Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Fatherhood means...

Moving 'Ernest, Scared Stupid' to the front of your Netflix queue.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Fish

We like to fish, we just don't seem to be very good at it. Two years ago Bylinda's Father bought a piece of property that has lake access and we like to camp but our attempts at catching a fish had been unsuccessful. Last year we had a fish on a trot line but it worked itself off the hook as we were bringing it in; that was the best we did unless you count a turtle. The Big Guy was the top fisherman during his week of Summer camp, so our spirit of optimism was renewed but nothing prepared us for the Monster.

Bylinda and the boys were out at the lake on a Friday afternoon and I went to join them after work. On my way, I picked up some chicken livers to use as bait. The boys seemed more interested in swimming, so I took the opportunity to try a few casts and Bylinda joined in with our other pole. We were not having too much luck; really just finding new ways to get our lines snagged or tangled but we were having fun. As I was helping Bylinda clear a snag, I felt a pull on my line. I was no too worried, really I thought that she might have snagged my line. As I reeled in my line, there was some resistance. The boys swam over to the dock just in time to see me pull a large catfish out of the water. As I was trying to land the giant, he flipped himself off the hook and dropped back in to the water, almost landing on the boys.

The boys seemed excited, having seen proof that there are fish in the lake, so they took over the fishing effort while Bylinda and I worked on dinner. After we ate, I decided to rig a trot line so I untangled a line of string and attached eight hooks. We baited the hooks and the Big Guy swam out with the line. It was getting pretty dark, so the rest of us headed in but Big Guy decided to try a few more casts with his rod. Just about the time we got to the tent, Big Guy started yelling that he thought something was on the trot line. We ran back out, grabbing our cooler on the way. As soon as we tried pulling on the line, it was obvious that we had something on the line. We pulled a catfish about two feet long out of the lake and manoeuvred it into the cooler. We were all super excited, finally a fish. We filled the cooler with water and went to bed, what a successful day.

I had to run a couple of errands Saturday morning but when I got back to the lake, the boys were waiting for me. They reminded me of a promise that we made them, if they caught a fish, we would clean it and cook it for them. I tried to get them to agree that we could prepare the fish at home but they insisted that we eat the fish at the lake. We have a small chefs knife at the lake, not an ideal tool for filleting a fish and I had not cleaned one since my Boy Scout days. I improvised a work area with a board and 2 logs and got down to business.

The boys were excited as I cut into the belly but they quickly recoiled when they saw the insides and the blood but they came back quick to watch the process. I got the guts out and managed to take 2 reasonable fillets and several more large pieces off the fish. We wrapped the fish in foil with butter and lemon juice and let it cook on the campfire. As we were not too sure about the lake, we let it cook for quite a while. They boys dug in with gusto but the Little Guy decided that catfish wasn't his favorite. The rest of us enjoyed our lunch and we even had a small piece left for their Papaw.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Christmas Swap

We just got back from a lightning fast visit to my father's to find my present on the porch. It seemed that I had already been paired with the perfect partner, when I had to apologize for barely getting my package mailed in time, she responded that she had just mailed my package; so I was excited to see what she would send me.

The first thing that I found was a post card from Superior, WI. I have always been a geography nut so I enjoy pictures from different locales but this struck me on a couple other levels. First, I was born in Normal, IL; so I found it amusing that this was a gift from a Superior woman to a Normal man (female readers may think that every gift falls in to this category). The second way that I connected with this picture was that the postcard showed pictures of a large cargo ship and my grandfather was a radio man on a great lakes cargo ship. I remember him trying in vain to teach me Morse code. I was barely in to the package and I was already impressed.

After checking out the postcard, I moved on to the gifts. The first one I unwrapped was a beautiful picture frame. As a newlywed, I have a few pictures, so a picture frame will be a welcome gift for the foreseeable future.

I was really getting in to the unwrapping, so I did what I think that most people would...I went for the big package. I was rewarded with one of my favorite things, CHOCOLATE. I received three packages of Hershey's products, YUM.

