Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dog Crazy

I went to Klamath Falls last weekend and came home with a dog, its son, and the flu.  Two out of three ain't bad.

I'm no dummy.  I know that withholding puppy pics while droning on and on about kids and the ranch and whatever made me chuckle last week is a form of torture for most.  Besides, I still have the bug, and really want to sit on the couch and watch the season finale of the Australian crime-drama, Wanted.

So, in as few words as possible, here's Boi (not to be confused with my second-ever horse, Boy, or the guy named Sandy whom I called Boy because I didn't believe any parent would name their son Sandy.  I was young, ok?), the Australian Shepherd and Border Collie mix.  And, of course, the star of the show, Pancho Villa.  Or Chancho (we've been on a Nacho Libre kick).  Or Lord Pupperston, or Robot.  We're still working on a name for the puppy.  And, of course Lardo.

We may be overestimating how much he can eat
You're welcome.

Boi doesn't sit still, hence, only one pic.
Here he is teaching his son good digging habits

And a few seconds of a puppy dreaming, just in case you thought, "eh, he's not that cute."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Big City Lights

Dreadford.  Methford.  The City.  Love it or hate it, and whatever we call it, trips to Medford, Oregon, are as unavoidable as belly shirts at the county fair.  And, like belly shirts, no one wants to see them, but no one can look away, either.  I'm not sure that analogy works perfectly, but it's pretty close.  I shoot for every-other-month supply runs to Medford.  I hold out as long as I can for whatever it is I might need -- arrows, chonies, cowboy boots, belly shirts, fish sauce -- before I break down and dash north.

This is not Dylan at my doctor's appointment.
It's her checking the pulse on a dog.
Trust me, that's way better than a photo of
us at the dermatologist's office.
Last week, I went twice.  I pulled the kids out of school early for the first trip and it was a mixture of pleasure and pain.  The good part was the trip to The Sportsman's Warehouse to pick up Dylan's bow. Standing around with a bunch of dudes while we discussed stabilizers and 5-pin sights for her pink bow was nothing less than a joy.  Three employees all helped Dylan while she flung arrows at deer targets and we came out of there with her tricked-out bow and a $10/2 lb. bag of gut cramping beef sticks.  That was the pleasure.

We also had to visit my dermatologist.  I'm the third whitest dude in the Pacific Northwest and, thus, go see Dr. T once a year.  I hold my shirt up like I'm a single mom at a Mötley Crüe reunion concert while he spot burns off weird bits from my body with liquid nitrogen.  At one point he put down the liquid pain and picked up a scalpel and cauterizer pen and went to work.  The kids looked on in both fascination and horror.  The room smelled like a branding.  I'm pretty sure they both immediately scratched "dermatologist" off their list of possible career choices.

Not the puppy we looked at, but still cute.
Trip Two was a little easier on the body, but more crushing on the soul as it was strictly a slam up to Costco.  It's a new Costco, so it's supposed to be nice, but I don't know what that means except I'm equally as lost there as I was in the old one.

Like Trip One, there has to be good with the bad, and one thing that Medford does exceedingly well is cheap Mexican food.  My second-favorite spot sits behind the sign-spinning asshole dressed as Lady Liberty and is adjacent to a Quick Cash store.  The burritos are the size of healthy babies and the horchata is fresh.  It melted away all the Costco induced anxiety and replaced it with happiness and gas.

From there we took the back way home.  By that I mean we drove two hours out of our way and went to Klamath Falls to "look" at puppies.  But that's another town, and another story.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Lunch Lady Dad

Nothing to do with food, just two kids and a cat
When I was in the 5th grade, I ate an onion sandwich every day for lunch.  I don't know why.  I never had one prior to the 5th grade, and, I'm pretty sure, I've never tried one since.  Also, that was the year that I wanted to start talking to girls, but they'd always run away.  That's gotta be a coincidence, right?  I guess 5th grade is just a wonderful age for food discovery.  And bad breath.

Generally, I get the kinds organized in the mornings.  Aside from peeling kiwis and french braiding hair, I also get their lunches ready.  Grady's easy.  Remember, grades K - 4 don't really give a rip what's in their lunch.  Food is just something that gets in the way before they can run out to the playground.  As a gluten-free kid, Grady's surprisingly easy.  I just toss some deli meat, cheese, fruit, and chips into his lunch box, and BAM! Done.

Dylan in her happy place.
Dylan, of course, is more complex.  It used to be easy making her lunch.  I'd made her a sandwich every day since kindergarten. But once she hit the 5th grade, her palate changed.  Now, I'm more like her personal yacht-chef, minus the cooking skills.  Luckily, she asks for either A) some sort of leftover combination, or B) cookies.  I oblige the former, and generally cave in to the latter.

