Tuesday, October 31, 2006
Standing in a River Waving a Stick
God must have invented fly-fishing to keep old hippies from getting rich or ruling the world. -John Gierach
My good friend Kevin just got back from a weekend in the Smokies doing a little fall fly-fishing. To say that I was jealous is the understatement of the week. We have been discussing his adventure since he got back to work on Monday. He only caught a handful of fish, but that really wasn't the point of the trip.
Anyone who has ever done any fly-fishing knows that the art has less to do with catching fish and more to do with creating something beautiful. It is about rhythm and poetry. Anyone who has ever tried to cast a fly farther than 10 feet knows what I am talking about. Timing is everything.
Plus it is like someone, I think Jim Harrison, once said, "Trout do not live in ugly places." The scenery is most of the point in going. My trout adventures have taken me to some pretty remarkable spots. One of my favorites being the railroad bridge at the Caney Fork. Lots of memories there for sure.
I can remember in the early days of learning. Any fish caught were just icing on the cake. I never had any trouble getting my roommate Short to tag along. He would spend awhile fishing, take a nap on the shore, and then many times tend to helping Frodo and Sam try and get the ring through Mordor. There was never any pressure to learn or to catch fish. It was just about being on the river, seeing the sun come up, the fog lifting, deer drinking just down stream, and then the sudden tug at the end of the line.
I contend that fisherman are some of the few romantics left in this cynical world. No matter how bad the day was , the hope for tomorrow is ever strong. We can spin any day into a lesson learned or a trip to remember.
So here's to the rest of you, especially my wife, who listen as we entertain delusions of something we hold to be magical and beautiful. We know you do not understand but thank you for letting us go and listening when we return. Our stories, our adventures they mean so much!
Monday, October 30, 2006
Harvest Time And a Day's Work
So today Missy had a flat tire, we won't go into how it happened. Okay, a curb came out and jumped in front of her. Sorry sweetie, couldn't resist! HA!
Well being the good husband that I am I went to change the tire. It wasn't much, but I felt good afterward. I know that this feeling will soon leave when we get the bill for the new tire but for now I feel good. I did a job, did it well, and looked down to see my hands dirty.
In this world of academia and higher thought, it seems as though our once callused hands can grow soft. In the world of books I have noticed the extra pounds coming and have done little to fight them off. This is a sad state of affairs.
There was a time I wanted nothing more than to work hard and come home everyday tired and dirty. My jobs through out high school and college involved landscaping, greenhouse work, and general labor. They were sweaty and beautiful jobs. As someone once said I found out that my hands really did fit a shovel.
There is nothing like some manual labor to satisfy the soul. It is the beauty of using the body that the LORD has blessed us with. To knock the dust off our old bones and to stretch our muscles. To see a job from beginning to end is to share in the creative process that speaks to the image of God that lives in each of us. We were made for work and for creative endeavors.
When I think about this I think of my grandfather, his garden, and his workshop. If retirement is about taking it easy, no one told him. He worked hard well into his latter days. In fact the hardest part about that last year was watching the strongest man I have ever known being reduced to nothing by the cancer. To see the workshop neglected and the garden unplanted was just a testimony to how the fight was nearly over and he was losing. Those were hard days.
I think about him and his generation, the Depression, the wars, the work. These men knew about hard labor. Their mouths were fed by the sweat of their own brow.
There was no need for gym memberships, dieting, public health warnings about obesity. And these were people cooking with LARD! We have lost so much. How sad. For all of our technological advances we have merely come up with more ways to do less.
I once heard a comedian say that if you REALLY want to feel lazy then try explaining a drive-through window to a starving Ethiopian. "You mean not only do you not raise the livestock, kill it, clean it, butcher it, or cook it, but you don't even have to get out of your car for someone to bring it to you!"
So get out their and rake some leaves, dig a hole, build something, chop some wood, take a walk, DO SOMETHING! Let our generation remember the feeling of a good days work. Let us remember that life is not what happens on Grey's Anatomy but what we DO with our days.
