Monday, January 26, 2009

Let me do the talking, angel. I don't know yet what I'm going to tell them. It'll be pretty close to the truth.

I have been awake now for thirty-four hours. In a row. Because of work. I think it is well past time that I stop being awake and cold and dirty. It is time for some sleep. I love you all but get the fuck out of here so I can catch some shut eye.

Peace out, bitches!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This man is black. We can all see that. But, can we also see as easily, that which is equally true? That he is the only true hero in this room.

Good speech. Good ending to a bad reign of witches (nods to T. Jefferson). Good surf. Good bowels. Good day. I think this calls for dinner at Harold & Belle's.

Peace out, bitches!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Here, take a cookie. I promise by the time you're done eating you'll feel right as rain.

Ah fuck! I'm still fucking sick! This is bullshit! Best swell in months, head high and over waves all up and down the coast, and I"m missing it because of diarrhea!? What the hell? That's it, I'm getting some Immodium AD and calling it a day. The house is a mess, the dog has got cabin fever, and the laundry is piling up. I've got things to do dammit! I'm also completely and utterly tired of chicken broth and chicken soup and just chicken in general. I want a spicy meal from Thailand or Indo or China. I want greasy goodness in a cheeseburger. I want hummus and kibbeh. In short, I want some real fucking food! Ahhhhh!

Peace out, bitches!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ah, who am I kiddin'? Evewything fwom the waist down, is Kaput!

Still sick. Sat at home all day, shitting every hour. Had to cover myself at work. Awesome. This sucks. That is all.

Peace out, bitches!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

She turned me into a newt! A newt? Well, it got better.

Ah, so reports of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. What? Yes, I died for awhile yesterday but I've been reborn and am ready and willing to get back out there. I went hunting for ducks again (only four days left!) and bagged two. One Ruddy and, finally, one hen Shoveler. That's right, a Shoveler! Revenge is sweet. Following that Ghost and I decided to go shoot some quail, although I suspect he just wanted to run around like a jackass, which he did. The weirdest thing happened: midway through our wanderings I got incredibly nauseous and felt weak and basically collapsed. I sat for a minute, had some water, and tried to get up. We walked about a hundred yards and the same thing happened. I passed out for about half an hour and when I awoke Ghost was running in circles chasing finches. I realized I was either sick or hungry but definitely fucked as we were several miles from the car. Off we go and not ten minutes later I threw up and had to shit. Good times out in the bush. By the time we got back to the car I was more than a little concerned and my stomach was in knots. I tried to eat a PB&J and that bounced right out immediately. Not good, especially with an hour long drive ahead of me. I made it home but not before stopping several times to shit and I stopped a couple of times because the pain in my gut was making it hard for me to see. As luck would have it, I got home and passed out and Melah showed up with Gatorade and chicken broth. Lifesaver!

I feel completely better this morning but I think I'll take it slow anyway. What a weird way to end a hunting trip. Anyway, the ducks are going into a pasta dish, either ravioli or served on top of a bed of something. I love ravioli so...

Peace out, bitches!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What the hell is wrong with you? If you're with a woman for any length of time, eventually you'll ask her that question.

Never, under any circumstances, rush into a marriage because in doing so you will sow the seeds for a protracted and annoying parting of ways somewhere down the line. This is not to say you shouldn't get married, just take your time, weigh your options. Maybe watch for awhile, quietly, how the other person moves through the world. Are their movements graceful and in harmony with the world or are they more likely to smash through things as go around? Which do you prefer? Realize also, before you pop the question or say "yes" that the other person, much like you, is only going to become more what they are as time goes on. If you feel yourself changing, or worse, don't notice you've changed, you might be rushing into something you'll regret. I'm reminded of all of this or babbling about all of this because I just got my divorce paperwork and the ex is out for monetary revenge in an effort to soothe the insult of my affair. It has all boiled down to money: how much for how long and for what. For what, exactly? I suspect it is truly an act of revenge and a rather petty one at that but so be it, I'll pay because, paradoxically, I haven't the time or the money to not pay. It's a wonderful system we've created here: you're told you should get married as it'll be great for taxes (it isn't) and you'll live longer (yeah, right) and it's what's meant to be (I am not so sure about that) and it'll be great (in much the same way having a job you like is great: it's still a job). I think one of the greatest things we could do as a culture in which somewhere around half of all marriages end in divorce would be to require kids to take a class on marriage. They could look at the statistics on divorce and all the other ugly bits of the marriage contract. They could talk to happily married people. They could talk to divorcees. They could study the institution of marriage vis-a-vis religious institutions and the modern nation state. In short, they could get all the facts before they agreed to swallow the party line on marriage being the ultimate state of human bliss. It can be, if you know how much work is involved and have thus made an informed decision about the person with whom you're entering into the contract. Kids should learn that romance is not the only basis for a long lasting relationship. Yeah, it's awesome but are you going to keep it up forever? Odds are no, but that just makes the instances of romantic love over the course of a long relationship that much sweeter. Are you going to fight? Yep, and probably quite a bit but that ain't the end of the world. A well reasoned argument now and then can actually make a relationship better but it's best to get the fundamental ones out of the way before you get married. You know, get to know the other person before you potentially come to hate each other and then proceed to give them half your stuff.