Here's a good example.  Today's lunch included shredded sirloin over couscous with a chimichurri sauce.  If I made up a pu pu platter her lunch would have included all three of the most fun-to-say foods.  Some days she'll get onigiri, others she'll have wild game over rice, and when it's chilly, she'll get hot pumpkin curry soup.  It's like a little Blue Apron meal order kit, but for kids.  Regina does most of the heavy-lifting in getting the meals prepared; I just toss leftovers into a Tupperware and call myself chef.  I know my mom could have whipped up pretty similar lunches (although we didn't eat much wild game, and couscous was twenty years away from Scott Valley), which makes me wonder, why in the hell did I choose to eat onion sandwiches every single day?  Who was I so mad at?

I like that our kids will, at least, try any new food and they like just about everything.  Puddings give Grady the jeebies, and Dylan insists she doesn't like onions (despite the copious amounts in the chimichurri I put in her lunch).  At least I'm off the hook for making those boring sandwiches.  As long as I can put together leftovers in some sort of favorable combination, I'll be fine.  If I can't, we always have cookies.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Name Game

Lardo and his bestie Sergio
The Eastside Gang has a reasonably democratic system for naming our pets.  It usually goes: 1) I choose a name and everyone shoots it down, 2) I keep calling said animal by that name, and if no one comes up with anything better, the unfortunate name sticks.  It's similar to our process of electing government officials, only with fewer dick pics.

There's also a hierarchy of animals and their names.  I usually get to name the dogs, and Regina and I collaborate on horse names.  There are always exceptions.  Regina named Lardo, the St. Bernard, because I picked him up at a restaurant by that name.  Dylan named our last foal Princess Banana Peel and you'd have to be the biggest jerk in the world to turn down a name that awesome.  Regina, inexplicably, lets me name the cats, unless it's a particularly cute/orange/fuzzy one, then she calls it Schmooshy, Fuzzy, or OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU SO MUCH, and I just can't top that.

Hermione, or HerMOOne
Last year, Dylan named her fair heifer Hermione, after the Harry Potter character.  I thought I'd come up with the dad-joke of the year when I tried to rename her HerMOOne.  That name went over like a fart in church, but believe me, I tried pretty hard to make it stick.  I started calling this year's heifer Dolores, after the lead singer of The Cranberries who just passed away.  Dylan wanted to change it, only because she wanted to name her daughter Dolores, not her heifer.  I don't know what freaked me out more, the fact that she's already naming her children, or my first granddaughter will be a Dolores.  But, she hasn't come up with a better name for the heifer, so Dolores it is.

Grady loves all things Transformer, so he named his goat Bumblebee.  If he had his druthers, he'd probably name all the animals Bumblebee.  He'll be getting his fair turkeys soon and I'm anxious to find out which Transformer he's going to name them after.

We're in the market for a new puppy (I'm sort of always in the market for a new puppy, but that's a different story), and for the first time in a long time, I haven't already chosen a name before I've picked out a dog.  I'm okay, at best, at picking out names, but where I really suck is picking out puppies (see: Floyd, Chowder, Buster ... ).  I may just forfeit this turn and let Regina pick out the pup and the kids pick the name.  Bumblebee II just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

A Freezer Full of Ice

I'd intended for this post to be written sometime in November.  It was supposed to have been about my struggles as a hunter, and how, with the help of my two small, but plucky, children, and a belly full of grit, I overcame it all and look! a 5-point high mountain blacktail! a 400-pound black bear!  What? Another giant buck?  Look at that freezer full of wild game.  Damn, Hanna, you're awesome.

Yeah, no.  Instead, I have lots of photos of scenery -- which in and of itself is always one of the best parts of hunting, it's just not edible.  Or only parts of the scenery are edible, the rest give you diarrhea.

There's not much worse than hearing stories about unsuccessful hunts, unless they end with, "... and that's how I survived the mauling," so I won't bore you with too much.  I did get to camp in the Marble Mountain Wilderness with Dylan and we buck hunted until we ran out of Paydays.  I took her to the Russian Wilderness, twice, where we studied bear claw marks on cedar trees and wondered, aloud, where in the hell all the bucks went.  I took both kids on a bear hunt where there were so many piles of bear shit loaded with manzanita berries it looked like Martha Stewart would sell them on Etsy as Thanksgiving cornucopias.  That hunt may have been a little more than we bargained for and I ended up carrying Grady down some particularly steep slopes.

I hunted the August heat and the November snow, I climbed the dry hills of our ranch and the steep forested public land, I belly crawled through buck brush and perched on rocky ridge lines, but came up empty.  I did get one quick crack at a big ol' bear, but whiffed it.  So, right now, my wild game bounty consists of only a sandwich bag with two Eurasian dove breasts (they're invasive and can be shot year-round, plus, they really like hanging out in our yard).

But, that's hunting.  I'd hoped my kids could be witness to my amazing skills as an outdoorsman and provider, but there's always next year.  We're already stocking up on Paydays.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Bulls and the Bees

Today is Bull Turnout Day.  Non-ranchers might not realize the gravity of this important holiday, or even understand what in the hell BTD is.  It's the day the bulls go from hanging out and fighting with all their other bull-homies to hanging out and Netflix & Chilling with an entire herd of fine bovine mamas.

