Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Midnight Run

A friend of mind recently had his first child and was lamenting the sleepless nights, endless diapers, and general travails of being a new parent.  Puh-leeze.  I have little to no sympathy for that.  Give me a call when you have had your fourth child, and are so deep in the parenting tunnel that there is no light, and the chance for it grows slimmer by the day.
But, this friend is also rather funny and is a great writer, and told the story of his drive to the hospital with his laboring wife.  It reminded me of one of my trips to the hospital that I thought was worthy of a brief story.
After our first child, the LW and I thought we were pros, and that the second delivery would be a cinch.  We had already been through it once, knew what to expect, and figured there would be no surprises.  So, when the LW started to feel the first contractions, we kept a level head and did not panic.  It was about 11 at night, because our children do not want to enter the world in the full light of day.  They preferred to sneak in under the cloak of darkness so they can rob me of one more night’s rest if at all possible.  A day-time delivery would have been too easy. 
The LW said, “You know, I think I would like to sit in the bath tub and enjoy the solitude while I can.  I know it is going to be a little crazy, but I don’t want to rush to the hospital.  Let’s hang out for a little while before we head over there.”
Although I should not have been, I was a little surprised.  I didn’t roll my eyes or anything, but I am the kind of person who likes to get to the airport with ample time to get to the plane.  You never know how long the lines are going to be, and who knows, you might want to grab a beer or something before you jump onto the crazy flying machine.  The LW prefers to get there as they are closing the doors causing as much stress as possible.
But, not being one to argue with an extremely pregnant woman, I said that would be fine.  So we talked and laughed and had a grand time.  Or, at least we did until the heavy labor set in. 
All of a sudden the LW decided she had had enough.  It was time to go.  Then the panic set in. 
LW- “Oh no.  We’ve waited too long!  We’re not going to make it!  I am going to have this baby now!”
Me- “First of all, I told you so (the first thing you never say to a woman in labor).  Secondly, it’s going to be fine.  I can get us there in plenty of time.  I’m an expert driver, remember?”
LW- “Be quiet.  Do not argue with me.  Grab our stuff and take me to the hospital.  Now.”
I did.  We took my car, for a multitude of reasons.  For one thing, it is awesome.  1997 Toyota Four-runner.  It had the distinction of taking every one of my babies home from the hospital, had a four wheel drive system that could take it literally anywhere (which it did, and incidentally, is very helpful in the city of Atlanta), and had a roof rack so it looked cool.  The only thing it lacked was a winch, which I am working on. 
We pulled up to the hospital with the brakes smoking and tires squealing.  I had to pull into the emergency parking where they keep the ambulances because the LW was convinced the child was already half way out.  I plopped her in a wheel chair and started running down the hall.
The security guard saw us rapidly approaching and got up to see what he could do.  I threw him my keys, told him not to park it next to a car that was in worse shape than mine (“All those dents happened the last time I was here.  Hehehe.”), and hoped he would find me later.  He did, and was extremely nice about it.  I don’t think that is the first time he has had to do that.
Then, about 20 minutes later, we had a new baby girl.  Remember what I said about getting to the plane as the doors are closing?  It turns out that translates into the rest of her life as well.

A Night with Papa

My father in law is one of the most unusual people I know.  He is probably the most generous person I know, loves his children and his grandchildren, all of whom think he hung the moon.  He is a kid in a candy store, and probably enjoys Disney World more than I do.  He also has absolutely no concept of time, has never sent an email, and has no idea how to use his cell phone.  When we are with him, he is generally the 5th child in the room.

When Strib was young, he would take him out to the barn, planning on returning around 5:30 or 6:00 for dinner.  Our experience with our children is that if they eat later than 6:00 in the evening, they turn into gremlins and are starving.  You better hide the dog and keep the kids from knawing on the furniture.  But, when Strib was with Papa, they would get lost in the woods for hours, return around 10:00 happy and healthy and without a care in the world.  

