Friday, October 19, 2007

In Florida

There is nothing I like more than to get a phone call from my father telling me my mother has just gone in for triple bypass surgery. The good news is they caught it early. She was at the doctor and they didn't like some of the test results so told her to drive to the hospital to check herself in for more tests. The doctors at the hospital really didn't like what they saw and cleared out an operating suite immediately.

So, here I am. Even though there was nothing I could do I left work, grabbed leftover luggage from last week at home, and jumped on the road. Nine hours later I'm at their house. She came through the surgery fine, but is too zonked out for me to go see her. I'll go in first thing in the morning tomorrow. She'll be in the hospital for at least five more days, so it's not like I'm needed to help out around the house.

That's not the point though. Sometimes you just do the irrational thing and jump in the car. I suppose I could draw some allegory here, but I'm not up to it right now.

It seems weirdly normal to be sitting at the kitchen table and tapping away on my laptop while my father is in his office doing the same. My family, or rather myself, are not very big on communication (leave me alone grammar police) so he and I have not spoken very much today. A couple terse phone calls and then a brief conversation as I ate some food brought over by a neighbor.

I guess it is because it is so unexpected. My father, sister, and I all remarked that we would never have picked my mother out for heart problems. She never smoked, drank very little very occasionally (rum cake would get her tipsy), and was on a diet an exercise regime and had lost 30 lbs in the past year. Truth be told I would not be terribly surprised if my father or uncle were in the hospital but that is not the case.

All I know is that I hate October. Last year at this time Kuro and I were in Sam's Town in Tunica when I got the call that my grandmother was dying (for real this time). When we got back to the ANTA I did a quick turn and did the drive down. It was the same sort of situation where I get down here and it's time to behave like everything is normal until it's time to drive to the hospital.

The difference is this time it's my mother. She isn't here to press food on me and pressure me about work and my love life. It's not another in the long series of grandma's many brushes with death. Ninety-six is a grand old age, but my mom is only sixty-five. Grandma didn't have her bypass until she was eighty-five, so my mom is getting hers twenty years early.

I guess I'm going to soldier on and pretend nothing is happening. I'm not going to be like my sister and freak out and start throwing things. Does that mean I have a better leash on my emotions? I doubt it. Is my way healthy? I doubt it. I'll just save my emotion for when I see my mother on the morrow. Medical science is amazing these days. I just have to hope for the best. Hell, mom is the healthy one.

Perhaps this will have the same effect on me as when I got a call from the police about Lito. That curbed my drinking a good bit. Maybe this will make me take another look at my mortality and pull a Surf and really lose some weight. Hell, at twenty five I quit smoking. I guess I could go for the brass ring and try to be "healthy" by thirty.

I doubt it. But who knows? Sometimes you have to do the rational thing.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Is it going widdershins?

Is this dancer going clockwise or counter clockwise? I usually see it clockwise, as does most of my office, but it did go counter clockwise on about the fifth viewing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

PETA can suck my balls.

Well, after five years of trekking up to rural South Carolina with my dad and his cohorts I have finally gotten my buck. It isn't the biggest deer I've ever seen, but it is the biggest deer I've ever seen through my scope. It is the biggest deer I've ever seen alive (albeit for 45 seconds) in real life.

Five years ago my father asked me to go up to South Carolina on a father and son hunting trip with his friends and their kids. I agreed, more out of desire to make my father happy and to get to spend some quality time with him. So, I take a couple days off work in late September and drive the five and half hours to South Cackalackey.

I get up there about 1600 on a Friday and everbody else got there on the previous morning. Most everybody else has already gotten a deer on the trip. It is immediately time to go climb into a tree stand with my father. I'm nervous, not wanting to make any noise or tip off the deer in any way that there are humans about.