We drive all the bulls into our corrals and start sorting them by either age or disposition.  The youngbloods hang together, the weathered and worn old fellas get penned up together, and the rest we sort into groups of 4-6.  There's always a jerk.  Or, this year, we had several jerks that needed to be put in timeout.  Before we could sort them out, they turned our corrals into Cornville, Kansas, during tornado season.  They fought through fences, exploding boards and posts, while my brothers and I just stood back and watched.

BTD is the (sort-of) perfect opportunity for discussing the birds and the bees with the kids.  Did I use the day to awkwardly stumble through the finer points of the miracle of life?  No.  We talked about Jumanji.  The other day Regina mentioned getting a book for them as a modern way of having "the talk."  I scoffed.  I never had "the talk."  I had a stollen stash of my brothers' Playboy magazines and got to tag along on Bull Turnout Day.  Which, in hindsight, didn't answer any questions that I probably had.  Yeah, maybe she ought to get that book, now that I think of it.
I have no idea what I'm looking for.
I just hope I don't get poop on my mustache.

Dylan already has a head start though.  She's had Artificial Insemination lessons, been in the corrals while we've pulled calves, witnessed several live births, and has helped us during both preg-checking and bull semen-testing days.  She's in a 4-H Vet Science class where she'll dissect the reproductive tract of a heifer.  I know, it's not the same, but she's been around a lot of bovine baby-making.  The seeds of information for mammal existence have been planted, and I just hope they'll sprout before she needs "the talk," or, worse yet, I have to read her "the book."

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Bribing Baja Jesus

We just returned from our annual Baja extravaganza and I wanted to write about Fishing With Jesus, because it makes for such a great title.  But here's the thing about fishing:  I suck at it and Regina, on the other hand, is great.  To prove this point, we hired a kid named Jesus, and his ponga, to take us fishing for a day.  Jesus rigged up our fishing poles and we started trolling.  We had exactly the same lure on our poles, although mine was green and hers was hot pink.  Two lures, side by side, and guess who caught all the fish?  Yeah, not me.  Regina filled the boat with Yellowtail and Sea Bass while I watched.  When I finally caught a fish, a Grouper no less, I didn't even really "catch" it.  I accidentally snagged the hook through his little brain.  Mr. Grouper was probably trying to make his way to that sweet hot pink lure when my dumb ass green one hooked his head.

So, instead of lying about all the fish I caught, I thought I'd really get to more exciting business and write about the roads.  Sounds dumb, and it might be, but I'm a sentimental creature, and driving through Baja's desert always brings back memories.  I pull over at every single pit stop and cantina, just so I can show the kids where I once bought an Orange Fanta when I was five.  Or if someone's selling burritos from the back of a van, then I'm just obligated to stop.  But I also stop so I can catch my breath and relax a second before we hit the roads again.  As beautiful as the Baja desert is, it doesn't always make for relaxing driving.

Much of our route on this trip followed the same trail that the Baja 1000 was just on, meaning it's a road best served for jacked-up desert rigs with oversized tires.  My truck handled the roads fine, just at much slower speeds.  Our first stretch of pavement, south of San Felipe, fools me every time.  The road looks perfectly smooth, but every quarter mile or so there's a vado.  Vados are just dips in the road where rainwater can run on the off chance that it rains.  Normally, they're roller-coaster fun to hit.  On this road, Baja-legend says that tourists die every year from hitting them too fast.  I believe it.  I may have had all four tires leave the hardtop on more than one occasion, and I'm surprised our cooler stayed put in the back.  Gringos have even spray-painted names on some of the really bad ones.  There's "Oh Shit Dip!" which is followed by "Oh Shit Dip II."  Then there's "Oh Dip Shit!" and then they either ran out of ideas or paint because the next hundred or so vados aren't named, but are equally suspension-crunching.

After we cleared that section and we got back on Highway 1, the real driving challenge began.   Highway 1 has more potholes than Hussein Drive in Baghdad, and the locals who drive it all seem like they're auditioning for driving jobs in next year's Baja 1000.  There is absolutely no shoulder, and I'm a notorious gawker, which is a bad combination.  It's definitely a two hands on the wheel, two eyes on the road kind of driving.  My strategy is to make little micro-adjustments to avoid the really deep potholes and haul-ass over the rest.  That's probably the norm, but we passed a lot of folks who tried to swerve around every pothole, and consequently were driving like it was a Saturday night after the rodeo dance.

The rest of the roads were just dirt.  This was fine by me because I'm pretty used to both driving on dirt and driving on dirt in Mexico.  I drove a little slower, turned up the tunes, and I finally got a chance to gawk at every Cardon cactus and Boojum tree that we passed.

This trip took us a little farther into Baja then our previous drives, and it brought back a lot of memories.  We stayed at a place that I hadn't been to since I was Dylan's age and the kids did the exact same thing I probably did when I got there: plopped down in the sand and started playing.  I'm already excited about going back and I've got a few tricks up my sleeve for our next fishing trip.  I'm going to slip Jesus a few extra pesos, and maybe he'll give me that hot pink lure.