Now Win is coming along, and is having some similar experiences with his Papa.  Win recently went to Chattanooga to have some special time with his grandparents. Sometimes Win wakes up in the middle of the night and has a hard time returning to sleep.  It doesn't happen around us too often simply because he knows we will just send him back to bed until he falls back to sleep.  Not Papa.

Win went into their bedroom about 2:00 in the morning and told Papa he was hungry.  Apparently the medium sized pizza he ate was not enough to slake his appetite and get him through the night.  Papa, always being one who can squeeze in a little more food, was game.  The two of them went downstairs, opened up the freezer, and pulled out a half gallon of ice cream.  They then proceeded to make milk shakes, because nothing says "going back to bed" like 18 ounces of chocolate milkshake.  

They managed to make enough noise that they woke up Yaya who came downstairs a little befuddled, and not terribly amused.  She then immediately rolled her eyes, which women in her family tend to do in situations where they are not invited or ultimately wanted, and went back to bed.  I am pretty sure she locked her door so she would not woken up again.  Papa a Win then finished their deep conversations over their milkshakes, and Win went back to bed, satisfied, tired, and full.  Papa, on the other hand, found himself wide awake, and not welcome in his own bedroom.  Yaya came downstairs at a normal time of 7 am and found him asleep in his favorite chair with Foxnews on and the remote next to an empty bowl of popcorn.  

White Collar Hunters

I do a hunting trip with some of the dads from my children's school each year.  It is a gas.  Generally four to six guys attend, and it is a different group each year.  It is a great relationship builder, and when I say it is fun, I cannot over emphasize it.

A couple of years ago, I had a new attendee we will call Chad to protect his identity.  He has a little experience with hunting, but he is what I like to refer to as a "White Collar Hunter".  White Collar Hunters look great in the field.  They generally have a nice gun and can often use it well.  They are often fun to spend time with and generally add to the revelry of the weekend.  However, they are lacking in one fundamental area- the cleaning of the prey.  Most White Collar Hunters frequent plantations and farms where there is usually someone on the premises who will clean your game for you.  It is great.  All you do is shoot it, bring it to the cleaner-of-the-game, go have a couple of beers, and then collect your meat.  It is packaged, iced, and ready to go lickity-split.  It must be how the lords do it in the Scottish highlands.  

On this particular hunt, Chad was the big winner.  He killed a couple of ducks, fell out of a canoe, claims to have missed a "10 pointer", and killed a wild boar.  I highlight the 10 pointer because it might as well be a mythical animal, not unlike a unicorn or a goblin.  He blamed it on the torrential rain, which I can vouch for, but I still doubt that deer exists.  However, he did kill a nice pig.

We dragged that nasty thing out of the swamp, threw it in the back of the truck, and dragged it back in to clean it.  I strung it up, handed Chris a nice sharp knife, and said, "Here you go."

He looked at me like a third eyeball suddenly appear on my forehead. 

Chad- "What's that for?"

Me- In my most diplomatic tone, I said "Well, to clean it with.  Now that you have killed something nice and big, you have to clean it.  It wouldn't be right to just shoot it and leave it.  Kind of wasteful"

Chad- "Who?...  Me?...  No, no, no.  You don't understand.  I killed it.  My job is done here.  It is time for me to go and bask in the glory of the hunt."

Me-  "No, no, no, Your job  just started.  Part of the glory of the hunt is getting covered in something really gross.  Bask in that," I said pointing the dead pig.

Chris-  "Um, I don't think you understand.  I did not sign up for this.  I am used to hunting at places like Tom Cousins.  You know.  You kill it.  They clean it.  It is very pleasant."

Me-  "I'm sure it is.  However, this ain't Tom Cousins place.  This is your Cousin Tom's place.  At your Cousin Tom's place, you clean your own game.  You didn't pay enough money for me to do it.  Plus, I don't work for you.  So, get busy."

Chris-  "Seriously?!  I don't know if I can do that!"

And yes, he was serious.  I told him I would get it started and help him out along the way.  Everytime it was time for him to get involved, he would have an automatic gag reflex, turn white as a sheet, and start sweating profusely.  Talk about gross.

