VOLUME 80-----------FEBRUARY 2009
SHOOTIN', HUNTIN', AND RELOADIN'
WITH THE OL' MISSOURI HILLBILLY
February 1, 2009
Well, I hope y'all are willin' to follow along with several subjects, 'cause this month I plan to jump around like a "p**s ant in a hot skillet" as we hillbillies say.
Ann had her latest oncology checkup on January 13th. She has now passed the 5 year survivor date and was taken off her long term follow-up medication. While it's only been a couple of weeks, she reports that some of the adverse side effects of the Femara are already beginning to go away!
We are so thankful for the medical professionals and the first class care they recommended and provided through these trying times. Our friends' and relatives' thoughts, wishes, and prayers are much appreciated too. (We're extremely fortunate that we've had first class health insurance as well.)
While we haven't had appreciable new snow over the past month, we still have plenty left from December! A few days of unseasonably warm weather melted a lot of it, but we still have 2 or 3 feet in the yard. Some of the piles around the edge of the driveway remain so tall I can barely see over them!
Last month we mentioned some items that I will try and follow up on.
I reported that Rick finished his BA degree program at Eastern Washington University. The actual diploma was recently delivered via U. S Postal Service. He plans to participate in the once yearly graduation ceremonies to be held on campus later this spring. He came by the ranch to pick up Jennifer the day the diploma arrived, so we had an opportunity to take a photo or two.
Rick and his Diploma
February 4th marks our 47th wedding anniversary, and my Mother's 86th birthday. We won't see Mom until later this spring, but a card and flowers are on the way to her Hatfield, MO home.
Little Heifer and I reserved a suite for last night at a nearby Best Western and booked their "Romance Package" for our anniversary celebration. This has become an annual ritual with Rick, Christi, and Jennifer joining us in the afternoon for snacks and drinks, and then Ann and I have dinner at a nice restaurant.
When we discussed the package with hotel manager, Mike Barnes, he said it included two massages and a bottle of champagne. We told him that we would be willing to go for our first ever massages, but being hillbilly folk, we were more with the "Jim Beam and a six pack" crowd rather than the champagne. Here's what we found when we checked in:
We Never Figured Out What The Feathers Were For?
After the rest of the family arrived, we decided to have one of the desk clerks take our picture in front of the lobby fireplace. Here's the especially good lookin' crew:
Jim, Ann, Christi, Jennifer, and Rick
Dinner at Hay Jays Bistro, next door to the hotel, was first class with crab cake appetizers, New York Steak glazed with horseradish sauce for Ann, and parmesan crusted Halibut for me.
Here's one more "self portrait" in the room after dinner:
Our annual Christmas gift exchange has included jigsaw puzzles for Christi and I for the past several years. The puzzles chosen for the exchange seem to have become progressively more difficult as the years go by. This year Christi chose one for me featuring a Bev Doolittle print called "Many Eagles."
The puzzle was laid out on the table in the living room a few days after Christmas and was worked on sporadically for two or three weeks. Finally, the ultimatum was spelled out, "Either get that thing finished or put it away!" she ordered. Well, it took me several hours over two days and evenings, but I 'got 'er done!' This was a tough one! I hope Christi has this much fun with the picture of hundreds of jelly beans we got her!
Many Eagles Puzzle
Another topic last month was the annual enrollment weekend for our Sportsman's Warehouse Hunter Education classes. Things went off without a hitch, but we did notice that the classes didn't fill up quite as fast as in previous years. I don't know if this is a reflection of the economic times, or exactly what the reasons might be. At any rate, the first 3 classes were filled by the end of the weekend, and the customer service people at the store have pretty much filled the rest at last check.
Since Rick is now finished with his night school, he has begun the process of becoming a certified Hunter Education Instructor. He has been helping with our Saturday live fire sessions for a couple of years, but now wants to become a full fledged member of our teaching team. We'll be glad to have him.
2009 begins a new procedure for becoming an instructor. The background check, written tests, and student teaching requirements are basically the same. What was called a 'Pre Service Training' session, conducted by Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel and other volunteers has been eliminated.
The PST is being replaced by a 'mentoring' process, where the prospective instructor is mentored through a couple of classes by a local Chief Instructor who has volunteered for such duty. Then, a group of these newly mentored instructors participate in conducting a weekend class for students in an 'under served' area of the state under the supervision of a Department Hunter Education coordinator. When the new instructor clears this hurdle, the process is complete.