After about 45 minutes of sweating and smacking mosquitoes (btw, invest in a Thermocell if you are going hunting) two deer approach the corn pile a hundred yards away. My heart pounding I reach for my ungainly 6.5x.55 Swedish Mauser that still has it's original stock from when it was manufactured for WWI. I peer through the scope (the mounting of which completely ruins the value of the rifle from a collector's standpoint) and take aim on the closest deer.

"Take the shot!" urges my father. I try and stay calm and control my breathing. I fire and chamber another round. Before the bolt slams back down the deer is on the ground, having run about 7 yards after the shot. I'm shaking while I thumb on the safety and put the rifle in the corner.

We climb out of the stand and make our convoluted way from the fire break to the corn pile across a ditch. I approach the first mammal that I've ever killed (fish don't count bitches) and I'm strangely calm. The rush has passed. It turns out the deer that I killed was a "spike", or an immature male with two horns that point pretty much straight back.

I was too excited and didn't see the horns from the angle that I had before taking the shot. This is frowned upon at the hunt club that we use. Males are supposed to have an eight point rack that spreads outside the ears. My father also didn't spot the horns and I got caught up in his excitement.

I promised myself that the next male I shot would be a buck that could be mounted. I would not shoot any button bucks, spikes, cowhorns, or any point under eight. Over the intervening years I got my fair share of does, but never saw a "legal" buck. I would not say I caught the hunting bug, but I do enjoy it. I learned little tricks that make the entire trip fun.

I learned that morning hunts are cold and night hunts are hot, so layer your clothing accordingly. I learned that a good paperback book makes a great companion in a tree stand. This year I learned that an iPod with a couple audiobooks can replace a paperback.

I learned that when a group of middle aged men are in charge of cooking their own food there will be nary a green vegetable in sight and pork is a food group unto itself (separated into fat, cooking fat, and meat). I learned how difficult it is to properly undertand the South Carolinian accent.

I learned that no breakfast meat can really stand up to fresh country sausage. I learned that naps are your friend if you get up two hours before dawn. I learned that no matter how old a man gets he will still feed his urges toward pyromania.

I learned that if somebody asks me if I could eat a cheeseburger while looking at a cow it would be easy as I skinned a deer with a pork chop in my mouth. I learned that they take the Lord's Day very seriously in the country by closing the Country Store and frowning on hunting on Sunday.

So, this year when my father indicates that it is most likely the last time he will be going hunting it was the end of an era. He wonders what a 65 year old man in not the best shape is doing climbing 20 feet into the air on a narrow metal ladder. He already has his trophy bucks that are mounted.

This trip had been successful in the department of seeing deer. We had already killed eight and processed the carcasses. The biggest buck of the trip was a seven pointer with a small rack. The night hunt on Saturday was the last one of the trip, and the only reason to shoot was if you saw decent buck.

I hadn't been skunked that trip by gotting a doe Saturday morning at the Mr. Dairy stand (all the different stands on the 1200 acre property have names). So when I was climbing up into Miss Rosie's that night I was really hoping for a buck. This was possibly my last chance to get one.

I had wished the same wish and had the same hopes for the past five years, so I really was surprised when after an hour and a half I saw antlers. He came out of the woods passing behind trees. I counted four points on one side and five on the other! This was my chance.

He was crossing behind the corn pile and I'm not sure if he was going to stop. The .308 I was using had been having trouble chambering rounds, so I needed to make the first shot a good one. So I did. Of course I have no trouble chambering the next round and have the bolt back in place as he is running back into the woods, but he doesn't make it far and the point is moot.

Needless to say, my father was pleased. I didn't shoot the animal to make him happy, but it is a nice bonus. It was also nice to get the only real buck on the trip. I will be mounting this nine point buck. I'm not sure where on my wall it will go, but I'm sure I can find a place. I'll be calling Jimmy Ray in a couple months to see when I can pick it up.

Of course, the most important thing that hunting has taught me is that come the revolution, alien invasion, or zombie apocalypse I will be ready to kill.