Monday, December 13, 2010


It's Sunday and the spouse is throwing a "hot pants" party. Mr. Wheat called to save me, offering to let the boys ride one of the horses he tends on a local ranch. "Do they have rubber boots?" he asked. "Sure do, matter-of-fact, Sage has his on right now!"
We met Ron at the Ranch about 20 minutes later. I picked up my Pops on the way and grabbed him some boots too. John, the Rancher, wanted to give vaccinations to some of his calves as they were getting runny noses. The boys and I tried to stay out of the way and let the real cowboys round up the cattle.
When the horses were all saddled up, Sage got to go first and the grin on his face was pure joy, the most genuine smile I have ever seen him conjure.
Tanner was next and the resulting grin was identical. He got a little more excitement though as a passing car slightly spooked the horse and Tanner got to go for a brief trot. Ride em' cowboy! You can tell Ron has been around horses his entire life. The horses obviously respect him and he moves about them fluidly, without a wasted movement, brushing, saddling, strapping and leading.

After the boys got their fill-Ron showed his experience dealing with competing brothers and let them ride tandem-it was time for yours truly to saddle up!

I hadn't ridden a horse since before Tanner was born but I was much more excited than nervous. After being reminded that you always mount a horse on its left side, and having Ryan help me into the stirrup, we circled the corral and headed for the hills of Southampton. After crossing a slippery bridge, Ron led me up the hill and informed me, "They like to run up hill." About half way up, my saddle started tilting to the right. Being the novice, I tried to wrench it back into place with my hands on the pommel and the next thing I know, I was eating dirt.
The horse obediently stood there as I dusted the mud off my face and Ron re-settled the saddle. I thought of the old saying about "getting back on your horse" as I swung my leg back over the saddle on the slippery, muddy slope. We headed back up the hill and I used my legs as instructed to stay centered and balanced.
The view from a horse in the hills evokes images of the wild-west to be sure, but also this feeling of royalty. Like sitting on top of the world with a beautiful animal at your beckon call. I could instantly see how Ron commits himself to these horses everyday. They give back everything they get and then some. After reaching the top of the saddle, we head back downhill. This time I really put the brakes on and we pick our way down the trail, back to the reality of town and family commitments, leaving the majestic hill top and it's misty diversions at our backs.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer

Montana got sprayed by a skunk last week. We found a recipe to rid her of the odor and it worked on about 95% of the smell. Of course even 5% of a skunk's nasty devil juice is enough to keep her outside for the week so that's where she sits, outside. You've never seen a more attentive, plaintive looking hound in your life. She's got more patience than I do. I admit it, I'm bored.
My latest diversion is creating a mountain bike track in the green belt behind the house. Who cuts dead dusty grass and then shovels rocks for fun in the summer heat? I need a quarry. The DMV still hasnt' sent me the tags for my boat. I'm the dumbass who kicks himself everyday for mailing it into the massive Sacramento bureaucracy rather than braving the lines at a DMV but then again, standing in line at the DMV is about as fun as a rectal exam but at least I would have my tags by now and I could fight with my wife about something substantial like going Sturgeon fishing or taking the boat to a lake. There's no Salmon to chase nor Rockfish nor Abalone. But I know what it is: I've got my Deer Tags and I want to go scouting.
Sure my kids are a blast but I just get tired of "pretending" to be on Ax Men or Monster Quest. I mean, Tanner's all set to go-Camo overalls, boots, ammo bag, stick gun, etc. but he won't stop talking for five seconds! And his plans change by the minute. First he wants to be a scuba diver so I make him a tank out of a crystal geyser bottle and a garden hose. But wouldn't you know it, now he needs a trail cam to try and get photos of a chupacabra so he drags out the portable DVD player. Now that doesn't belong outside so I have to grab the real one for him and hope he doesn't dunk it in the pool. I used to think I would be one of those Dads who could say no to everything, and I still am to some extent, but I've also learned that just making him a damn scuba tank from a garden hose, baseball belt and plastic water jug is easier than convincing him that he doesn't need scuba gear for a 10" deep, blow-up backyard pool because you can't. The line between reality and pretend is thin indeed. I do enjoy going there for awhile but sometimes I just want to live in the real world without being attacked or on fire or playing super hero:)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Eagle Lake 2010