Rick's mentor is Chief Instructor, Larry Stansbury, who conducts classes at the Spokane Gun Club. They've had their initial orientation meeting and Rick will participate in Larry's class the week of February 9th. Larry will then observe and critique Rick's teaching of a subject at our March Sportsman's Warehouse class. At that point, he should be ready for the final step.
We finally began our Christmas computer shopping when we weren't required to shovel snow every day. We found Ann a small laptop that would fit in her little roll-top desk in her kitchen corner office; a Sony with a 12 inch screen. This was the smallest one we could find that still has a standard size keyboard. It has all the bells and whistles, including a 250 gig hard drive and 3 gigabytes of RAM. Microsoft Office 2007 has now been installed.
We are having some learning curve issues with the Vista operating system, and the new Office software, but we're getting there. I even managed to get it set up on our wireless network, so she has full internet access, can access files on the desktop computer downstairs, and share the printer. Jennifer really likes the new computer because she can play games on it and still be in the kitchen with Grandma!
Little Heifer's Computer
Ann and I experienced our first ever Dungeness Crab feed at the Elk's Lodge last month. We have eaten our share of crab legs, both snow crab and king crab, but had not ventured into the whole crab experience. The major difference we found was relative difficulty of getting to the 'good stuff.' After the pulling apart, digging, prodding and slurping, I think everyone in the dining room needed a bath! We had a good time, but think we'll stick to snows and kings in the future.
January is the month for the annual RV show at the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds. We attended on opening Thursday and found a good crowd of folks about our age. Ann remarked as we went in the door, "Notice all the white hair in this group?"
I've been seeing reports that most outdoor related trade shows in the past few months have seen smaller crowds and fewer exhibitors. This show seemed to be less crowded than in previous years but all the buildings were full of RVs. We aren't in the market for a new unit, but like to go see the new stuff, and the expensive stuff we can't afford.
I have an experience coming up this month that promises to be somewhat unpleasant. My upper teeth must come out and be replaced by 'falsies.' The current recommended method is to yank the old teeth and put the new ones in immediately! That just can't feel very good! I'll let you know for sure next month.
If y'all have read these diatribes very often, you've probably noted occasions when I have climbed upon my soapbox to pontificate on a subject I feel strongly about. Well, this soapbox thing may be a genetic phenomenon! I got an email from my brother Ed the other day that might lead one to believe that it runs in the family.
With Ed's permission, I'll share some of it with you. In his words:
You know, I haven't been one to write very
much in the past. But, people in Washington D.C. just continue to do the dumbest
damn things and it pi**es me off. This is my reaction to Rep Rush and his H.R.
45 gun control action:
Now it's time to turn to some local wildlife news.
We believe that the buck deer have dropped their antlers a bit earlier this year than in the past. We began seeing bucks with 'naked' heads in late December and early January. We have seen antlered bucks as late as April 1st in previous years. I'm not a biologist, so this is only speculation: Would struggling through the extremely deep snow have an effect on that?
I do know we are seeing more bucks hanging around the ranch than we normally do after rutting season is over. I'm thinking that the deep snow is keeping them out of the high country and they can find more to eat around here. We have very rarely found shed antlers on our place, but maybe this year will be different.
You might ask how we tell which ones are bucks if they have no antlers. When you see as many deer as we do, day after day and year after year, it ain't hard to tell by their body shape and they way they move. If there's any doubt, a quick glance with Ann's 10 power Swarovski binoculars will show the pedicles on their heads even if the antlers are gone. If all else fails, we yell out the door, "Big sale at the Mall," and the does all head for Spokane!
After several public meetings around the state, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is in the final stages of seeking public comment and setting the 2009 big game seasons. February 20th is the deadline for public input.
A number of changes are expected. We are told that the mortality of deer and elk was higher than normal last winter because of the heavy January snowfall. This winter's near record snow is also expected to cause higher than usual losses, especially if we get more big storms between now and spring. (As a matter of note, I'm sure we have had some winter losses here, but we still see a lot of deer.)
We're told we can expect steep cutbacks in antlerless deer permits as well as a much shorter season for both youth and senior hunters, who are allowed to take either sex.
On the plus side, there may be a few special rifle permits for bull elk during the peak of the rut, and some Thanksgiving weekend whitetail buck permits, but the odds of drawing those tags will be astronomical.
The Department does apparently realize that the turkey population is getting out of control, as the seasons and bag limits are expected to be liberalized greatly.
This month's hillbilly wisdom is a quote from Will Rogers. In light of what's going on in Washington as this is written, I thought it quite appropriate:
"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."
Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .
'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!