Friday, October 27, 2006
Poblano Pesto Burrito
Over the last few years there have been a lot of food chains popping up known as "fresh mex" type of restaurants. These are places that serve burritos and tacos but in a MUCH different way than say something like a Taco Bell or other Mexican restaurant. These type of places serve fresh ingredients as they prepare the creation there in front of you. The best of these is a chain here in Louisville known as Qdoba.
My favorite thing there is the Poblano Pesto Burrito! The way they describe it is:Marinated grilled chicken with our Poblano Pesto sauce of roasted poblano peppers, cilantro, almonds and pine nuts. All of this is rolled up in this huge tortilla with rice, beans, salsa, sour cream, and cheese. It is so good sometimes I think of getting in the car to drive to Memphis just to SLAP MY MOMMA! No just kidding! I love you Momma! But boy is that burrito good.
This thing is so BIG when they finish wrapping it up you think to yourself that there is NO WAY it will ever fit in your stomach. But then it hits your tongue! The guilty whispers of gluttony are pushed aside as you pound that bad boy down!
Okay so NOW I am hungry. Have a good weekend everyone. Eat Well!
Thursday, October 26, 2006
REAL MEN DON'T _____!
Marshall: Why can't two men go to brunch together? When did brunch become girly? Breakfast isn't girly! Lunch isn't girly! So Why is brunch girly?!!!
Barney: Dude, a horn is manly and a horse is manly. Put them together, though, and you got yourself a unicorn!
"How I Met Your Mother"Okay so I have heard the real men do not eat quiche, and real men do not cry. Well I have tasted quiche. It's okay, not great, but okay. There are instances when a man might cry as well. This must be an extreme situation, like the death of a loved one. Crying because of pain well that's just right out! You Pansy!
So these two do not always hold up. The reason I am writing today is to discuss something that has been troubling me for sometime........MEN WEARING PINK! You know you have seen them. Men out there wearing pink shirts and acting like NOTHING is wrong! This is unexceptable!
Now I have tried to get to the bottom of this but have really never gotten a straight answer. I have asked friends about men wearing pink. Some people have said that it is okay for some men, because "They can pull something like that off." Why in the world would you want to pull something like that off? If I was super macho and wanted to wear a dress and lipstick, would people STILL say "Well he can pull that off."
This is an important subject that must be addressed as we discuss the issue of recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. There was a time when we could tell a man from a woman by the colors He or She wore. Now I am a firm believer that pastels of any sort have no business in a man's wardrobe. Maybe I can make an exception for some, but pink is RIGHT OUT! I mean what are you supposed to say to a man wearing a pink shirt? "Wow that sure is a PRETTY shirt?"
Maybe this all stems from childhood when young boys were playing with there action figures. Maybe they thought their G.I. JOE needed a wife? So they went into their little sister's room to grab a Barbie. The next thing you know the kid is playing with a doll!
Now some might say that I am insecure in my masculinity, but I am not the one wearing the pink shirt now am I?
Some of you might ask if I am being a hypocrite. You may say that the argument could be made that men should have short hair and women long hair. Since there have been periods of my life when I have had long hair, it would seem that I was being rather girly. Well my response is this: In the movie Braveheart we see MEN with long hair and wearing dresses(kilts really) waging war and being extremely tough. The movie is awesome, and every man rages and beats his chest. NOW imagine William Wallace and his band of warrior poets fighting the English wearing pink! IT JUST DOESN"T WORK!
I do not hold that men can be metrosexuals. Well they can, but I am gonna still make fun of them!
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
THE JAVA LOG
So in the spirit of my last post, I will again be discussing fire. This time though in a most interesting way. This will be my first product review on my blog.
I am all for the three "R's" of conservation(reduce, reuse, recycle) but today Sean and I came across a product that took that philosophy to a WHOLE new level. This guy has taken used coffee grounds from the billions of coffeehouses around the nation and mixed them with wax to form one of those firelogs that you are supposed to burn in your fireplace to have a romantic evening if you have no wood and firebuilding skills whatsoever.
