Sunday, November 13, 2005

Almost Rifle Season

It's almost rifle season for deer hunting in Upstate NY. About 3 years ago I got this intense desire to hunt whitetailed deer. I have no idea why. The thought had never occurred to me, but it became a persistent thought that wouldn't go away.

As an animal lover, a former vegetarian and member of PETA, and as a mild mannered middle-aged mom and librarian, this seemed completely out of character for me. I didn't grow up in a hunting family, and I didn't know anyone who hunted. I was afraid of guns. Yet I couldn't shake this feeling that this was something I was supposed to do. I feel the earth speaks to me sometimes, and in this case, it was something I couldn't ignore.

When you get to your mid-30's a weird thing happens. It's like these buried parts of yourself you didn't even know you had come to the surface, and you can accept them. Maybe you just realize that life is ephemeral and you might as well enjoy whatever weird thing it is you really like, no matter what anyone else thinks about it.

I started reading about it and became even more obsessed. I went to a workshop called "Becoming an Outdoors Woman", and fired a rifle for the first time. I was a good shot. They gave me a little pin as a award for being the best shooter. They called it "the Annie Oakley Award". It said: "Girls with guns have more fun". LOL.

I learned how to gut a deer. None of the other women who signed up for that part wanted to do it, so I did it. I was surprised that I wasn't shocked or upset by it, but I didn't like the smell!

I learned about the natural history of deer, their habits, ways to track them. I'm still learning that.

I bought a Ruger .243 and joined a hunting club. I practiced despite being intimidated by the old guys there who seem to think I'm a curiosity and stand behind me while I'm shooting with their arms folded, just staring. I need to practice more, though. Being able to shoot from the bench is very different from shooting in the field, offhand, kneeling, sitting or lying down.

I bought hunting clothing that I only wear once a year. I wash it with special soap and hang it out in a tree to dry.

I take time off from work for this. But not as much as I wish I could! :-)

I love it. I still haven't actually shot a deer, but I will. Maybe this will be the year. There is a lot more I want to write about this, but I'll save it for another post.

One thing I was to say is: the hours I've spent deer hunting have been some of the happiest of my life. The way I feel alone in the woods, just observing, smelling, listening... it's a kind of alive like no other.

I will try to share some of this with you guys over the next month or so.


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October in Upstate NY is so colorful, but November is beautiful in another way. Maybe I prefer it?

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I think this is called teasel.

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I'm always facinated by the way the light illuminates the dried grasses and seedheads, but it's so hard to capture.

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Can you see the doe? (This is actually a closeup, she was about 100 yards away).

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Here she is!

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Old field grown up... deer can melt into this without a trace. Who knows how many are hiding here?

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Oak leaves are the last to fall.

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Mysterious seedheads....some kind of fern?

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These are rose hips, I think?

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Magical Almost-Twilight

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Milkweed pods with fluff

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Milkweed pods

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Milkweed fluff

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Empty milkweed pods

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

There I go again I'm all verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves. ...

Ok, I just got an email from one of my students asking me for help and at the end of his email he wrote this:

"...I don't want to do something wrong and get a bad grade on
this paper. It seems like out of nowhere I have 5 papers due all
at once. If it wasn't for the information literacy class I would be
totally lost. Thanks for the help."

I literally started tearing up. I'm really verklempt! LOL. I'm such a dork.

I put a lot of work into this class and sometimes I wonder why I do it. The students generally complain about the work they have to do, it's so rare that someone says my class is helping them. Jeez. Thank you kid, you don't know how much this means to me.

Children's Picture Books I Have Loved...

Dear Cjblue asked me for children's book recommendations. Being a librarian, how can I refuse? :-)

Besides, it's getting near Christmas, and you may know some little people who you'd like to read some books with.

Danny is almost too old for picture books now, (which is sad, because I love them so much). But there are still some we read again and again.

These are ones that come to mind for me as really beautiful picture books for kids who are about 5-8 years old.

The Gullywasher (Chaparron Torrencial) by Joyce Rossi
Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch by Eileen Spinelli
Old Turtle by Douglas Wood
Old Coyote by Nancy Wood
The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst
Thinking About Ants by Barbara Brenner
The Lady and the Spider by Faith McNulty
The Paperboy by Dav Pilkey
The Nightingale by Hans Christian, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Also, anything by Joseph Bruchac or Paul Goble.

And of course, we loved various illustrated versions of Alice in Wonderland, Robin Hood, King Arthur, The Wizard of Oz and all the Greek, Roman and Norse mythology. The Bible too.