If it be said that I only write of hunting and fishing, let it be said, for these are the fuel for my existence.
Another Memorial Day has passed and thus another storied Eagle Lake expedition. It's no longer a trip as the family has grown as have the families of all those who attend. No longer can two or three dudes pack into a truck and make the trip like a pack of lone wolves on an extended hunt. Nowadays the packing is a two week fiasco. "Hon, do we need to bring the "Pack N Play" for the little one?" "Of course". Along with bags of toys, changes of clothes and night time stories. Actually the kids ended up on the short end this year. I brought: three fishing poles, my dog, my rifle and enough ammo to defend Waco for a few days, my guitar and song book and my fishing backpack and fillet board. The kids didn't get: the quad, the bike and trike nor their mini "Lightning McQueen" fishing poles (I don't know what they did with them and they scare me when they start flailing a hookless weight around each other). All in all we actually packed suprising light what without having to camp. The cabin we rented was recently remodeled and besides having to have "Lynyrd Skynyrd" turn our hot water on after I found some wires loose in the hot water heater closet, it offered most of the comforts of home. Plus it had a nice mule deer buck mounted over the living room, various fishing books and an old fly rod on the wall for the perfect ambiance. Oh Yeah, I never touched my guitar nor fired a shot from my rifle-next time I'll have to throw Tanner's bike on top of the pile.The Rivalry is still alive and well however. Lately it's been Heyman & Pattyo vs. Nelson and the Rings on this trip and thus it was this time around. Saturday morning began dubiously. Heyman needed a jump so he drove me back to my truck where I could grab my booster box. Once he was charged, he sped off and left us outside the no wake zone with a clogged impeller. Peanuts boat has been plagued with problems and he had hoped a new engine rebuild would solve his worries once and for all. Unfortunately, we couldn't get on plane with Archie calling it correctly from the first failed-full-throttle, "It sounds like something is clogging the impeller" he stated matter of factly. Rather than miss the dawn bite making the repairs, we limped to the tules and wet our worms. Final score for the morning, Heyman 5, Nelson/Ring 3. Even though we came up short, Heyman didn't have a limit and the foreign object was successfully removed from the impeller.
Sunday morning we got the jump on Heyman and the rest of the Tule Belle Duck Club. We knew we were early when Shrimp Island "The Secret Spot" didn't light up like times square and we got a front row seat to the hottest trout fishing on the West Coast. Peanut had two in the box before we could see without a flashlight. As he was re-rigging, I watched his bobber dunk and took my turn on his second rod. If you snooze you lose and it was someone else's turn anyways:)
We had a limit by 6:45 am. We took a victory lap past the Heyman and basked in the full moon of a Pattyo "Bare Ass". Oh sweet victory is ours!
Monday morning was more of the same and we were back at the Cabin by 7 cleaning our fish and packing up. The old saying really is true: time flies when you're having fun. And so it was that we were headed home, smelling of trout and already making plans for next year.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Shark In the Dark

Young Tanner McDougal's was a happy young boy
Until his Daddy told him about the shark in the dark
The shark in the dark flies by the moon on the bay
thats what his daddy told him yesterday
Oooh the shark in the dark, is he mean asked the boy?
Will he chase me and bite me and steal all my toys?
Is he big? Is he mean? Asked young Tanner McDougal
That's when the shark attacked our poodle.
Our poor poodle monties never hurt a fly
Until the shark in the dark decided to come by
He came in the night as sharks tend to do
and when he ate monties we didn't know what to do
So Tanner took out his new home made sword
and then turned to his ship and climbed aboard
He manned the wheel and loaded the harpoon
Knowing the shark in the dark was coming soon
But when he came he didn't smirk or grin
The poor shark didn't even know how to swim
And monties was chasing him, biting his tail
And the shark in the dark let out a mournful wail
Oh please don't get me with your big harpoon
I only come out every seventh full moon
I'm the shark in the dark and I wouldn't hurt a fly
That's when Tanner's momma came by
She gasped at the scene and cried out, "What a Mess!"
This shark in the dark is surely a nasty little pest,
He hides in your closet and only comes out at night
Why I don't think that shark even knows how to bite
But Tanner was focused on the mission at hand
He pulled the poor shark from the water and up on to land
He seized the shark by it's rough skinned tale
and told that shark to leave the island, set sail
For the shark in the dark scares me no more and
he paddled the sharks bottom with an oar!
And he cleaned up the mess and he picked up the debris
Hurling all the sharks victims safely back to sea.
And victorious he settled back into his bed
Knowing that shark would soon be dead
For no sea creature can survive the dreadful mcdoogal stare
and besides no creature would ever dare
cross the young sea hunter aboard his trusty skiff
As his father waves goodbye from the top of the cliff
Now that the seaman has conquered his foes
He heads for adventure wherever the wind blows.