I finally did most of the dirty work, leaving the dirtiest and grossest part for him.  I did that mostly out of spite and meanness.  I just wanted to see him throwup.  He handled it about like you would expect- poorly.  He finally went inside, grabbed some ziplock bags, stuffed his hands in them, and started shovelling out the guts of this thing.

Now, before you mock my friend Chad, I have to tell you that pig insides are grosser than just about anything else out there.  I am not entirely sure what they eat, but it can't be pleasant.  Tie that in with all the creepy things crawling around on their skin and the fat dripping off your elbows, it is not something you want to do on a daily basis.

Well, I heard some terrible noises coming from Chad that morning as he braced himself and started pulling out pig muck.  I am confident he threw up in his mouth at least twice.  He had to have choked it down while the rest of us were chortling at his misery. It was a beautiful thing.

Well Groomed Gentleman

I have a friend named Dennis I have known for several years now.  Dennis is a great guy.  Our sons are the same age and he and I have coached a couple of soccer teams together.  The thing about Dennis that is so great, is that he is always well put together.  He dresses nicely, even when he is casual, and always looks like he came out of a Brooks Brothers magazine.

I have a hard time standing next to him, as my wrinkled khakis, rolled up sleeves, and "outdoor aesthetic" looks frumpy and shabby next to the well coiffed and immaculately tailored Dennis.

A couple of years ago I did a hunting trip for our school that Dennis attended.  By the end of the weekend, we all looked dirty.  Nobody had shaved.  Our hunting clothes all smelled like a fire, cigars, and fragrant men, and they looked like we had slept in them.  There were no women around to impress, and no children around that needed a positive male role model, so to say we looked shabby is an understatement. 

Sunday morning we all headed into the swamp for one last hunt.  As we are piling out of the truck donning our camoflage waders and guns, there is simply something that does not fit.  Dennis looks like he just had a shower, was wearing clean clothes, and might have even shaved at some point during the festivities.  He was well coiffed and manicured.  He looked like he had attended a spa weekend with his wife rather than a hunting weekend with a bunch of rednecks.

The rest of us watched him genteely walk into the swamp, because he had genuinly caught our eye.  We all sat in rapt silence, our mouths slightly opened.  We looked at him, looked at each other, and then looked back at him.  Then Trent, another dad on the trip, said, "You know.  Dennis is a well groomed gentleman."

The next time I go hunting with him I am going to dress in tweeds and talk with a British accent- country side, not cockneyed- as I step out of my old school Land Rover.  If I want to play the part of a wealthy land owner, I need to look it, even if I don't have any land. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Words to Live By

My son Win is an unusual child, and easily the most entertaining member of the family.  He comes up with random comments on a regular basis and is constantly into something.  He reminds us of Arlis, the little brother in Old Yeller who is always pulling lizards and snakes out of his pockets and grabbing baby bears by the foot.  Great kid, but causes a commotion.  

Well, he recently started coming up with mottos.  I am not sure how he came up with them, or why they have become such a staple of conversation, but they are.  He recently told the first three to the neighbors who immediately said, "If you can live by those mottos, you are going to be just fine."  He has since been adding to his list, and every time he tells them to someone, they try to imprint another on his brain.  This is what he has thus far.  
1.     Hakuna Matata (from the Lion King)
2.     Let me at ‘em.
3.     The tough get going.  The tough get going.
4.     I’m outta here.
5.     Check me out.
6.     To be the man, you gotta beat the man.
7.     Only trouble trouble when trouble troubles you.
8.     Dead men tell no tales (from Pirates of the Caribean)
9.     Toodles (which is how he ends every conversation with an adult)
Pretty funny kid.

The First Mile is the Hardest

We recently experienced all the magic that Disney has to offer.  We were down there for 6 well planned days and had a blast.  Speaking only for myself, I was ready to go, but it was fun and the kids had a ball.  The LW meticulously planned every minute detail of the trip, and did a great job with it.  So much so that the only line we waited in for more than 10 minutes was the bus line so we could get to the park in the morning.  What she did not account for was the first mile of our road trip.

