I have been a hunter for most of my life. Now before you get all bent out of shape I have always eaten what I have killed. For a while there game was a major contributor to the dining room table. Try feeding a family of four while going to college when the GI Bill contribution was a walloping grand $247 per month. So, of course I have accumulated a few hunting stories over the years.
Back in the day, one of my Army buddies was a duck hunter, big time. He asked me to go along on a hunt and like an idiot, I agreed. It quickly became obvious that duck hunting is one of the cruelest forms of self-abuse. Sitting in freezing cold duck blind, with a cold, shivering, simpering dog, listening to your hunting partner blowing loudly into a duck call, waiting interminably for one lousy duck to fly over is not my idea of communing with nature.
Walking back to the truck I was so stiff with the cold I was doing the ‘Frankenstein Stomp’. The dog and I huddle together for warmth, both of us were whining. But the fun was not over. We went to a local sportsman’s bar. I have to admit it was a classic spot. There were gun racks on the walls, rugs for the dogs to sleep on, no stools at the bar, a brass rail and spittoons. I was enjoying an Irish Coffee and finally beginning to get sensitivity back into my hands and feet when it happened.
There is an old expression about being cold. It goes, “Colder than a well-diggers a**.” My hunting partner asked me how I was feeling and I used that expression to describe myself. I turned back to the bar and I heard an , “Ahem” and felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and saw another hunter. He was every bit of 6-foot-six. He said, “I’m a well-digger.”
“Well er ah, well ahhhh, can I buy you a drink or 12? I meant no disrespect. If it wasn’t for guys like you we couldn’t make whisky.” Was my feeble response. Geez.
I am not the only hunter in the house. The Kilkenny Brothers are naturals. They are constantly bringing me gifts. However, their choice of cuisine are not my favorites. Bugs don’t have a chance they gobble them right down. Their outdoor excursions occasionally supply a mouse or bird. So far so good. I do draw the line at snakes. The house is a “Reptile Free Zone”.
I do still hunt. However, now I hunt with a camera. The rifles and shotguns are locked away. Future gifts for the grandkids when they get old enough. I now take them out for walks in the woods. They learn about tracking, stealth, animal habitats and wildlife photography. They seem to enjoy it as much as I do.
Not a bad idea. You might want to try it yourselves. The forests are nearby. © 2016, Jim McGowan
The folks of Harmony County had to endure a serious bout of ‘Global Warming’ last week. All of the different weather channels were preaching doom and gloom about Winter Storm Joshua. (The naming of winter storms is an ego trip by ‘The Weather Channel’ yahoos. No government organization names winter storms like they do for hurricanes and typhoons.)
Well the Harmony County Panic Button got pushed, by a sledge hammer. There was a stampede to the stores. Unlike other folks who clean off the shelves of bread, milk and TP, the local yokels didn’t leave a bottle of beer, wine or whiskey. Even the freelance pharmacists were swamped. You have to have your priorities.
The Flippin’, Dippin’ and Sippin’ Redneck Bar had a packed house. Normally this would be a cause for great joy on the part of the owner. However, when everybody showed up with sleeping bags it was apparent that this was not going to be a normal night. Line dancing was out since the dance floor was snore city.
Fortunately, all of the pets in the area were well cared for. Granny Fannie Fenstermacher even brought in her chickens. Unfortunately, she learned a harsh lesson concerning the purpose of having a large chicken run. Yard birds are very territorial so once they were inside the feathers did fly. Grannie Fannie’s birds put up such a brawl it would make your average cockfight look like a ’70s love-in. Anybody need to stuff a pillow or twelve?
It would be difficult to estimate exactly how much snow fell. In the northern part of the county there were drifts of up to one-half inch. Once the snow stopped people were outside shoveling their walks. Most of them used teaspoons. Ice on roads was indeed a problem. Have you ever seen a pickem-up truck do a pirouette? It is a sight to behold. I saw some of my neighbors whirl by like a mechanized Bolshoi Ballet. Walking was no easier. Tree hugging became a favorite sport and it had nothing to do with nature conservation. Pedestrians became the four gaited mules of legend, “Start, F**t, stumble, and fall.”
The Kilkenny Brothers were thoroughly confused. When they went to the window sill for their morning nap, instead of leaf carpet that I like to call a ‘front yard’, they saw nothing but a glaring white. They came stumbling back blinking and walking into the furniture. I am glad I do not speak ‘Cat’ because their “Meows” had a very harsh tone.
Admittedly, we escaped with just minor difficulties. Our friends in Atlanta got hit pretty heavy. I still am trying to figure out why they always rush out to the I 285 Bypass and park for the night with their engines running. The ditches had the “Standing Room Only” sign out and the electric driver’s warning signs over the Interstate displayed, “What are you doing here, fool?”