For littler kids, you must get:

All About Alfie by Shirley Hughes (any of her Alfie and Annie Rose books are awesome, actually)
Only the Cat Saw by Ashley Wolff

and of course: Voyage to the Bunny Planet [BOX SET] by Rosemary Wells

Danny and I are reading a lot more chapter books these days, there are many good ones I could mention, but I'll save that for another post. :-)

What are some of your favorite children's books?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Election Fraud

My boss just told me about this:

"The latest critical confirmation of key indicators that the election of 2004 was stolen comes in an extremely powerful, penetrating report from the Government Accountability Office that has gotten virtually no mainstream media coverage."

You can read the whole article here:

It also has a link at the end to the actual GAO report.

God. Searching Lexis Nexis I can barely find any mention of this. What the hell is wrong with journalism today? What is wrong with our country that we can't impeach/overthrow these crooks?

And what is wrong with me that I sit here numbly staring at the screen feeling blindsided?

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Red-Tailed Hawk

Today was the second time when driving along a certain stretch of road on my way to work that a large red tailed hawk has flown low right in front of my car.

Today it was flying just in front of my windshield for at least 3 minutes. I could see it's reddish brown tailfeathers as though it were guiding me. But to where? Then it landed in a tree. I looked over my shoulder to see it. It's a nice specimen of an adult raptor, very healthy looking.

I wish I could have taken a picture of it, esp as it was flying right in front of my car, but I didn't have the camera, so you'll just have to imagine it. It was cool.

Danny and I just read a good book about hawks.

It's fruitcake weather!

Here's a little quiz for you:

1) Do you love the Truman Capote story: "A Christmas Memory" and read it every year, crying at the ending each time?

2) Do you like hard liquor?

3) Do you enjoy tangy desserts made of dried fruits like "mincemeat pie" (the kind without the meat?)

4) Are you in favor of lots of actual butter and actual sugar in your desserts (as opposed to margarine and some fake sugar substitute?)

5) Do you like an opportunity to overindulge and be a hedonist at times?

6) Do you have a stubborn perverse desire to learn traditional skills that most people would find old fashioned, pointless and too much work (such as knitting your own socks or growing your own food)?

7) Are you brave enough to try things that others make fun of?

8) Do you think holiday parties need plentiful booze in many formats?

If you answered and enthusiastic "Yes!" to 2 or more of these questions, you might be a candidate for my new campaign to inspire a love of FRUITCAKE in an apathetic world!

Yes, you too might, in fact, grow to love fruitcake, bake it each year and foist it upon unsuspecting relatives and neighbors.

At least, I'm going to try.

As a kid, all family gatherings involved booze and plenty of it. Sure, we had many family members who were alcoholics, but that was just part of our charm, as far as I was concerned.

I remember fondly how my maternal grandfather always smelled of Dewer's Scotch, and he always had a glint in his eye and a tinkle of ice in his glass. I remember how my paternal grandmother always smelled of Tanqueray and cigarette smoke. They'd always give me sips. I remember how my favorite Uncle liked to drink his beer in a glass. I would sneak behind the back of his chair and drink the amount left in the bottle after he poured it, and soon he would need another. I'd do the same to that one and after a short time I'd be pleasantly high. I loved the strong rum balls my grandmother brought to Christmas and I associated that taste with a good feeling of mild relaxation and giggling. The adults thought it was cute if we kids got a little buzz on, why not?

So the taste of liquor never bothered me. I grew up with it. And it seemed to me that when my family drank at least they weren't so nasty and angry and stressed out and mean as they were sober.

One year my mom made homemade fruitcake. Now, since she was a nurse, afraid of germs and constantly making us wash our hands with Dial antibacterial soap, I think she might have had some fears about the fact that real fruitcake sits wrapped in cheesecloth in the basement for months. Sure there is lots of rum and brandy and sugar to keep it from spoiling, but perhaps a little more alcohol would kill off more germs? Hell, let's just douse the thing with more booze every time we go down into the basement, just to be on the safe side, eh? Don't want to be accused of poisoning anyone!

So the fruitcake was brought up and tasted, and oh, the relatives found it tasty. Strong, but tasty, and tipsy!

And I got to taste it, and I LOVED it. Because it was sweet and spicy and decadent and best of all, boozy. And I've been dreaming of it ever since. But each year, around Christmas time, when I long for it, I remember that you have to make it in advance. It needs time to cure.

So for any of you who've heard many fruitcake jokes over the years but have never tried real fruitcake, let me tell you a little secret: it's all about the booze. I don't care what anyone says, who doesn't love food soaked in rum, brandy, butter and sugar? What's not to love? :-)

Seriously: don't knock it till you've tried it.

This year, I'm finally doing it. I used this recipe I found online, and I have them all wrapped in cheesecloth ready to go. You might even get one. You never know.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Enthobotany is so cool.

I"m home with a lousy cold today, but I just wanted to share this with you guys:

Following up on the discussion (in the comments section of the "galinsoga" post) of poisonous plants and their potential uses, I found this very interesting article.

Someday maybe I'll go back to school to study enthnobotany. :-)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Today's entry is short and sweet.