From Atlanta, it is about a 400 mile journey to Orlando, give or take a little.  We had a pile of Disney movies the kids were going to watch on the way, and the LW had gone to the painstaking effort to make sure that each child had their own "goodie bag" in the car to keep them entertained, happy, and busy the entire trip.  And, I have to admit as a non-planner, that she did a great job.  She really knocked it out of the park, with one exception.

We had no sooner pulled out of the driveway and driven more than a mile before Strib had devoured his full sized Three Musketeers Bar from his goodie bag.  He loves them and would eat them with every meal if given the opportunity.  He then reached for his water to wash it down.  The next thing I knew, he was spitting and spewing like a llama in the backseat and cannot get the window down fast enough.  

I, being the calm one of the family, looked in the backseat, assessed the situation as normal, and continued driving.  The LW, not being the calm one, looked in the backseat, assessed the situation, and told me to pull over.  What she knew, and what I did not know, is that the water bottle Strib was drinking out of was actually detergent cleverly disguised as a water bottle.  It has been placed right next to Strib's goodie bag to tempt him.  He got a big swig of that thing, and started making a scene.

Once I finally stopped, and Strib was out of the car spitting in some unsuspecting person's yard, and we got the car cleaned up to the degree we could, we realized there are some things you just can't plan on.  The LW had been working on this trip since November, and had everything dialed in, even the amount of detergent she was expecting to use.  Turns out we came up a little short on detergent, and there is now a big patch of brown grass on the side of the road.  
Next time, I would be willing to bet she puts the detergent in a different bottle, marks it with a skull and crossbones, and stores it under the bags in the back of the car. Personally, I am just glad he didn't get his hands on the other cleverly disguised bottle that was full of what we like to refer to as "Mommy's Little Helper".  That would have made for a long trip. 


I realize that this post will likely be politically incorrect, but I am going to post it anyway.  My neighbors and I have an open season on squirrels, chipmunks, and similar type varmints due to their destructive nature in regards to our Victory Gardens.  But we are patriots, and will not stand for their shenanigans.  I have also had a problem with larger varmints trying to kill my chickens in the past.  Our gardens are producing like crazy, as are my chickens, and we want to keep it that way.  Gentlemen Farmers have been dealing with varmints since the dawn of cultivation, and this gentlemen farmer is not immune to it.  So, my son has been "hired" to kill all varmints that could potentially harm our gardens or chickens.  Yesterday he killed two squirrels with a high powered, and scoped, pellet gun.  It is awesome.  1220 feet per second muzzle velocity.  When zeroed in at 30 yards and in the proper hands, it can pick off squirrels across the street.  But I digress.

I came home to find two squirrels hanging on the fence as a sort of scarecrow, warning the varmints not to come around.  But that does not stop raccoons, opossums or coyotes.  It probably attracts them.  Most recently, something has been trying to dig into the coop and get a free meal.  That is something this gentleman farmer simply will not tolerate.  So, using farmer logic, we baited a trap in the backyard next to the coop with one of the dead squirrels.  Sure enough, we got up this morning to find it held one live and really mad raccoon, and a squirrel tail.  But, before it made its way into the trap, it managed to reach in and kill one of our chickens.  She was sick and not doing well as it was, so it was not a hard kill.  And it was not terribly gruesome.  There were a few feathers laying around, but it had not gotten around to doing anything dastardly yet.  I think it caught a wiff of the dead squirrel, left the chicken alone, and let curiosity get the better of itself.

But, this is where it gets hard.  Once you have a trapped raccoon, what are you supposed to do with it?  You can't let it go.  It is ticked and might come after you.  And, it might have rabies or some evil disease so you can't take any chances.  I can’t throw the trap in the car and take it for a drive.  I don’t want to make it someone else’s problem.  And, even if I did do that, I have to deal with releasing a mad raccoon.  No thanks.  So, I will spare you the details, but needless to say, this particular raccoon will no longer be digging into my chicken coop looking for free food.