part of it(since I am here typing instead of you know...actually being out hunting) is mental.  It's funny how you can roll into mid-September with such high hopes, and by the end of November, just feel done in.  The last few days have especially burned me out, with a healthy dose of Murphy's Law following me. 

After getting teased by a buck a week ago, the next day I got in position where I watched nice looking doe head into a draw and bed down.  After giving her 30-minutes to relax, I headed in after her.  I shucked my back pack, and got to within about 40-yards of where I thought she was before she jumped up, and gave me a shot as she started trotting away.  All I heard when I pulled the trigger was a click...the percussion cap was dented, but hadn't fired...and by the time I cocked the rifle again, she had disappeared into the sage brush, and I couldn't get a second chance.  My rifle is a Traditions Vortex NW Magnum...and when I got home that night I did some research, and found that I am not alone in having this issue.  In the garage(working with just a cap, no poweder in the gun) I found that I am having roughly a 30% failure rate...meaning the cap does not fire when the trigger is pulled.  According to the internet, there are a few things you can do...but none of them are a guarantee of success.  In the middle of the season, the day before Thanksgiving, I didn't feel like totally disassembling the gun and trying any of them, so I just dealt with the increased chance that the gun might not fire the first time I pulled the trigger. 

Turns out it didn't matte, because I wouldn't get another shot the next three times I went out hunting.  Two days in a row, with goofy windy weather, I saw nothing, and then yesterday morning, to change my luck, I tried hunting a slightly different area...same farm, just walk in a little further, and pick a spot further up on the hill.  It gave me a better chance to maybe see something in the distance, and repeat my stalk on a bedded animal. 

It paid off early...at about 8:00, I saw a group of 9 does a few hundred yards away...and they were heading my direction, so I decided to stay put.  The bummer is, they must have jumped the road from another property, because their path was going to take them past where I had been sitting the last few days...and then...I get mad still thinking about it.  Another hunter popped up the ridgeline that the herd was working down...and spooked them away from me.  I'm not sure he even saw them...but he did see me...and instead of giving me a wide berth, he walked right up to where I had been sitting for 2.5 hours, and tried to have a conversation with me!  'Hey, are you the maroon truck out there?  Have you seen anything?'  Nope...ain't seen nothing...and as soon as I could I headed off in the direction that the herd of does had gone, but I never did see them again. 

What I did see were not one, not two, but THREE other rigs parked within 30-yards of my truck. I had been parked at this particular spot at 5:40 in the morning, all by myself.  My preferred entry point to the farm was a very distinct set of tractor tracks...let me get in a good half-mile from the road before having to head off through the thigh high wheat/sage.  So...three other groups of hunters(or one group with three rigs working together), showed up, saw my truck parked there...and didn't care.  The farm I was on is private land, but it's posted 'Feel Free to Hunt', so it might as well be public land...but Who Does That?  I know I don't...after I have identified a few areas I want to hunt...if someone beats me to that spot, I don't just park there anyway and crowd them...I have never once parked with a quarter of a mile of another car....and usually further away than that. 

So, yeah...between a gun I couldn't trust, and other hunters I couldn't stand...I packed it in.  I was not having a good time anymore, and there are other things I could be doing with my family. 

As a hunting wrap up...bummer of a year...but, made some good memories with my daughter, and I spent a lot of time hunting by myself without getting hurt, or getting myself in a situation I couldn't gt out of. 


I'm so wasting my time.

While I am out in the hills and wheat fields trying to find a mule deer, the off-duty police officers in Indiana are knocking down bucks inside the local Wal-Marts. 

Someone on facebook even posted a picture from the scene.

That's a nice looking buck...and I believe the reports that it was causing a holy ruckus before an off-duty officer stepped up and tazed the buck, and then later had to taze it again after the crowd wouldn't give it space. 

The deer did not survive.  One can only hope that the meat went to a good cause. 


Okay...where is the hidden camera?

Went out yesterday to do a spot of hunting for the late muzzleloader season.  Conditions could hardly be more different than they were during the early seasons in September.  Then I was complaining about it being 80+ degrees in the afternoon...Saturday it started out frosty and foggy, and stayed overcast and cold all day.

I was unprepared for how difficult the fog made range estimation.  Two separate times early on, I clearly saw a deer silhouetted out in the fog, but...they were backlit against the horizon, and with this being the first time I had hunted this property, the fog prevented me from having any idea what kind of backstop there was behind those deer, so I passed on the shots.

In the current season, I can shoot either a doe, or a 3-point minimum buck, so of course it should be no surprise that at around 10:00 as the fog was burning off, I had a nice big-bodied spike buck walk right up on me, and proceed to prance around within 50 yards of me for over half-an-hour.  I saw him approaching, and until he got to within 100 yards, I would have sworn he was a doe...his antlers looked like someone had taken a #2 pencil, broke it in half, and glued both halves between his ears.  It felt like such a set-up that I kept looking over my shoulder for the hidden camera. 