As they say, “We will recover, we will survive.” I hope so, I’m almost out of beer. Copyright 2016, Jim McGowan
There is an old question asked of people who speak in a loud voice. It goes, “Where did you learn to whisper, in a sawmill?” Admittedly, things can get very noisy at the lumber yard, but that is just a gentle murmur in comparison to working in a few other places.
Sporting events are always good for volume. One team takes the lead and their fans go wild with silence from the other side. The lead changes and the screaming shifts. This is very hard on the vocal cords which is why you see so many fans breathing into raised brown paper bags.
There is an exception. At a horse race things can go from cheering fans to deadly silence when some nag with 50 to one odds comes from behind and crosses the finish line first. Then you can only hear the ripping of thousands of betting slips and only the cheering of the owner and the trainer.
Kids used to rattle the windows when they were playing or arguing or discussing the virtues of lime overy cherry Jello. I should know, my four munchkins could run down the stairs making more noise then a cattle stampede. But Boy have things changed. Now when the grands come over the give me a tacit greeting, head for the office, commandeer the ‘puter or whip out their iPads and play games. All the while with earphones embedded in their skulls. If a team of firefighters were battling a blaze in the next room they wouldn’t hear it.
Cats are supposed to be silent and stealthy. However, the Kilkenny Brothers are an exception to this rule. I cannot walk into the kitchen without being escorted by the two of them. They set up an ear splitting howl that can only be silenced by a generous amount of treats. Early in the morning is their playtime. The wrestling match and room-to-room chase makes Mount Vesuvius erupting sound like a champagne cork ‘pop’.
Back in the day when I was in the employ of Uncle Sugar the barracks room was a riot of noise. Radios blaring, guys shouting, the fellows from the Philadelphia area singing “doo-wop” songs, pandemonium reigned. However, at ‘lights-out’ all was silent. Then come the dawn the place exploded. The ‘Plat-daddy’ (platoon sergeant) would wake us up by kicking a steel, 55 gallon garbage can down the bay aisle. Trust me, that noise would wake the dead.
The newsroom is awash with noise. Hacks yelling into phones. The editors hollering, “Ten minutes to deadline!” The sports guys ‘yorking’ into their waste cans after their usual liquid lunch and their bookies call. You can multiply this by a factor of ten if the presses are in the same building and they start to print the p.m. edition. However, everything goes silent enough to hear a paperclip drop when some guy in an expensive suit walks in and announces, “I am an attorney with Dewey, Cheatem and Howe. I want to talk to the publisher.”
I suppose that we all live up to our stereotypes to certain degree. So being Irish I do like to sing. However, liking and being good at it are worlds apart. By way of an example, and in all truth when I was a wee lad in grammar school I tried to join the school choir. After the tryouts the nun in charge nicely, but firmly led me to the door and told me that my voice would not be needed. Com’on when a nun gives you the bum’s rush you have to be really bad.
However, this has never stopped me. To this day I still sing, but only my venue has changed. I am a classic shower singer. I have a limited repertoire. It consists of “Oh Danny Boy”, (of course) “Sweet Home Alabama”, and “Barnacle Bill The Sailor” (Unabridged version.) Most of which I sing in the long forgotten key of ‘R’.
During the winter everything is copacetic. The reason being my bathroom window is closed. However, when the weather gets warm and the window is open I have to deal with some very irate neighbors. So it looks as if my singing voice has not improved with age.
Once, I had just started in and again there was a pounding at my front door. I figured I had to take some drastic measures so I came to the door, threw it open and there I stood wearing only a smile. There was a loud “Gasp” from the crowd and a panicked stampede in every direction.
When the Kilkenny Brothers moved in they too had a dramatic reaction. The first time I belted out “Sweet Home Alabama” they came running into the bathroom. “Boss, boss, What’s wrong?” “Did you burn yourself?” “Are you hurt” “Don’t you know getting wet is bad for you?” Needless they were very concerned about my well-being.
Now it is a different story. Whenever they see me grab a towel and turn on the shower they hop on the bed and stick their heads under the pillows. Cats have a well-developed sense of hearing that is easily offended. Sometimes I think they wish I would drown. But the shower is not the only place where I sing.
In Irish saloons singing is considered the norm. However, there is a limit to everything and even I get some sidelong glances through squinted eyes and the older guys usually turn off their hearing aids when I walk in. The universal rule of no matter your heritage, when you walk through the door you are instantly Irish applies. Hence, singing is welcome for everyone, except me. I usually get a warning look from the bartender.
