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Ann's Corner

VOLUME 91-----------JANUARY 2010



January 1, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Christmas has come and gone, New Year's Eve has passed into the first day of a new year and a new decade, and all is well with the Parman Clan in Washington State!

Ann and Jennifer decided that we should have a 'real' Christmas tree this year instead of the artificial, already lighted one we've used for the past several years.  This resulted in a short excursion to our woods for that perfect tree.  Jennifer, Ann, and I set out with saw in hand, in the rain, and found that perfect tree about 100 yards south of the house.  (I'll share this secret with you.  "There ain't no 'perfect tree' on our little ol' 20 acres)

After improvising a base stand from a five gallon plastic bucket and 50 pounds of sand, we erected the tree in the old shop building.  I don't have a picture, but it was a pretty sad lookin' tree!  We were out of time that day, so I ventured forth a couple of days later, and broadened our search.  I finally found one that, while far from perfect, was considerably better than our first effort.

Ann thought my old Lionel electric train would be a nice decorative touch beneath the tree, so it was brought in from the shop, cleaned up, and assembled.  We found enough track to circle the tree, and the old train became part of the scene.  The train hasn't been operational for many years, but the pieces are mostly all there.

The Lionel was my first Christmas gift, 67 years ago.  I was three months and 5 days old!  I doubt the train made much of an impression on me that year, but I'm told my Dad and his friends really enjoyed playing with it!  It did run many miles after I got old enough to play with it though.  Finally those miles wore it plumb out, but we've moved it with our household goods from Missouri, to Nebraska, to Colorado, and finally to Washington in spite of the fact it don't run!


Sixty-seven year old Lionel electric train

As usual, our Christmas gift exchange with Rick's family occurred here on Christmas Eve.  Ann's famous chicken bisque soup was the main course for dinner BEFORE opening gifts.  Jennifer's proposal for gift opening before supper is an annual dispute that she has always lost.  This year I decided to join Jennifer's side in the debate to help even the odds.  She still lost!

The Chicken Bisque supper is a tradition of some ten or more year's standing.  We have visited a restaurant called Curley's Broiler in Missoula, Montana many times over the years to dine on their prime rib.  The prime rib is always superlative, but their real claim to fame is the chicken bisque soup served before the dinner entree'.

And what service it is!  Formally dressed waiters, hands clad in white gloves, deliver that first course in a tall crockery tureen and solemnly ladle out the first serving for everyone at the table.  I emphasize first, because you will definitely want more.

Curley's has garnered national attention regarding their chicken bisque.  It has been discussed in national magazines, with as much emphasis on the fact that the recipe is SECRET, as on the fact that it is good.  Ask a staff member for the recipe, and you get no more than a blank stare or quiet smile!

If you know Ann, who is an excellent cook by the way, you might conclude that she would take this as a challenge, and try to come up with a chicken bisque that rivals the big secret.  You'd be right too!

Every visit to Curley's found her analyzing the bits and pieces of the ingredients in her bowl, both visually and by taste.  She also read every bisque recipe she could lay hands on.  To make a long story longer, after three or four tries at home, mixing and matching those many recipes, and adding her personal touches, Ann now puts a chicken bisque on the table that rivals the best I've eaten at Curley's!  Daughter-in-law Christi rates it as "Better than Curley's!"

While we are enjoying our Christmas Eve bisque, the discussion always turns to the first time Jennifer was exposed to a Curley's dining experience.  She was just over two years old and in the midst of that learning experience called 'feeding oneself.'

Jennifer found the chicken bisque much to her liking.  No one remembers for sure how many small servings were ladled into her bowl, but we all remember two other things about the experience.  One was, that her Dad likened her face to a "glazed donut" from the bisque residue.  The other was the most hateful look ever observed on the face of a two year old, toward the waiter who picked up the soup tureen in preparation for serving the next course!

Will we ever see the chicken bisque recipe here in Ann's Corner or will she continue the Curley's tradition of never sharing it?  Could it be one of those, "If I told you, I'd have to kill you" kind of secrets?