The afternoon was less exciting.  Even though the fog lifted, it stayed overcast and never got much over 34.  I believe in layers when I am hunting, and when needed, I have a nice waterproof outer layer, and it kept me dry through the occasional round of drizzle/freezing rain.  All I really saw in the afternoon though were a few coyotes, and while I was tempted to take a shot at the 2nd one(his CPA was within 40-yards of me), I passed.  Nothing against shooting coyotes(in fact, it's the price some land-owners ask of you)...I just hate to make noise shooting a coyote if there is any chance that a deer might be getting ready to round a corner into my draw, or crest that next ridge over.

Hey...it couldn't have been that bad of a day...I'm looking forward to going out again Sunday!


It's also just plain fun to say.

We had our big Thanksgiving lunch at work this week, and since(no need for false modesty here) I am the best cook at work, I jumped on the grenade of preparing the turkey.  With access to two Traeger's at work, I planned on smoking the turkey instead of hogging the ovens that people were going to need to warm up other food in.  Since I was not motivated enough to spend the night before at work, I initially discarded the idea of doing whole turkey's and started looking at just throwing some faster cooking breasts on the grill.

But, even though it wasn't just my money I was spending, the cheapskate in me took over.  Restaurant style REAL boneless turkey breasts(not the boneless 2.5 pound breast roasts you can find at all the stores) was over $3.20 a pound...and even bone-in breasts were almost $2.00 a pound.  At Win-co, I could get whole turkeys for .88 cents a pound...but there was the time issue, which had me all tied up in knot's, until the internet machine taught me about Spatchcocking.

Spatchcocking is basically a fun to say, attention grabbing word for 'butterflying'.  You take your turkey, and with a nice pair of kitchen shears, you snip along each side of the back-bone, removing it.
From there you can either use a knife to remove the wish bone, or just give the bird CPR, breaking the breastbone and cartilage until you get the bird to lay adequately flat.

The first one was tough, but by numbers 4 and 5...it was going to pretty okay.  After opening the birds up, I lightly brined them(only 1/3rd cup of salt per gallon of water) because they were Jennie-O pre-basted turkeys, and then brought them into work and then split 5 birds between two Traegers. 

I was a popular guy...and the turkey was AMAZING.  No fewer than 8 other guys were saying that they were now going to try this technique for their turkeys next week.  Because it was cold, I ran the Traegers at about 300 degrees for almost three hours.  I could have probably done 275...but I didn't want them to take too long, plus...you don't want them in the 'Danger Zone' too long...better to get them heating faster.

Too bad you there is no scratch and sniff around here. 


So...it's a fancy donut?

Earlier this week, my wife and I were watching America's Test Kitchen(as we are wont to do), and they were making up a batch of beignets.  They looked pretty good, and I committed to my wife that I would make a batch for breakfast this weekend. 

Now, I couldn't follow the Test Kitchen's recipe exactly, because I didn't write it down, and they are a pay site....but with a bit of searching, I settled on a common looking recipe. 

For ease, I whipped up the dough last night, and after letting it rise on the counter for an hour, I stuck it in the fridge overnight.  This made the dough much easier to work with this morning, and the end results were scrumdiddlyumptious, and picture worthy.

With a disclaimer that I have not been to New Orleans for the famous Café du Monde beignets...mine tasted pretty good...but I am not sure I got them Authentic.  Most of the ones I have seen pictures of have a 'puffy' air pocket in the middle.  Mine were very uniform inside, and tasted almost like an apple-less apple fritter.  It's possible I overmixed them...

But heck, even if they weren't beignets, they were fresh, warm fired dough pillows...which are never a bad thing.


Cold, dark, and early.

Next Thursday, late muzzleloader season opens up...and of course, it's NOT in the same unit where I previously hunted this year.  Nope...instead, it's an area about 45 minutes away from here, out in the wheat fields that make up the start of the Palouse.

There is very little, as in NO,  publicly owned land in this area...it's all privately owned farms...and roughly half of that is posted no hunting.  In actuality most of that land is leased by a couple of local hunting clubs.  Of the rest, there is a decent amount posted 'feel free to hunt', as well as a few 'hunting by written permission' properties.  Because I had hoped to shoot something earlier in the year, I had not put much effort into pre-planning for this late season.  It's really kind of a 'target of opportunity'...only a 45 minute drive from the house, and an opportunity to putz around a few places to shoot a doe. 

The goal of heading out this morning was to learn how accurate my maps are, and to learn how many of the 'feel free to hunt' websites listed on the Fish and Wildlife Departments website actually exist.  Any deer I saw would be gravy.

Turns out there was a fair amount of gravy. 

The only real hiccup is that these deer were on a piece of land posted 'hunting by written permission only'...and with the season only a few days away, what kind of dirt-bag is still trying to get permission to hunt on private property.

This kind of dirt-bag.  I mean...the worst they can do is say no. 

They didn't say no...but they haven't said yes yet.  In this case, the landowner would rather just not say 'yes' to someone he doesn't know...there are liability issues, and...'earning' it issues, neither of which I begrudge them.  He pointed out that the hunting leases on the properties around him charge upwards of $1500 for access.  He would like to see people put in $200 worth of value around the farm....either helping with labor stuff, or donating supplies, or whatever else you can think of...which all makes perfect sense.  That's kind of the reason I started trying to find a place for my daughter to hunt back in August...so I had time to earn that opportunity if it was expected.  In this case, I saw so many deer on this property today that I couldn't NOT ask. 