I try to restrain myself. But after a couple of pints and a liberal amount of Irish whiskey I just cannot hold back. I rip into a verse of “Oh Danny Boy.” This is usually followed by me getting heaved through the swinging doors.
Oh well, maybe I should have paid attention to the nuns.© 2016, Jim McGowan
Dear Uncle Seamus; The weather here has been flip-flopping. One day it is a warm, short sleeve day and the next you have to bundle up with everything in the closet. As you might guess I have come down with a world-class cold. What is the best cure? – Snotty in Swansea.
Dear SIS; Every family has some sort of homemade cure. You know; honey and lemon; hot tea with peppermint, snail soup, etc. In reality there is no cure. You have to just ride it out cowboy. However, excessive use of whisky does have a debilitating effect. Just pound a pint of the cheap stuff, no need to buy the good booze you can’t taste it anyway. It won’t cure anything, but you’ll be more numb than a fence post and not care.
Dear Uncle Seamus; I hate to admit it but I am addicted to Facebook. However, there is something I just can’t understand. Why are there so many photos of cats? It seems like every other posting is of some furry wee beastie and to be honest some of the critters are just ugly. What is this all about? – Cat Up in Cayce.
Dear CUC; There is a lot of truth in the old saying, “Dogs drool, cats rule.” It is a well kept secret that cats will soon take over the world. They make ISIS and their ilk look like a bunch of sissy boys. We have no choice but to submit. I recommend that you adopt a cat, get a good camera and do as you are told.
Dear Uncle Seamus; After being retired for three days, I have concluded that retirement will be difficult. There are five dangers waiting to derail this adventure. 1) Total boredom. 2) Eating because you can. 3) Becoming an alcoholic. 4) Spending far too much time on the internet. 5) Sleeping as an activity. What can I do? – Bored Blue in Batesburg.
Dear BBIB; I feel for you, but I just can’t reach you. GET A JOB!!!
Dear Uncle Seamus; I am up to my ears in all of the political advertising that is in the media. You can’t turn around without some politico explaining his position on a difficult and complicated issue in a 30 second ad. What can I do to retain my sanity? – Pounded in Pelion.
Dear PIP; There is only a few rather drastic measures you can take to get away from the political hogwash tidal wave. You can go deep into the woods and find a cave and live there until it is over. You can move to Red China. They only have one political party. You can go to a political rally naked. The police will arrest you and take you to a very secure, non-political place. No matter, if you think it is bad now just wait until primary season begins. So, suck it up buttercup. It is only going to get worse. Copyright 2016, Jim McGowan
It is that time of year when we ‘pave the road to h*** with our best
intentions’. Generally, they are pretty standard i.e. loose weight, exercise,
stop smoking, cut back on the booze (we journalists usually avoid this one), stop playing your bagpipes in the driveway naked, etc.
Not to be outdone and in the spirit of the holiday, the Kilkenny Brothers have made some resolutions too.
1.We will take better aim when using the litter box. This will make the boss happy and should cut back on him using words that would embarrass a dock worker. This should stop him using the broom as a hockey stick and us as hockey pucks.
2.We will stop walking across the keyboard when the boss is trying to write. If the tooth be known we can’t spall reel gud and it interopts his train of think which at best is a local.
3.We will leave more room on our bed so he can have some space. You would think he could find a comfy spot on the floor, but he insists on sneaking up on our bunk at night. So we might as well give him a break. The bad part is that he snores.
4.We will stop getting underfoot when he is in the food room and burning stuff. No matter how many cooking tips we give him he just ignores us anyway. Plus, he is an omnivore as if some raw meat would kill him.
5.Since we are in the food room we will stop jumping on the counters and opening the cabinets. The boss gets bent out of shape when we knock down stuff like cracker boxes, soup cans and junk. He cannot get it through his head that we are simply trying to make it easier for him to get at it. He’s all OCD about it.
6.We will stop sharpening our nails on the rugs and furniture. I think he is
just plain jealous. Did you ever see those blunt things at the end of human
paws? It is no wonder they can’t even catch a mouse. We think the scratching gives the place a ‘lived in look’.
7.We will hold down the noise during our three a.m. playtime. This one is going to be a tough one. How can you possibly be a ‘Sith Lord’ without making noise. We just hope he doesn’t find our ‘Light Sabers’.
8.We will stop sitting on the TV clicker. Boy does he ever get bent out of shape when we ‘butt change’ the program. It is as if he refuses to learn something when we change it to our favorite, “The Animal Channel”.
That ought to just about cover it. We hope we can do better than most
two-leggers. Their resolutions usually crash and burn in less than a month. If you think we are kidding, how would you like to share a double hot fudge nut sundae with extra whipped cream with me?