The last package turned out to be an amazing gift. My final gift was an assortment of hand-made cards. I knew from our initial contact that Sara was crafty but these cards knocked me out. They are amazing! There are cards for all occasions, my only problem will be giving any of them up.

I was very impressed with the Christmas Swap. I had a ton of fun receiving presents and even more fun shopping for Sara. I hope she enjoys her gifts as much as I like mine. Thanks to Angie for setting up the swap ans especially to Sara for my gifts. By the way, Sara's blog is great, so I hope all 3 of my readers check it out.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Can I keep the bone?

We stopped up at the lake a few weeks ago, just to grab a fishing pole. The boys wanted to jump in the water despite the fact that we were only going to be there for 5 minutes. We don't normally go in with bare feet but we let them swim. Of course, the Big Guy cut his toe on a rock. When we got home, we cleaned out the cut with peroxide and then alcohol. The Big Guy was pretty fussy and one of the neighbors came to see what was wrong. Bylinda asked him if we could use his pocket knife if we needed to amputate. With out missing a beat the Little Guy chimed in with, "If you cut his toe off, can I keep the bone?" Brotherly love at its finest.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Busy Summer

Summer seems to be in full swing, as the declining frequency of blog posts might indicate. Baseball season finally wrapped up with our five year old playing a double header in ninety-five degree heat. I'm still not sold on the whole culture of youth sports (except Upward). Still both boys got trophies, the Little Guy's was larger as his team came in 2nd in the end of season tournament and generally seemed happy with their decisions to play. I'd call that a small win.
Reluctantly the Big Guy headed off to church camp for a week. The Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee has a small but very nice camp up near Watts Bar Dam. As late as when we were pulling in to the parking lot, he seemed convinced that this was a plot to get him out of the house for a week. He refused to believe that we just thought he might have fun and enjoy himself. After all how could anyone have a good time swimming, fishing, canoeing, learning to shoot a bow, doing arts and crafts, etc. On Friday, we got a post card that said "Thank you soooo much for letting me come". He was the "King Fisher" of his session, catching a total of five fish. Church camp was definitely a big win.

We headed out to the lake for most of the weekend, camping with Bylinda's sister and brother-in-law. It was hot and I can't muster much enthusiasm for swimming in the lake after spending a week at the beach. Still there were some good times and my father-in-law procured some army cots for us, which are an improvement over the air mattress.
We're gearing up for the 4th of July, planning a trip to see the Lookouts, and maybe a trip to watch Chattanooga FC play their last home game. Somewhere in all of this, laundry must get done, the house needs to be kept clean, and we try to find some time to visit with our family and friends.
I'd keep going but I think it's time to start the grill and keep the good summer vibe moving along.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My wife made me do it...

My wife signed us up for this swap

CIJ Swap Button

It looks like it will be interesting and fun!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Decoration Day

My wife's family holds a family reunion called Decoration Day on the first Sunday of June, so I went for the first time today. I think that we were in the Sequatchie Valley but regardless of the location, it was beautiful. Rolling hills with lush green farms stretched out to the horizon. The event is held in a family cemetery which is wonderfully shaded, and the shade trees certainly proved to be a blessing today.

There were probably about 100 people at the event, my wife is related to the family through her great-grandmother who had 13 children, so the potential was there for an even larger crowd. We sang hymns and had a little prayer service. It was lovely to worship outside on such a wonderful day, it was not hard to focus on the blessings of God's creation. One member of the family read scripture and I found some of his remarks touching. He talked about how he only sees some of the people at Decoration Day just that one day every year. That thought made the day that much more special, the only connection that some of that group really have is a single Sunday spent in a cemetery but they do it every year.

We sat down to dinner together and talked. People caught up, plans for upkeep to the cemetery were discussed and announcements were made. When bellies were full, we packed up and picked up, said our good-byes and headed home.

I can't wait for next year!