So, I'll send the guy an e-mail with details of my skills(strong back, weak mind), and see if he has an opportunity to schedule me in over the next few weeks.  If not, I'll take my chance on a few of the 'feel free to hunt' properties.


Double Damn.

In the past, I have written a few times about a young man named Quincy

For those of you who don't feel like clicking on the links, the nephew/son of some friends I have had since 5th grade,  Quincy suffered from the Duchenne type of Muscular Dystrophy, which is considered one of the more deadly forms of M.D.  Earlier this week, shy of his 14th birthday, Quincy passed away from heart failure.

It...it hit me pretty hard.  Even knowing that this was going to happen to this young man sooner rather than later...seeing him going from walking, to walking with braces, and then a full on walker, and then a wheel chair, and finally ending up bed ridden, as medicine after medicine failed to help. 

Maybe it's because he is so close in age to my older daughter...and, we have been so lucky.  There are so many things that can go wrong in this world...and we have been lucky to dodge them all...so far.  Past returns are no guarantee of future success. 

It makes me want to appreciate my kids so much...look them in the eye and say 'I love you' each time I give them a hug.   Instead,  I still come home and grumble at them because they didn't think to go out any time since lunch and look for chicken eggs.

During the last few years, what has really impressed me has been his parents...knowing that some point this was going to happen, they have done what they can to enjoy every minute of it.  I'm not sure I am that strong.  Just thinking about having to deal with watching your child fade away makes me quiver...I mean, crap...I get pouty on Sunday afternoon's when I think about having to go to work on Monday.  How do you deal with people on an everyday basis when you know your child is not going to make it another 9 months? 

Anyway...as you can tell, I've been dwelling on it a lot, and I finally had to write about it because I couldn't stand the idea of trying to write about stupid politics, or filthy fracking animals that hang a 3-year old kid upside down and beat him to death, without honoring Quincy first.



When I got home from work today, I had to get about 5 things down before I could start on dinner...none of them really tough, but all of them needing to get done before the sun set, and all of them related to the chickens, and draining my sprinklers as we are supposed to get below 27 degrees tonight.  I didn't mean to wait until the last minute, but this last weekend was spoken for with a few concerts, and this cold front moved in in a hurry.

One of the things I had to do was clean the chicken coop out, and while doing so I found two eggs, which I was smart enough to stick in two different pockets so they didn't grind against each other when I bent over. Hooray foresight. 

Unfortunately, 15 minutes later when I headed into the house, I had an 'ewwww' moment, when I discovered that I had forgotten to take my keys out of my right-hand coat pocket...and it appears that egg shells are no match for truck keys. 

Hey...at least I had my cell phone in my pants pocket...that would have been really nasty.


Let that be a lesson.

This weekend, the Mid-Columbia Musical Master Singers had our performance of Brahm's Ein Deutch Requiem.  Prior to Saturday's performance with the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, we had two rehearsals with the Orchestra and their choir...Friday night and Saturday morning at 10am.  With that timing, it just didn't seem to make sense to drive back and forth between Yakima and the Tri-cities(90 miles) just to sleep 7 hours and wake up to drive back, so I got a hotel room in Yakima instead...and learned a major lesson.

Back in 2005, Washington passed a fairly draconian  anti-smoking law...no smoking in bars, or restaurants, or most other public places like museums, or bowling alleys, or...most other places.  If you want to step outside to smoke, you legally need to be 25-feet from a doorway.  After almost 10 years, you just get used to not having to deal with smoke inside...and while I am a small 'l' libertarian...I've kind of gotten used to it.  About the only place you do have to deal with smoke is some of the Native American Casino's.

But...when I went and opened the door on my hotel room Friday night, I was greeted by an old familiar scent...cigarette smoke.  Growing up, my parents were both smokers, so I recognize the odor, and unusually for me, I  went right back down to the front desk, because not 5 minutes earlier, I had signed a piece of paper saying that I acknowledge that if I smoke in a non-smoking room, it was a $150 fine, and they weren't going to pin this one on me. 

Except...you see, the room I was in was a smoking room, because apparently the law passed back in 2005 allowed hotels to maintain 25% of their rooms as SMOKING rooms.  And, when I made my reservations, I didn't specify non-smoking.  With the hotel booked to capacity, and other people specifying that they wanted non-smoking rooms, I was stuck...there was no place to move me. 

I'm not running the hotel down on this one...the room wasn't bad other than the smell...it's more a learning experience...and I have been sharing it with people ever since, because...a lot of folks, like me, assume you flat out can't smoke inside of all public places, and this 25% thing was news to a lot of us. 

I just need to be more careful in the future.  My wife and I probably spend 2-3 nights a year in hotels on date-nights, and I can't once remember specifying wanting a 'non-smoking' room...guess it's just been luck and good karma that have kept us out of smoking rooms in the past(my wife's good karma...that explains why the first time I go off on my own, I get stuck in a smoking room). 

Now I know...and if you watched G.I. Joe as a kid, I don't need to finish that one for you.


We all know that saying...

Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.

Well...this one won't happen again. 

While raiding my daughters candy haul, I came across a Butterfinger Peanut Butter Cup, and I shamelessly stole it.

Big mistake. 