When the gift exchange finally took place, there were too many prizes to include them all here, so I'll just hit some of the highlights.

Ann and I decided that our major gifts to each other would come after Christmas.  We plan a trip to Missoula in the next few weeks to purchase new home computers.  Beyond that, Ann and Christi got each other electric fondue pots, Rick received a Craftsman reciprocal saw and I got a portable fold-up gas grill for our camping trips.

Jennifer got a new set of golf clubs from Grandma and I.  Jennifer's golf teacher told her last fall that she had outgrown her youth set and needed full size lady's clubs.  (If she starts beating me regularly, I'm gonna' bust 'em)  Here are some pictures of the festivities.


L to R:  No Christmas gifts here?, Festive table, The stockings were hung, Jennifer admiring her new driver while modeling Grandma's new Christmas underwear.

As I write this, I'm waiting for the prime rib in the roaster oven in the garage to get done.  A New Year's Day tradition for the Washington Parmans;  Last spring's morel mushrooms were fried and placed in the freezer to await being eaten for appetizers followed by prime rib and all the fixin's.  Of course, the obligatory black-eyed peas are on the menu to bring good luck throughout the coming year.

January 2, 2010

As you can see, I didn't get this completed yesterday, so will try and finish today.

I just came in from scraping ice off the driveway with the tractor blade.  We barely had enough snow here in the hills to call it a white Christmas, while down in the valley, the ground was bare.  Unfortunately the snow on the driveway, after being driven on, had turned to ice, so it needed some attention.

Our lack of snow is in sharp contrast to a year ago.  I heard Bill, the weather man, say last night that we officially had over 60 inches of snow by this time last year.  I know that I was blowing and plowing snow nearly every day to keep the driveway cleared.

I got an email from friend and reloading partner, Courtney Johnson, with a brief tale about his Montana hunting experiences this past season.  Courtney had drawn a coveted combination license for mule deer and elk in an area east of Missoula.  After spending over two weeks in hunting camp, here's the first sentence of his email:

"Should have known better than to leave elk hunting on Friday the 13th."

If you read last month's newsletter, you know I had a different feeling about Friday the 13th after killing a nice buck that day.

Court goes on to say, "Looked good at the start, they had one in camp when I got there and on Friday afternoon I elected to set up camp rather than hunt. They rolled back in about 6pm and informed me I would be packing out another elk for the remainder of the evening. Hot Dam we're in the elk, I thought."

"The next morning yielded another inch of fresh snow, perfect for tracking,..........the pack of wolves that rolled in with me the night before. Every set of Elk track(s) had a corresponding wolf track on it, for 16 #@$%ing days. The first morning out I found three dead cows killed by wolves."

Court went on to explain that the tracks showed that a single wolf had made each kill.  In each case the wolf had eaten only the elk's nose, rectum, and udder.  He reported that it looked like the udders had been removed by a scalpel!

He asks, "What's up with that Mr. Biologist??"

And, "Jim, these things were just sport killing."

Court wraps up the hunting report with this, "I didn't see a live elk the whole trip, nor a mule deer worth shooting.  Similar to your observations, 2 or 3 forkin' horn bucks for every doe??"

Sounds like more fodder for the debate about whether or not we should have re-introduced wolves to the Rocky Mountain ecosystem and how they should be managed.

I guess the good news for we pro-hunting types, is that both Idaho and Montana now have wolf hunting seasons and are managing them as a big game species.  Montana's 2009 season is over as they met their harvest quota of 75 wolves on November 16th.  Idaho has extended their season to March 31, 2010 in those areas where the regional quotas have not been filled.  Overall, as of today, 139 wolves have been killed in Idaho, leaving 81 more allowed before reaching their quota of 220.  Maybe if the Federal Judges stay out of the picture, the states can make this work!