Ah, but I ramble. In the end I guess the best thing to do is keep your mouth shut and your eyes and, in so far as they can, your ears open when you meet someone. Your first instinct about them is probably the right one and you should probably trust that part of your brain over the part that says, "to be an adult I must get married." That part of your brain is the childish part, the part that's still concerned with impressing everyone around you. Go for self and you'll wind up happier, or at least out of the morass that is the legalese of divorce settlements.

Peace out, bitches!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

According to The Oxford English Dictionary, the word "snapshot" was originally a hunting term.

Ahhhh! Hunting is awesome but oh such a pain in the ass it can be! I went all the way up to the Kern National Wildlife Refuge and got my ass kicked. I got there late but got on the "free roam" area by 10am so I thought I was lucky. Goddamn I was wrong. The free roam area is a gigantic, thick, and unruly area of marsh at the south east corner of the refuge and, as the name implies, you set up your dekes wherever you want or roam around deke free. Hunters are responsible for making sure they're far enough apart so no one gets Cheyned. Aside from being difficult to get around in due to the thick reed cover you also have to navigate around all the other jackasses out there and the place is huge. I spent an hour walking in and out of marshland only to find every bit of open water already had someone camping out on it and boy oh boy, were they unhappy to have my dumb ass interrupting them. I was also overheating as I was carrying eighteen dekes, blind bag, gun, and wearing waders, a thick jacket and a beanie. About thirty minutes into my death march I had to stop and take off the beanie and stow the jacket in the deke bag and drop wader-trou. My shirt was absolutely drenched but when I had started walking it was freezing. Now the sun was high and the cloud cover had burned off. Go for heat exhaustion. I finally found a spot: small bit of water but shallow and reedy with cover all around, including some reeds that allowed me to sit on my little chair but be concealed. I threw out all eighteen dekes and set up shop and waited. And waited. And waited. Once again the Shovelers fucked with me and they are now my mortal enemy. My only goal for the last few days of the season is to kill as many Shovelers as possible. While they are fascinating looking birds they are now my sworn enemy. A couple flew bizarre patterns around my head but not one got close enough to pop. A huge flight of Green Wing Teal came straight at the spread and just as I was calling them in some lard-ass came tumbling through the bush and flared them off, never to be seen again. Literally, as I was drawing down on them he spooked them. Awesome. I stood up, he said "Oh, I didn't see you there." I replied, "Yeah, well, the birds definitely saw you." He looked confused and then sad and slunk off back into the primordial ooze to go find another pond to hunt. I tried calling. I tried not calling. I sat so still and quiet that I had a bird land on the barrel of the FNG. Some sort of long-legged black stork thing flew straight at me and freaked out about three feet from me when he realized I was there. All in all, very cool stuff but no ducks. Harumph!

On a more positive note, I then drove for nearly three hours to get to Doug and Meaghan's slice of heaven along the coast, just up from Goleta which is just up from Santa Barbara. They  are now the proud owners of some 2008 close-out baby girl twins who were born December 30th. Cuttin' it close, ladies. They're actually cute babies! I know most people always think babies are cute but I find them rather off-putting most of the time, at least in regards to their looks and lack of decorum. Ah, what a lovely family unit! I'm overjoyed that Doug and Meaghan have a little family and I'm slightly jealous but my time will come. We hung out for awhile, basking in the glow of two new lives just starting out on their journey but eventually I had to go home. Long drive, late night duck call practice, sleep. Good times.

Peace out, bitches!

Friday, January 9, 2009

You didn't think they were important? Do you realize I had my dessert wrapped in those papers?

It really is all about the right tool for the job. In this case it was a Canadian belt knife and it worked wonders on breasting out my little Green Wing Teal. The other ducks came apart about as perfectly. You know, in the catalog for the company I ordered the knife from it was described as being akin to a surgeon's blade. While that may be true I certainly wouldn't want me operating on myself or anyone else but I think I did OK for a damn duck hunter. I mean, the intestines and entire body cavity are still intact! Try doing that sometime, it ain't easy.