Reese's Peanut Butter Cup's are close to my favorite candy...easily in the Top 5, probably even Top 3(although I advise folks to stay away from the white chocolate cups...they just don't do it for me.)  I had high hopes for this Butterfinger Cup...but...ick.

I don't mind a Butterfingers Bar...it has it's own special indescribable flavor.  But, their attempt at a Peanut Butter Cup...well, to steal from Douglas Adams, it was 'almost, but not entirely unlike' a GOOD Peanut Butter Cup. 

Yeah...I'm not stealing another one of those from my daughters. 


Election Wrap Up.

After choir wrapped up last night, I went out for drinks with a few folks including our director.  While I consider myself a little 'l' libertarian, among this group I was the gun loving, tin-foil hat wearing right-wing wacko.  The funny thing is that NONE of were thrilled with the results rolling in last night. 

While they were all bummed out about how the Democrats lost control of the Senate, I was dealing with the fact that very little I voted for seemed to be passing on statewide basis.  I-594, requiring background checks on all firearms transactions(and other unpleasant things), passed by a wide margin, while I-591(the opposite of 594) failed by an equal margin.  Clint Didier, the more earnest of the two Republican candidates in our Congressional district is currently down by 2200 votes with 40,000 estimated remaining to be counted. 

And truthfully, I really don't care much about the Republican's taking over the Senate...it was not a fair trade for the negative results on the gun control initiatives here in Washington.  I'm not one of those folks who will say there is NO difference between Democrats and Republicans...but they both have their failings...it's just when I prioritize what's important to me, I tend to align more with the Republican's than the Democrats.  My Pro-Gun, anti-Union, Smaller Government side out-weighs my pro-choice, Gay Marriage side. 

So...what is a Republican Controlled Senate/House going to accomplish?  The answer is I think: not much.  I think they will pass a few things that they will force Barry to veto, in the next year, and then everyone will stare at each other as we start saber-rattling for the 2016 election.

I hope the prove me wrong...I would LOVE to see some programs rolled back...something to prove that the Republicans are willing to do something painful about the budget. 

At least there isn't much damage they can do.  Even the doom and gloom liberals at feel that Marriage Equality has passed the tipping point.  While there might be a few hold-out states, things are pretty secure at the federal level.  I suppose there is still some flex on abortion...but, realistically, I think the best hope is two years of stalemate...gridlock is better than things moving in the wrong direction.


The Magical Fruit.

Last night, being a slave driver, I put the kids to work, hulling beans.

Between my wife and I we tried to convince the girls that hulling beans was the 1800's equivalent of MTV...a very exciting time.  Heck, we even kept them working longer by me working in my nightly reading of Harry Potter. 

In the end, we ended up getting about 4.5 pounds of beans, which I loaded into the dehydrator, to make sure they get good and dry before we put them up.  Not really using any heat...just moving air over them for a day or so.

Did learn a few lessons.  Once again, like with my tomatillo's, I think these could have gone a little bit longer...and I also learned I should have stopped watering them a few days ago...it would have promoted the pods starting to dry, making them easier to hull. 

Next year.  It's like 'tomorrow', only bigger.


Now, the wait.

Rolling the clock back for Daylight Savings Time proved no challenge for my bladder, so I was up dark and early this morning. Since I have some tomatillo's to do something with, I figured why dilly-dally, so I got busy on making a batch of Roasted Salsa Verde

Rather than roast my veggies, I decided to throw them out on the grill.

It doesn't make a huge batch, but then again, it wasn't that many tomatillos I was starting with.  I used both pasilla peppers and Anaheim's in addition to the jalapeno for heat.  I kind of wish the finished product had a little more heat, but...with canning, I didn't want to mess too much with the approved ratio's.  Chemistry is important.

Like I said, not a huge batch...just 5 half-pints, but...come January, once the flavors have had a chance to mix and mingle, it will be nice to be able to pull on of these out of the garage. 


Last Harvest

Temperatures the last few nights have been dipping down to below 40-degrees, and realistically, we could get a freeze any day now.  While I have been overall unhappy with my garden this year, three things have done well...cherry tomatoes(how do you not have good luck with them), tomatillos, and in a completely shocking turn of events since September, my Scarlett Emperor Runner Beans.

Rather than wait for the freeze, I put the kids to work today pulling every viable looking bean and tomatillo off the plants.  Figured I'd sort through them in the kitchen afterwards.

My daughter followed directions to the letter...she pulled every tomatillo larger than a marble off the three plants I have.  Once I sorted everything I knew was too small, I was still left with about two and a half pounds of ripe/almost ripe tomatillos. 

My plan for these is canning up a batch of Salsa Verde tomorrow.

As for the runner beans, after all the complaining I did about lack of production, we had pretty good output.  Lesson #1 from runner beans, year one: If you think you want to eat these as 'green beans', you need to be Johnny-on-the-spot...these things go from nice little 4-inch fresh green beans to leathery seed pods in about 36 hours.  Once they get more than 6-inches or so long, your options narrow...you can get a 'frencher' which basically shreds the green beans so that they are edible, or you let them go all the way, and harvest them so you can shuck them and dry the beans.

Which is what we did.

I'd say we got about 15 pounds of pods off the plants...kind of curious to see what that comes out to in terms of dried beans. 