Now a brief item about our Hunter Education programs.  You can find more detailed information on the Hunter Education page, but I'll report here that our 2010 classes are beginning to attract enrollees via the state's new online registration procedure.  The class beginning February 23rd is full, and we have people in the March and May classes as well.  We still have a lot of work to do with getting supplies ordered and doing some briefings for our volunteers.

I just finished reading a novel by Vince Flynn.  Flynn has written a dozen or so works of fiction around the subjects of Spies, Politics, Politicians, Clandestine Government Operations, Terrorists, Traitors; well, you get the picture.  Thing is, some of Flynn's fiction, finds resonance in my mind, when I apply it to my perception of some of the things going on in our real world.

In Chapter 6 of this latest book, "PURSUIT OF HONOR," Flynn relates the interrogating shrink's report after interviewing a CIA traitor.  The shrink's diagnosis is "classic narcissistic personality disorder."  The book goes on to describe what that may mean.  I was immediately struck by how these characteristics describe my perception of many of our elected officials and their behavior.  Hell, I'll bet we all know some people who exhibit some of these qualities.  (You knew I'd have to start the year with a session on my soapbox, didn't you?)

I was so intrigued I initiated a session with 'Mr. Google' where I compared Flynn's fictional account with various websites' versions of symptoms.  Here are just a few of the things I found that describe this phenomenon.  (Just enter 'narcissistic personality disorder' in some search engines and see what you come up with.)

bulletBelieving that you're better than others
bulletFantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
bulletExaggerating your achievements or talents
bulletExpecting constant praise and admiration
bulletBelieving that you're special and acting accordingly
bulletFailing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
bulletExpecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
bulletTaking advantage of others
bulletExpressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
bulletBeing jealous of others
bulletBelieving that others are jealous of you
bulletTrouble keeping healthy relationships
bulletSetting unrealistic goals
bulletBeing easily hurt and rejected
bulletHaving a fragile self-esteem
bulletAppearing as tough-minded or unemotional

I told you you know people like this!  Watch the news.  Read the newspapers.  Every day we see the results of the acts of prominent, influential people who exhibit one or more of these characteristics.  We don't even need to look too closely, to see some of this behavior in friends, neighbors, or co-workers, do we?

Another observation that Vince's fictional shrink makes, is that these people often become lawyers.  This makes them feel smarter and enables them to use their knowledge of the law to bully others who don't see them as important as they think they are.

My term for these people is 'elitist.'  They simply believe that their station in life, their job, or their brilliance entitles them to considerations well above and beyond the rest of us 'common folk.'

Now, quickly!  Think of one group of people predominately made up of elitist lawyers?  The list could be long, but staying within the rule of 'one,' I chose the United States House of Representatives!  (Yes, you might pick the Senate, County Commissioners, City Council, State Legislature, or an endless list of others, but this is my forum so we're gonna' talk about the U. S. House!)

I believe we have gradually moved far, far away from the intentions of our founding fathers when they drafted our Constitution.  I think they intended for our representatives in the House to be similar to the majority of the people they represent!  Instead, we have elitist lawyers who spend the bulk of their time exercising self serving perquisites and campaigning for re-election!

Do I have the cure for this malady?  You bet I do!

To provide an important check and balance for the rest of our elected or appointed officials in Federal Government, we should choose members of the House of Representatives by lottery, rather than by vote!

In each congressional district, those who are constitutionally and otherwise legally eligible, and are willing to serve, would simply throw their name in the hat and the name drawn from that pool would be in Congress for two years.  This eliminates the fund raising, the campaigning, and any need to spend our hard earned tax dollars to entice constituents to re-elect them.  Perhaps under those conditions they would make decisions and pass laws (written in plain English rather than legalese) that are really in the best interests of taxpayers and the country, rather than perpetuation of their status in life!

OK, I'm done!

This month's hillbilly wisdom comes from neighbor Paul, who said he heard it on the radio.  No attribution was given.

"Adversity is like walking in the wind.  You just have to lean into it!"

Well, It's time to shut down here, So . . . .

'Til next time, Keep 'em shootin' straight, shoot 'em often, and above all, BE SAFE!!!!!

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