Well Sean and I, being coffee lovers, just HAD to see this for ourselves. We went to our local organic market, okay seriously who else would sell something like this, and bought us a Java Log.
We went and burned the log in Sean's firebowl out in his back yard. Well considering I have had limited experience with firelogs in general( I know how to gather wood), I cannot say how this compares with its compeditors such as Duraflame. I do know that for a bunch of old coffee this thing burned for a good two hours. It is supposed to be better for the environment because of fewer pollutants, but I could not really comment on that. I do know that you could put your face straight in the smoke and not come up coughing like a pack-a-day smoker.
So I guess the experience was a pleasant one. I would recommend this product for someone who has extremely low testosterone levels and does not want to learn basic firebuilding. Who knows the ladies might even be impressed that you know how to light a bag on fire!
But for me I will continue to use WOOD in my fires and know that coffee grounds belong in the compost pile.
Monday, October 23, 2006
TO BUILD A FIRE
In a clump of pines on the rim of the bank the spring high-water had lodged many twigs and small branches. Thoroughly dried by the summer sun, they now waited the match.
It is impossible to build a fire with heavy Alaskan mittens on one's hands, so Vincent bared his, gathered a sufficient number of twigs, and knocking the snow from them, knelt down to kindle his fire. From an inside pocket he drew out his matches and a strip of thin birch bark. The matches were of the Klondike kind, sulphur matches, one hundred in a bunch.
He noticed how quickly his fingers had chilled as he separated one match from the bunch and scratched it on his trousers. The birch bark, like the dryest of paper, burst into bright flame. This be carefully fed with the smallest twigs and finest debris, cherishing the flame with the utmost care. It did not do to hurry things, as he well knew, and although his fingers were now quite stiff, he did not hurry. -Jack London "To Build A Fire"
Today my friend Kevin and I discussed the art of fire building. My friends and I have long said that one of the marks of a true outdoorsman was the ability to light a one match fire. On campouts we would act as if we were in a survival situation just to see if we could get a fire going with a single match. Over time we became confident of our ability and the test of manhood had been passed. After this we got lazy. We then would incorporate many different ways to cheat to get a fire going quickly, namely gobs of paper, fuel of some sort, and lighters.
One thing never changed. This was the discussion of the best type of fire to build. One friend was a log cabin type of guy, another a lean to, and still another a tepee. We would sit around and discuss the merits and shortcomings of each type. Mainly it all boiled down to "How we were Taught." It is a fun debate, especially while watching the wood burn.
Well the days are getting colder. Campfires are becoming more and more attractive to think of. I love gathering firewood, piling it nearby, so that later one must make minimal movements throughout the might to keep the blaze going. A fire is such a humbling thing of beauty. We take so much for granted and that point is never so real than when we leave our homes to sit next to a fire on a REALLY cold night. It is mesmerizing to watch a once great log being reduced to smoldering coals.
If you think that I may be romanticizing something as simple as a fire, you really should read some Aldo Leupold. He speaks of how rewarding it is to store up wood. There is nothing more appealing than well seasoned wood. One of my favorite ideas that he writes of is the idea that the trees are storing up the heat and light of the sun, so that he can one day release them in his fire.
So though your clothes may "stink" for awhile. (I personally like the smell) In this fall season enjoy the comfort of a fire whether it be around a campfire, a bonfire, or in a fireplace. Be sure to bring along some friends and maybe a few marshmallows. Oh and a coffepot for some REALLY strong campfire coffee. Black of course!
Friday, October 20, 2006
GOAT CHEESE:THE CRACK COCAINE OF THE DAIRY WORLD!
Well first off let me go ahead and say that a lot of the blogs I visit have a theme for Fridays. Last Friday I spoke on meat. I have decided that Friday's blog will now be devoted to one of my favorite subjects...FOOD!!!