Rest assured, I'll report back when that is done.  Given that you can buy 5 pounds of dried beans for less money than a cup of coffee costs, these better be some tasty, tasty beans.

Sugar.....Need more Sugar....

November 1st...that day of the year when my house as much candy in it as it ever will. 

First...I always buy too much.  My wife brought home 5 bags, but when we opened them and dumped them into a bowl, that just didn't look like much...and when we had a dozen or so kids visit the house before 5:30, I panicked and ran to the store to buy a few more bags.  But, the crowds never really materialized after that, and 4 of the bags I bought remain unopened. I'd bring them into work Monday, but everyone else is going to do that too.  Maybe I'll sort through the garage today and donate that candy with and cans I find that are getting close to their 'best by' dates.

Then, of course, there was the candy my young in's brought in, much of which I will need to sample for their safety.

What we have here are a ninja, and a Corpse Bride.  It was my pleasure to escort them while mom stayed home and gave out the candy.  We walked for just about an hour...there was no real nasty weather to speed us along our way.  Realistically, the older one only has 2-3 more years of this, so...it's something to be savored rather than done begrudgingly. 


Old School Disney

Last week, Borepatch posted what he felt was one of the spookiest pieces of classical music...Danse Macabre by Camille Saint-Saëns. 

It is hard to argue with that choice...but in my mind the winner for spookiest piece of classical music will always be Night on Bald Mountain, and the blame for that lays entirely at the feet of the Disney Corporation, and specifically whomever decided that this video was appropriate for including in Fantasia.

Man oh Man, that stuck with me for a long, long time.  I can't remember the actual ages involved, but until I watched Poltergeist in my early teenage years, this section of Fantasia was the standard by which other nightmare inducing fiction was judged. 


That's kind of far out, but I'll pencil it in.

I know it seems highly illogical and lacking proper focus to get excited about movies that aren't going to come out for 4.5 years, but Marvel's press conference yesterday where they announced their movie plans through May of 2019 got my juices flowing.

1500 days is a lot of time to look forward to something...but hey, now I have a reason to wake up tomorrow.


The Spice of Life

No, not Melange...variety. 

In the past, I have lamented about my efforts to find an acceptable Pumpkin Beer...too often, I bring home a 6-pack, and after drinking the first beer, the other 5 will sit in the fridge for a long while.

Last night, we found a way around that by inviting some friends over for a Pumpkin Beer/Cider tasting last night.  Just said...hey, everyone pick a 6-pack, or a growler, or a couple of 22oz bottles, and come on over.  I picked up a few different sizes of plastic cups so people could either easily sample/drink as much or as little of each one as they wanted.

Amazingly enough, with no real coordination, NO ONE showed up with the same thing.

This was near the end of the evening...wish I had taken the picture earlier when we had more stuff...but I was distracted tasting.

We had a good turnout, and a wide variety of beverages showed up...I should have written them down, but let's see what I can remember:

Blue Moon Harvest Pumpkin Ale, Anderson Valley Fall Hornin' Pumpkin Ale, Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, Southern Tier's PUMKING, Rogue Farms Pumpkin Patch Ale, Rogue Farms Marionberry Braggot, Elysian's The Great Pumpkin, Elysian's Punkuccino, and Elysian's Dark O' the Moon.

Anthem's Hopped Cider, Wandering Aengus Oaked Dry, Wyder's Pear, D's Wicked Baked Apple, D's Wicked Green Apple, and Woodchuck Reserve Pumpkin Cider.

So, obviously, I'm not going to review them all...now...but a few stand out(for the right, and the wrong reasons).

That Marionberry Braggot...very strange. I actually had to look up what a 'braggot' is.  Turns out is very closely related to mead, and the hops is optional.  Rogue Farms put hops in theirs, which might or might not have effected my enjoyment of it.  It just wasn't...I won't it wasn't good...it just wasn't a flavor that I(or anyone else) was looking for. I'm not sure anyone did more than taste test this one.  If we had come close to running out of beer, this would have been the last one standing.

Another beer where hops made a difference is the Anthem Hopped Cider.  The hops gave the Anthem Cider perhaps the best nose of any of the ciders, but it didn't translate to the palate.  The best tasting of the ciders was the D's Wicked Baked Apple, with the Woodchuck Pumpkin and D's Green Apple tying for 2nd place.

On a whole, based off the unscientific 'least beer remaining' method, the most popular beer of the evening was the Elysian Dark O' the Moon, a pumpkin stout.  I know it was my favorite...just a great dark stout, with pumpkin, spice, and creaminess. 

I'm not sure there was a consensus 2nd Place...some folks liked the Punkaccino, but it's a distinctive flavor, mixing coffee and pumpkin.  It's not for everyone.  The Elysian Great Pumpkin, Rogue Pumpkin Patch and the Southern Tier PUMKING all had their fans.  The only one of the pumpkin beers that I think I wouldn't spend money on was the Blue Moon.  I enjoy Blue Moon's normal beer...I was just impressed by the Harvest Pumpkin. 

All in all, it was a good evening...and a great way to try a lot of different things.  Plus, as the host, I find myself with more beer in the house than I am going to be able to drink today...even with the NFL's London Game giving me a head start at 6:30 this morning.


Thanks Washington.