So the birds have been butchered and cooked and mixed with this and that and are all currently steaming along wrapped in handmade masa and corn husks. Yep, my little guys are well on their way to being spicy and tasty tamales. I'm going to make some green beans and maybe wild rice in a bit and that'll be that, good meal and well earned. I also made creme brulee because I'm kind of in to custards. Whatever, it's a good excuse to use a chef's torch and caramelize some sugar. I like cooking but I wish I were good enough to go without a recipe. I did freestyle the duck tamales but I had to look up the masa preparation. I think it'll be good, instead of water or chicken stock I used some of the left over duck broth. Double the duck might be tasty!

OK, off to the Natural History Museum for a nigh time lecture on Darwin's Origin of the Species, which turns 100 years old this year. The museum is doing a lecture and tour of part of the museum every Friday night for the year and it's only $9 to get in! Personally, I think this is brilliant but the addition of DJs and a band after the lecture and tour seems sort of silly. I guess I'm a snob and/or old but I really don't feel like sticking around to dance around the grounds of the museum. Tonight the tour is going through the ornithology wing of the joint and I plan on not saying anything about my status as a bird murder, Alex. A bird murderer!

Peace out, bitches!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I danced before Napoleon. No, Napoleon danced before me. As a matter of fact, he danced 200 years before me.

Ah ha! So that's how you hunt ducks! Yes, it's true, I finally had a really good day of duck hunting and by day, I mean I was out there all damn day and loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not the point at around 2pm when my goddamn contacts started drying out. Note to self: carry contact lens juice in blind bag.

The day started off par for the course: I didn't get picked in the sweat line but I did get put first on the "replacement" list. I retreated back to the Pumpkin and Ghost and I took a three hour nap. By the way, that car does not retain heat for shit! So cold, so very very cold. I awoke to find the parking lot empty except for another truck full of very patient duck hunters. As luck would have it, some old bastard limited out (7 birds) in record time and was at that precise moment walking past my car. I was soon awarded the prize of Marsh D blind. Hoorah! I would be up and shooting by 9am! Granted, this feels like noon for duck hunters as you've been up and ready since at least 3am but I digress. Marsh D was marked on the office map as having a "dry" walkway up to the blind. This turned out to be partially true as the walkway was partially underwater and the blind was underwater. That's right, palm fronds tied off to hog wire with two benches a foot over the water so no bueno for the hound. He didn't seem too bummed when I took him back to the Pumpkin.

Decoys up and bag hooked off so as not to fall in the drink and boo-yah, let's hunt! I recently bought a Teal call and dammit if that thing didn't work right away: beautiful Green Wing Teal drake quacked and then dropped into the spread. I popped him a foot off the lead deke. I really wanted a Green Wing Teal, they are amazing looking birds: iridescent green highlights on the head and wings with deep purple accents on the head. So amazing. Too bad taxidermy is stupid expensive. Next up a hen Bufflehead came screaming over the dike to my left and two shots folded her ten yards out. I actually got an "atta boy" from the next blind over.

Around lunch time I met a very interesting older man with, and I'm not kidding, one tooth. What he lacked in dentures he more than made up for in hospitality and information. Thanks to Dominick I got myself onto Marsh Y and found out why it gets taken first every time: birds like it and the pathway to it is high and dry. While setting up I found some camo material and made shade and overhead cover for Ghost and I and spent the rest of the day in total comfort. I now believe being comfortable is what made me miss every shot on every Northern Shoveler that came my way, and came they did. I had at least five flights of Shovelers come over, circle to my calls, and almost land. I missed every single one of them.

At this point I discovered that what I thought was a full box of ammo was a half box. D'oh! Six rounds left! Pintails came from behind and to the left so I'm shooting into the sun. Result? Three rounds down, birds win again. Three rounds left. Shoveler, again. Result? One round down, Shovelers have collectively made me their bitch. Two rounds left. A good sized Ruddy duck pops over the dike, at least 100 yards out and heads right for the far dekes. Fifteen agonizing minutes later the slowest and most wayward Ruddy duck in the world is within 45 yards. Shoot or wait? Ghost, what say you? Snore. Fucking dog. I wait. Close side of the dekes and suddenly he decides to bail so I pop up and take aim. Result? One round left, Ruddy duck down! I take this all as a sign that it's time to wrap it up as the prospect of collecting dekes in the dark sounds wretched. Besides, with the way I've been shooting I might as well take my last round and toss it into the drink. Either way, I'm calling this a good goddamn day.

Peace out, bitches!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I got a good mind to join a club and beat you over the head with it.