Okay so now to the post at hand. The first time I had goat cheese was at a restaurant in Memphis called Bosco's. My aunt got some as an appetizer. She let me try some, and I was hooked. It was a creamy goodness that is probably illegal in some places in the world, but I was able to delight in the bounty of the goat.
Okay STOP IT! I can already see your nose starting to turn up now. "Eww! That's Gross!" Don't knock it 'til you tried it baby! I know that by looking at a goat one would question whether anything good could ever come from such an animal. But in reality they are extremely useful. Many cultures eat the meat, though America has not picked up on that one yet. In fact it is one of the few domestic meats I have yet to try. There has just been little opportunity. Edward Abbey writes about roasting a goat in his backyard once with his Cuban neighbors. The way he described it I woud have been begging for more.
Okay back to the cheese. It really is THAT good! It is a soft cheese that is mild in flavor but can be strong at times. My recent taste came from the Bardstown Rd. Farmers Market here in Louisville. There is a goat cheese guy there. He has this little table and will tell you all about the cheeses he has. The best part, though, is that the whole time he is talking to you he is serving up samples on crackers. I was in heaven.
The best variety was this one called O'Banon. It is goat cheese that has been wrapped in chesnut leaves that have been soaked in Bourbon. He told me that the Chesnut wrapper is a French thing, but they usually use a type of white wine I believe. Since this is KY, he decided to use bourbon. Boy am I glad he did! It really was a festival of flavor in my mouth! I bought some, though Missy thought it crazy to spend that much on cheese. Of course she does not like goat cheese, because my wife's tongue is broken.
One day I WILL have a farm and on that farm I 'll have some goats with a cheese cheese here and a cheese cheese there! Here a cheese! There a cheese! Everywhere a cheese cheese!
Thursday, October 19, 2006
SOMETHING MORE THAN SONG LYRICS
It isn't what she's got to say but how she thinks and where she's been.
To me, the words are nice, the way they sound.
I like to hear them best that way, it doesn't much matter what they mean.
She says them mostly just to calm me down.
-James TaylorLately some friends and I have been discussing the value of reading poetry. Yes poetry! I know this coming from the guys who likes to get dirty and eat meat! Seriously though, poetry is a way of using words that express ideas in interesting ways. If there is a difference between the educated of yesterday and the educated of today, it is that man today does not know how to read poetry. This is a shame! For the Christian this is a real handicap considering so much of Scripture is written in poetry. How are we to understand some of the prophets when we are much too literal of thinkers?
I know that sometimes poetry is hard. It sometimes takes more than one reading. The best tip I can give you is that poetry is to be read aloud. Follow punctuation, pause when appropriate, find the rhythm, and just read aloud. The words were chosen not only for their meaning but also for how they sound.
So here is some Wordsworth. Those who have seen A River Runs Through It will recognize the latter part as the father and son quoting dual, one of my favorite parts.
And O ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,
Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquish'd one delight
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripp'd lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
Is lovely yet;
The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live,
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
A SMALL BORING WORLD
This past week we learned that the population of the United States has reached the 3oo Million mark. The population of the World is somewhere over 6.5 billion. We live in THE most technologically advanced time in human history. We have electron microscopes that can see things that are almost down to the elemental levels. We have telescopes that can see further in to the universe than ever. We have mapped the entire planet, even stepped on the moon. The age of exploration and wonder must be dead. We have been there/seen that!
There are still wonderful things out there left to find! We have not seen it all!
With all of our technology and advancements we have only recently taken a picture of a LIVE giant squid. We have known for decades that they existed. They have been the thing of myth for centuries. We know that they existed because we have found dead ones in fishing nets and washing up on the shore. But they seemed to just appear at times to mock us. For all of our science, we could never document a live specimen. When I say giant, I mean it! These things are massive and one would think not easy to miss. There were men that sought these creatures with an Ahab type of intensity only to come up empty handed.
Finally after many tries a team that was studying whales South of Japan captured the first pictures of a Live Giant Squid.