Got my ballot for the general election in the mail the other day, and I've finally got the time to open it up and give it the attention it deserves.

First off...I'll spare you the local county type offices...other than to rant real quick that there are 14 people running unopposed on the ballot this year.  Now...I'm not sure I want to be a District Court Judge(let's ignore the fact I am not really qualified...that doesn't seem to stop other politicians)...but, Benton County Auditor, or Benton County Treasurer?  In 2004(the last year I could find data for) the County Treasurer made $78K a year...I'm willing to bet the salary has gone up since then. 

Oh well.  There is always next year.

On the National/State wide level, there are only 4 issues really worth talking about: 3 initiatives and then the 4th District Congressional Race, which thanks to Washington's Top 2 Primary rules faces two Republican's squaring off in the General Election.

Yup...in Washington, the Top 2 vote getters in the Primaries run in the General Election...even if those top 2 happen to be from the same party, which is what happened here.  For the last 12 years, this district has belonged to Doc Hastings, Republican, and in truth the Democrat's didn't make much of an effort to take this this district back.  I just think it's lame that we now have Republican bashing Republican in the General Election.  Dan Newhouse vs. Clint Didier, which is very much coming down to Establishment RINO vs. Tea Party Extremist...in the media.  I voted for Didier in the Primary, and I will vote for him again in the general.  As I have said before, he is not perfect, but I feel he has more 'upside' than Newhouse...and in the end, I feel that Didier actually believes what he says, while Newhouse has that 'Tell you what you want to hear' feeling to him.

As for the initiatives, the only one I had to really research is I-1351, which would set new mandated class sizes, as well as new levels of support staffing based on numbers of students at those schools.  It will also require 'High Poverty' schools to have smaller class sizes than normally funded schools.  Basically, looking at the numbers, it will increase the number of teachers by 1/3rd, and support staff by almost 50%(the estimated numbers are 15,000 new teachers, and 17,000 more 'support staff'....at a cost ranging from zero additional tax dollars to 4 Billion additional tax dollars, depending on who you believe.

I'm voting no for it.  It's would be easy to say 'Oh, we home-school...why would I want to spend any extra tax dollars on schools'...but that's not it.  I don't like The Mob Mentality passing laws that try to be this specific...it takes up 6 times as much space in the Voter's Booklet as any other ballot measure.  Also...the State Supreme Court has already found the State Legislature in contempt of the State Constitution for not spending enough money on education!!!!  We think passing this initiative will fix anything?  Finally...this initiative, with it's specific numbers of new hires, feels too much like empire building by special interests. 

The we have the two different firearm law related initiatives, which are almost but not quite mirror images of each other, and they are both very easy for me to make up my mind on.

I-591 would prevent confiscation of firearms without due process, or requiring background checks beyond the federal standards. 

I-594 Would require universal background checks for all sales, public, private and gun show related.  Not only would it require a background check, but for pistol sales it will require a letter signed by your county Sherriff or local Police Chief stating that the purchaser "is eligible to possess a pistol [...] and that the application to purchase is approved by the chief of police or sheriff'

Holy Crap...no way THAT could be abused.  The wording also makes it illegal to loan someone a firearm, except when you are at the gun range with them, or hunting with them.  So...loan the guy at the lane next to you your pistol, and you are covered...give your buddy your new P22 so he can being it the range tomorrow and try it without you?  You have broken the law.  Let a guy borrow a shotgun when you are upland bird hunting?  Covered.  Let him bring the gun home to clean it for you, and you have broken the law.

Several local police agencies have said they will not enforce those sections of the initiative...but why pass a law that will not be enforced!  They are also upset by the letter requirement.  Benton County has already said this will require bringing in at least two more staff members...and this is a general agreement between all sheriff's offices. 

So...yeah...I am voting Yes for I-591 and No on I-594. 

If I can swing ANY election result, it would be preventing I-594 from passing...not only do I not believe in background checks for private sales...it's a poorly worded law that would make folks criminals for the wrong reasons, and already has law enforcement personnel saying they won't enforce portions of it.


Hail Hydra!

Well, you've got to hand it to Marvel...when the trailer for Avengers 2 leaked earlier today, they rolled with the punches.  Rather than trying to close the door after the horse is out of the barn, they blamed it on Hydra, one of the more secret than secret organizations which populate their world.

Yes, I have watched it...and yes, I am looking forward to May of 2015....going to see Avengers 2 might be a good way to spend my 40th birthday. 


Mountain House Review

While hunting alone last week, I brought a variety of items up for food.  Most of my needs were met by a loaf of bread and jars of peanut-butter and jelly...but for dinner, I wanted something more.  I brought a few frozen items, and at my wife's recommendation, I brought a few packets of Mountain House freeze dried entree's...you know, to rotate our stock.

I only had two packages during the week I was hunting...one of Noodles and Chicken, and one of Pasta Primavera.  Quite surprisingly, the Pasta Primavera was the better one.

For all intents and purposes, the 'Noodles and Chicken' might as well have been a cup of noodles soup...but, it was a good one.  I also learned that when they tell you to add the hot water and stir well...you need to Stir Well...the bottom 1/3rd of the pouch was much more flavorful than the top.