The best laid plans of mice and quail hunters... Blythe, CA is a weird little place along the Arizona/California border, right up against the Colorado River. Literally. It's surrounded by BLM land that I thought I could hunt but soon found out that wasn't really the case. A lot of this land is being "leased" by double wides and farmers and assorted desert rats. After a bit of wandering and walking around I found a nice patch of riverside scrub and Ghost and I jumped in, all kinds of gung-ho. After three very brutal hours of bushwhacking we jumped a nice sized covey of Gambels but the scrub was so thick that at first I wasn't sure if I was looking at quail or not. It was like trying to shoot shadows. They were, in fact, quail as I discovered after I worked my way behind the cover the covey had dove into. I scared up a double and actually succeeded in popping both of them at medium range. They both dropped like stones so I wasn't too worried about finding them. I looked down and lo and behold, Ghost was on point! I told him to "fetch" and he did! He grabbed both birds and dropped them at my feet! Happy days! (Imagine the screen goes crazy a la Doctor Who) Wait, what?! Oh yeah, back to reality: Ghost was on point and when I asked him to fetch he poked his head into some cover, turned around and sat down. In the shade. With his paws crossed. Not only did he not fetch my birds but he watched me try to cut my way through a 'Nam-like tangle of scrub with a belt knife. What the fuck!? I got nowhere near the birds and I like to think they fell right next to each other, nice little present for some hungry coyote. You're welcome! You're all welcome!

By this point we had walked several miles and I decided to turn back. We managed to scare up another good sized covey and trying to shoot them was insane. We were walking along a slough with heavy cover on both sides and I knew there were quail holding hard in the scrub so we stopped. Two seconds later a huge covey came out of the far side like Harriers: straight up and turbo boost along the slough and into some cover along the river. They were so fast and low it almost looked like they were running. I fired twice but I was way too late and behind them. Damn dirty quail.

On to the next bit of scrub.

North thru picturesque Blythe and into some slightly less insane scrub near the river. After a couple of hours of slowly stalking a couple of acres we ran into a bizarre sight: a field of bleached white mule deer carcasses. It looked as if someone had 
slaughtered every mulie within sight and dumped them all here. The carcasses were laid out in semi-neat rows and had obviously sat there and decomposed. Very odd. We scarred up another covey of birds but they jumped out way off to the side and we couldn't find them again. Ah, hunting, how I loves ya!

I'm hoping today's unmitigated failure of both shot and retrieval won't be repeated tomorrow. I'm hoping tomorrow will be a fruitful bit of sitting around shooting ducks until I get my limit. Wouldn't that be nice?

As for the dog- we're in a hotel in Palm Springs (discount season!) and he's sleeping on the end of my bed. I can't even get mad at him, at least he ran his ass off and was excited to be out and about. Too bad he has no fucking idea what he's doing.

Peace out, bitches!

Monday, January 5, 2009

And remember, while you're out there risking your life and limb through shot and shell, we'll be in be in here thinking what a sucker you are.

Plans are afoot! Long distances have been covered, maps have been procured, shells have been sorted, gear has been packed into the Pumpkin, the dog is ready, I am ready. First day: quail near the Colorado River out in the desert, my belly baking in the hot sun trying to shoot a bird, but I can't. Why can't I? Whatta you mean I can't?! Do you make these questions up or do they write them down for you? Second day: Early morning run from the border to San Jacinto and hopefully into some ducks. Third day, yeah, maybe a third day: down into San Diego County and some more quail along the Mexican border. What could be better?

Peace out, bitches!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

I'm here a week now waiting for a mission, getting softer...

So Melah and Ani are going back to work and school tomorrow and Ghost and I and our expanding bellies couldn't be happier. It's not that we don't love them, it's just that they're, how to put this politely, rather sedentary. In their defense they're seven and lazy, you be the judge of which to apply to whom. In all seriousness, I've come to realize that I am not someone who sleeps-in unless hung-over and I'd rather not spend too much time sitting on my ass unless I'm hunting or watching football. Otherwise, there's way too much to be done and I think that come the end of winter break tonight the Ghost and the Darkness will be back in full time business: long hikes into the mountains, hours spent chasing quail through the great expanse of the high desert, multiple trips to the gym every week. Yes, sounds like we might be getting another mission soon!

I do believe, as this might be the last week that I'm not busy, that Tuesday and Wednesday will be spent out of the house and in the field. Tuesday seems like a great day to go quail hunting out by the Colorado River on Indian territory. You can sort of cheat and get an Indian license which allows you to hunt  both the Califas side of the mighty Colorado and the Arizona side without getting an Arizona license. Take that, Land of McCain! Camp or cheap hotel and then up and at the ducks in the San Jacinto area on Wednesday morning. Maybe even extend it all and head towards the deserts south east of San Diego for another day of quail hunting on Thursday. Then surf again Friday and wonder why no one ever calls me to do anything. I don't care, I just want to hunt and surf and see some cool shit, ya heard?

So I cooked my duck today for a snack and it was amazing. My little hen Ruddy duck ended up being delicious: breasted out and grilled with a little salt and pepper and served with a freshly made batch of Salsa Verde Italian-style. Amazing. Simple and good and straightforward food and the smug sense of satisfaction that comes with making it. Ha! God I'm an asshole.

Peace out, bitches!