This is not the only story. Recently a man canoeing through an Arkansas wilderness area saw a bird that the experts thought had been extinct for decades. This bird is called the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, or the Lord God Bird. It is the largest member of the woodpecker family. These things are HUGE! There huge and we thought they were extinct! But then all of a sudden here on pops up. There are now teams that are researching and still LOOKING for the bird.
I tell you this to say. There is still wonder out there! Still things that can make us go WOW! My father was a National Geographic subscriber for years. One of my favortite things about the monthly magazine were the new species that were added seemingly every month. Here in 2006 we are STILL adding species to the list of known animals. AMAZING!
The LORD's Creation is not boring. He will continually amaze and humble us with it. We are stewards of a planet we still know so little about.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
NO PROFOUND THOUGHTS TODAY!!!
Well today there are no profound thoughts from me. I am going to grab a quick nap and then it is off to the woods. I am going hunting this afternoon. There has been a big buck that has been eluding me lately, and hopefully he is enjoying his final day on earth as I type this blog. Hopefully sometime this evening my arrow will find him. So no more thoughts on Creation and adventure, today I go to enjoy myself! Wish me luck! Pray that the LORD will once again bless my family with meat.
Monday, October 16, 2006
What are Little Boys Made of?
What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails,
And puppy dog tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
This past weekend my uncle and cousin were in from New Jersey. My cousin brought her son, Nathan with her. He is four years old and ALL boy! Seeing him this past weekend reminded me of what being a little boy is all about.
He had two new experiences this weekend. First he was taken to a lake to catch fish. He caught six and has since told EVERYONE about the experience. One was even a pretty nice size catfish. Of course he wanted to throw all of the fish back, so they could be with their families. I guess he hasn't read my previous blog entry!!!
His other new experience was climbing a tree. Man I was jealous!!! To be a small boy and to feel how big the world can feel in the top of a tree...oh to be young! He did not climb very high or in a particularly large tree, but the smile said it all. Those days are past for me. I am pushing 260 and can only climb a tree unless a safety harness and tree stand are involved.
My other trip down memory lane happened a few months age when Missy and I were visiting our friends Brent and Kristi in Texas. They have three boys. If you need to learn about the world of a little boy, their house is a good place to start. We stayed with them for a couple of days. Brent and Kristi would keep asking whether we were okay, because Missy and I would just sit there for long periods of time. In all honesty we were amazed to watch the day to day life of our friend's household. To say that Kristi manages chaos would be an understatement. There is ALWAYS something moving and going in that house. Now I am NOT saying that these boys are misbehaving or are undisciplined, quite the contrary! They know their right from wrong. What I am saying is that there is more imagination and energy flowing under that roof than few places I have ever been.
The best example was the second night we were there. The boys had a little friend spend the night!!! Well two of them were playing downstairs with some cars. All of a sudden, the other boy comes FLYING down the stairs and runs into the room where the other two are. He screams, "GUYS, COME ON! I'VE FOUND THE SECRET TREASURE CHEST!!!" Now I was amazed at the level of this boy's imagination, but was unprepared for what happened next. The other two boys, as if on cue, dropped their cars and sprinted up the stairs following the instigator. They simply adopted this boy's imaginary world as their own in a matter of seconds.
I guess that is what I miss, the instant adventure. You never know what the next moment might hold. A lot of people have always described me as being very spontaneous. I guess I have always just seen myself as holding on to something that I don't want to let go of from my childhood. Missy has gotten pretty used to the spur of the moment hunting and fishing trips, small unplanned adventures that hold a world of possibility and wonder!
Here is to the little boy still left in all of us:
Slaying the dragons,
Flying through space,
Shooting the bad guys,
and just simply playing in the mud
Friday, October 13, 2006
There is No Such Thing as The Meat Fairy
Nothing dies easily in the woods. Animals perish, with or without our help. Most of them die violently and painfully, perhaps in the talons of a hawk, in the jaws of a coyote or as a victim of starvation or disease. My kill is quick and humane. And make no mistake, hunting by humans is natural. Man has always hunted. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Jim Zumbo
Where does our meat come from? Is there really a part of the chicken shaped like a boot or an egg to make the McNuggets? Is that all beef patty really all beef?