The Pasta Primavera actually impressed me.  I was somewhat suspicious of it, because it contained no meat...just zucchini, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and green beans, with a cheese sauce.  The cheese sauce was described as 'parmesan'...I felt it was more like a cheddar flavor...but it was still pretty good...and hearty for something not having meat.

Now...so...taste was good for the Pasta Primavera, and acceptable for the Noodles and Chicken.  Both of them were convenient to prepare...just open the package, pull out the desiccant, and add boiling water.  My only reservation was serving size...and calorie count. 

Each entrée pouch is listed as being two servings...but I'm here to tell you that I was able to finish both of them myself without feeling like a glutton.  I think if you are splitting it between two people, you better have a great side dish to go with it...and that is just from a full belly perspective.  Calorie wise, the two I tried were listed as 220 calories per serving.  If you are a hunter, or a backpacker, you are probably going through more than 2000 calories a day, meaning if you are looking forward to you end of day meal being your biggest meal of the day...even if you eat a full pouch, you are probably not eating as many calories as you are burning. 

Which is fine if you are only going 2-3 days at a pop like I was doing...heck coming home 3-4 pounds lighter than I left was nice.  But...if you are doing a week of back-country hiking, you might start feeling a little weak and hungry after a few days.

All in all, while I was satisfied with the Mountain House stuff...it's not an MRE.  It is lighter than an MRE though, while taking up roughly the same cubic footage.  So...if you are worried about weight, the Mountain House might make sense...if you are worried about not going hungry, than the MRE might be the better choice. 


Increasing restraint.

Yesterday we had some friends come over from Western Washington for a visit.  We were lucky enough that they had some business to do that brought them within spitting distance of our house, so our house was a nice place for them to spend the night...and then, in another stroke of luck their actual business was quick enough that we were able to hand out and do some wine tasting.

Our friends recently got their license approved to open a cidery, and they ran all the way to Eastern Washington to get a 275 gallon tank filled with apple juice from one of the fruit processors here.  I guess on one of their first practice batches, they tried starting with apples, and the whole 'apple pressing' thing was just an royal, inefficient pain in the rear...buying the juice is a much more efficient starting point for them.

On the one hand...I am jealous of our friends.  They have a 5 acre farm outside of Poulsbo, Washington.  They have chickens, and goats, and kunekune pigs...and all that sounds very 'homestead'-ish...but in addition to that they also both have full-time jobs...and that makes me not as jealous...because all those animals, and all that land, and now a cider operation, is at least a 3rd full-time job...and I flash to some of those days I get home from my job, and I don't have the motivation to properly take care of my 6 raised beds and 4 chickens.

So, I am honored that they choose to spend some of their free time with us.

And good free time it was...we spent about 4 hours criss-crossing Prosser, Washington, visiting countless wineries...somewhere between 9-12 of them...which is less than 50% of them.  In fact, after stop #1, we decided that the correct thing to do if we hoped to survive the day was to split tastings instead of doing a full tasting at each winery.

It was a wise decision.

And while I am getting better at not buying something at every winery we stop at, we also didn't come home empty handed.

4 new bottles of wine, and then a bottle of some very, very smooooooth vodka, from Blue Flame Spirits, which was a nice change of pace stop half-way through the day.  The great vodka, a nice gin, and then both a wheat whiskey and a rye whiskey, all of which were tasty.  However...Blue Flame was also the place where I put the most horrifying thing we tried all day into my mouth...Grappa.  Holy Moly...that stuff smelled remarkably like paint thinner...and didn't taste much different than it smelled. 

Luckily, Kestrel Vinters tasting room was right next door to act as a pallet cleanser. 


Expectations vs. Reality

Sorry...things have been a little quiet around here this week.  Between wrapping up my hunting season, starting hunting with my daughter, and starting rehearsals with the Mid Columbia Master Singers, things in the real world have been busy, busy, busy.

So far the hunting with my daughter has been...interesting.  And, well...frustrating.  Opening morning of the season, we could have theoretically been done hunting by 7:45.  A few does crossed our path about 80-100 yards away...and we set up the Primos Shooting Stick...and my daughter, well...she decided she wanted to talk instead of taking the shot. 

'Daddy...it looks awfully small in the scope'.  Well...let me dial it up.

'Daddy...I can't shoot, it's moving...and YOU told me not to shoot at a moving deer.'  Yes honey...but there is a difference between a deer that is slooooooowly drifting from bite to bite of grass and a deer that is hopping away.

Eventually, I told her the truth...if you aren't comfortable taking the shot, don't take the shot.  It was early on opening day...there will be other chances.

Famous last words.  While we saw other deer, it would be Sunday afternoon before we got a realistic chance at another shot...and those deer were 150+ yards away...which looks further than that to a muzzleloader hunter and a first time 12-year old...but, the deer gave her a nice, stationary broadside shot...which she missed.

She told me she missed even as she was pulling the trigger...and when questioned how she knew she missed, she told me that she wasn't sure the crosshairs were on the deer when she pulled the trigger.

Face-palm...and then a deep breath.  And then a conversation about how much she really wanted to be hunting.  There were no tears...just me trying to talk to my 12-year old like a grown up.  It kind of turns out that REAL hunting was different than Cabela's Big Game Adventures on the Wii...which I tried to explain a LONG time ago. 

God Bless her though...she stuck with it...and she even enjoyed part of it.  Monday, we went back out, and she got to watch two coyotes playing with each other as the sun came up, and then she got to watch a group of does walk towards us, or at least our general direction...and then she got to learn the frustration of trying to stalk multiple deer.  And she smiled.

On the other hand, there is the painful reality that I might be in over my head with this choir that I have joined.  We have had two rehearsals so far...and I am struggling.  We have a month to the show...and I think I would be struggling just to learn the German pronunciation OR just to learn the music...let alone learn both. 

Luckily, we have been able to get our hands on some nice practice CD's...and I have a 35 minute drive to and from work...oh, and an hour drive to and from the hunting area a few times the next couple of days.

I hope my daughter likes Brahms.


Pit Stop

Well, back from elk hunting for a whole day before heading out tomorrow morning with my daughter for her deer hunting season.

Obviously, if I was successful, there would be victorious pictures of dead animals.  Instead...no pictures right now.  It is a case of close, but no cigar.  This is one of the first times I have burned enough leave to actually hunt the middle of the week(usually, I take a day or two off to hunt long-weekends. 

It's a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, I had the better part of 50,000 acres basically to myself...but, there was no one else to help push animals around.  For the better part of 3 days, I chased a herd of 18-20 elk from ridge to ridge, and was constantly outguessed by them.  With no other hunter pressure, there were just too many options open to them, and I was never able to properly 'head them off at the pass'. The closest I ever got was about 300 yards, which is no easy shot even with a scope, let alone a muzzle-loader. 

It doesn't matter.  I was frustrated enough I actually packed up and came home late Thursday night instead of hunting Friday...I wasn't enjoying myself anymore, and I was sore, and wore out from spending 13 hours a day sitting in the 80+ degree afternoon sun.  All along, I have said the most important hunting season this fall is taking my daughter out...and I didn't want to go into that season in the mood I was in Thursday.

A day at home has helped.  The alarm is set to go off at 4:30, and I am excited.  My daughter appears to be excited, but my wife also said she has expressed some doubts to her about her ability to actually kill something.  Not sure how I will handle that yet if it becomes an issue.  Deep breathes and patience are the word of the day.   



What is the better story:' Last day of the season I saw a buck, but decided the shot was not within my capabilities', or 'Last day of the season I took a shot I was uncertain I could make, and missed'. 

Well...if you read a lot of Field and Stream and Bugle, you know the answer to that one...those magazines are full of ethical hunters, and 'Yeah, it was the last night of the season, and it was the biggest buck I had ever seen, but there was a twig in my way, so I passed up the shot'. 

I guess I am not that guy. 

My moment of truth was not at closing light, but rather the morning of the last day of the season.  For a couple of days, I had been playing hide and seek with a group of deer...there was a doe, a spike, and then a larger buck I hadn't properly ID'd.  A few times I saw them in the distance, and a time or two I jumped them out of their beds and couldn't get a clear shot through the shoulder high sage brush...but the last day of the season, I guessed right.  Or close to right.

I picked a nice spot on one side of a draw, looking across at a few game trails...and right around 8 am, a doe and spike walked out onto the ridgeline, followed about 10 minutes later by the mystery buck, who turned out to be a nice looking 3 X 4.  Nothing trophy worthy, but a nice legal buck. 

Folks...I had that buck gutted, skinned, and dropped off at the butchers in time to make it home to watch the Patriots...in my mind. 

However...after about 15 minutes that seemed like a lifetime, it because apparent that the deer were slowly but surely working their way up the draw away from me, extending the range. 

Poop.  I started trying to butt-slide my way across the slope...but sage and sharp rocks are not your friend when you are trying to be quiet.  At best, I was able to keep pace with them, but I was not gaining distance...and I had a choice to make.

I figure my ideal range at 100-120 yards on a deer sized target.  I figured this buck to be about 150 yards away, and uphill.  Previous times I had seen him, he was 300+ yards away, which is an easy call to make.  But...just 30 yards or so past my comfort level?  Standing broadside? 

I took the shot. 

In a situation like this, the 'worst case' isn't a miss...it's a bad hit.  Luckily...I didn't have to deal with that worst case...I saw the dust kick up a foot below the buck...but I was so far away the deer really didn't spook.  Of course...now my reloads were 25 yards back down hill, where I had left my back pack before I started butt-crawling. 

Well...the deer didn't stick around for that. 

Dang, and double dang.  I did some looking, just in case I had hit the deer, but there was no blood.  By the time I paced things off, it looked like the shot had been closer to 200 yards than 150 yards...but...I still feel pretty lame.  By taking the shot and missing...it's my skill and judgment that were lacking.  If I had passed up the shot....well, then I would be a great sportsman who surely would have made any shots inside my range.

Poop, Poop, Poop. 

Oh well...I'm home for the night for a shower, to wash some clothes, and reload the cooler.  I head back out tomorrow morning to finish out the last 4 days of elk season.  Opening morning of elk season, I saw a herd a 35 head out a distant ridgeline while sitting and glassing.  It's a good 1.5-2 mile hike...but I figure I will load up my backpack with snacks and PLENTY of water and hike in...and sit, and sit, and sit. 

And this time, I'll wait for the right shot.