The subject of meat is today's topic. We are a culture that has lost our connection to the earth. We get our food in restaurants or grocery stores. We think nothing of the origin of our food.
Since I was a boy, I have been raised as a hunter and a fisherman. I know more about the subject than some. I have eaten from the bounty of my own hands and the Lord's provision. I have faced ridicule from many claiming that it is barbaric and cruel. These assessments not from vegans or PETA, but from friends and family that are themselves carnivores. As if to kill and butcher a deer is barbaric, while the unseen cows may die a death that must be noble. The truth is that many is our culture have placed the messy job of preparing meat in the hands of other men. In doing so many have forgotten what all goes into their meals. They think nothing of the farmer's long days, nothing of the butcher's bloody hands, nothing of the fishermen's weeks at sea. The meat is just always there when we need it. Either already prepared or in a cellophane wrap ready to cook.
I am not asking that everyone take up hunting and fishing. I am asking that everyone think about what all goes into bringing meat to the table. A life was lost. A sacrifice was made. Blood was split. We should not feel guilty about this for the Bible says,
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Genesis 9:1-3
But if you have ever killed something then you know that there is a sadness there. What was once alive is now dead. I cannot explain it. It is just there. Some might say that it has to do with the Fall and that death was not what was originally planned for this world. When we see death it leaves us longing for the next world where there will be no death. I don't know. Maybe.
I do know that meat is good. I like it. Our bodies were made for it. We have incisors good for cutting and gnawing. Our bodies require amino acids only found in meat. And it taste good.
As long as the procurment of the meat is ethical and humane, I say enjoy.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Thoughts from a Deer stand (Just kidding Sean!)
This morning Louisville awoke to unseasonably low temperatures. Tonight they are saying that we may have our first frost. This is amazing since Tuesday I was swatting mosquitoes and sweating while sitting in the deer stand. The best part of this morning was when I walked Missy out to her car to say goodbye as she left for work. She said, "Hey Look at the geese!" Well I glanced up with little enthusiasm. We see geese everyday. Our apartment complex has a small pond and is always filled with ducks and geese. Well today was special. We saw "V" after "V" after "V." (Geese fly in a "V" formation for all those out there who have very little natural contact) Well it seems that this massive cold air from tho north has pushed down our first wave of waterfowl from the great northern plains. It was great because we saw about a hundred geese in all and they were flying low, just above the roof tops.
This morning was a blessing. It says summer is over! Fall is on its way. The leaves are starting to really change here as well. Everyday brings new colors. There is a distinct nip in the air as some would say. Everywhere we look the season is changing!
Today's assignment is this: Go outside...yes I know it maybe cold where you are, just put on some warm clothes!!! We serve a Creator that declares His own glory through His creation. This creation is not static. It is ever changing. The seasons remind us a lot about life, rebirth in the spring/death in the fall. There is a reason people refer to the autumn of life.
This is a season of harvest and celebration! This morning before work Missy and I were hollowing out the innards of a pumpkin she had bought. Tonight I will enjoy some roasted pumpkin seeds. The smell of cinnamon is in the air(Right Kevin?)
The days will grow shorter. The days will grow colder. The world will begin to look gloomy to some. But we will begin appreciate our warm clothes, our warm homes, and our warm food. Let us not let this season pass us by unnoticed!!!
For Seasonal Reading: A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
This is my blog. I have long said that I was gonna start this journey into the world of blogging...well here goes nothing. This is hopefully going to just be a place for me to share ideas with new and old friends. Discussion is encouraged! This blog is hopefully going to have a sort of front porch feel, well as much as you can have while sitting staring a a screen!!! Any topic is fair game and rabbits will continually be chased. If you have never heard me tell a story then let me warn you now, GET COMFORTABLE! I have long believed that good storytelling is in the details. And so with that we are off...