fuzzy, black dogs

fuzzy, black dogs
All three of my fuzzy, black dogs -- Bob, Ace and Lilly.

Phillip's Scenic Overlook

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

"Gold Medal Goes to Local Word Nerd!"

I generally don't consider myself a big sports nut. However, when the Olympics roll around, whether summer or winter, I am glued to the television set catching every sport the network is willing to air for the general public's viewing pleasure.

Believe it or not, I once considered myself Olympic athlete material.

I swam competitively for the better part of my younger years, or something like that. My best event? The mile. I loved long distance swimming. According to my coach, I even came really close to an Olympic qualifying time in practice one day.

It seems I had the strength and endurance to be the best, as well as the stubbornness and persistance. You know, it takes a special person to swim 66 lengths (30 in a 50 meter pool) as fast and as hard as they can. No matter how fast you are, it takes a good bit of time!

To be the best, though, requires something else -- you also have to WANT to be the best! I was just out there having fun, much to the consternation of both my coach and my father.

Regardless, I still have dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete. I'm creating a petition as we speak to send in to the International Olympic Committee suggesting some new sports events. In fact, these are sporting events which I would very likely be a gold medal contender.

The first would be fishing, or really, post-fishing stories. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying I lie about the number of fish that I catch or even their sizes, but I will admit to being a writer. As my mother is fond of saying, I have been known to take some creative liberties. While my father seems to like the term 'exaggerate,' I personally prefer the term 'embellishment' or simply 'creativity.'

Terminology aside, the next event would simply be called Sentence Diagramming. I can diagram some pretty difficult sentences and I've discovered that a large majority of the population has never even heard of a sentence tree, let alone a predicate. I can just see the headline now in my local paper, "Gold Medal Goes to Local Word Nerd!"

According to my family, though, I stand the best chance to win a gold medal in Talking. My son likes to tell me that he knows of no one that could possibly out-talk me. My wife claims that I sometimes babble like a brook. Ludicrous, I say. Sure sometimes I may get on a roll about something, but very seldom do I just rant and rave nonstop. I mean, I really think...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Vacation Turns Into Survival of the Fittest

Today marks the third full day of our family vacation at Kiawah Island. Today may also mark my last day -- period! Allow me to explain this a bit.

We were up this morning at approximately 7 am. With my family, if you're not up with the rest of the family, then you have basically missed out on breakfast and the morning committee which maps out the days itinerary. While I avoid trying to affect said itinerary, it's good to know what it is ahead of time.

The itinerary went something like this. The morning would be dedicated to the beach. Noon is always lunchtime. Lunchtime is always transition time. After lunch we would all bike to the end of the island to see the dolphins and have fun if Phillip remembers to bring his cast net. Following that, we would have to have a quick dinner in order to bike to the park so we can partake in a most rousing game of Bingo. After biking back from that, the evening is every man for himself.

Beach time turned into feed the fish time. My father and I both fed the fish for approximately 45 minutes. We both gave up. He fell asleep in his chair and I went in the water with my poor son. I say my poor son because he keeps stepping on sharp shells and cutting his toes. We managed to get back and lunchtime went smoothly.

Then came the bike ride to the end of the island. I became alarmed about the biking when I found out that my older sister trains her kids for these Kiawah trips weeks ahead of time. Her strict exercise regimen explains why her kids were ready for fun while I had to take a nap at the end of the island upon my arrival.

We saw dolphins. We caught all sorts of fun and interesting stuff with my cast net. We did actually have fun at the end of the island until the tide came in.

I'm sure you've heard someone warn, "careful, the tide comes in quick!" It seems like such a harmless statement until you look up and can actually SEE the tide really coming in. My son and I ran like mad for our nearly submerged bikes. We mounted up and rode through almost of foot of water, taking the long way simply because it was the shallowest route to safety.

Compared to our harrowing escape from the end of the island, dinner was a calm, pleasant affair.

Now, I'm no slob. But I'm no exercise nut, either. So far during the last three point five days I've logged what seems like 50 miles on bike. And now they're telling me to mount up again for Bingo?

I'm happy to tell you that I made it to Bingo. I also made it the the ice cream place. At the moment, I've made it to my bed. My only hope right now is that I make it through the night!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Strange Happenings at the North/South Carolina Border

You know how sometimes a strange feeling just comes over you? Just an odd sense of dread or impending doom? I had one of those moments just shortly after dinner this evening. Prior to that, though, my day was marked with strange occurrences and incidents.

My day had started early, as I was heading out on vacation with my family. Most of my family are an odd species that like to wake in the wee hours of the morning in order to get an "early start."

I have one thing to say to that -- 14 year olds. Have you ever tried to wake one? Unh-huh... Good luck.

Anyway, I had purchased a 24 bottle case of Coronas to last me the trip. As the car crossed the state line from North Carolina in to South Carolina (with Kiawah Island being our posse's ultimate destination), the case shrank. Instead of pulling Coronas out of my car, I pulled a case of Coronitas out. Each of those bottles shrank to seven ounce beers! How is that for bizarre?

And then there was the peanut butter and salsa I purchased for the trip. I'm fairly certain I remember putting that bag into the car. It wasn't long after we passed into South Carolina that my wife texted, "U 4 got the pnut butter and the salsa on the counter."

Most bizarre was my secret stash of peanut M&M's. I purchased a large bag for myself that I had NOT intended to share. When I went to retrieve it... Nothing.

I've since interrogated every member of my family over the age of 10. While my mother remains under a cloud of suspicion, no one has reported seeing anything. That bag of peanut M&M's seems to have magically vanished. I strongly suspect that North/South Carolina border...

And then, following dinner, we went out behind the restaurant to look for alligators. I was enjoying my rocking chair when a piece of ice hit me from no where. I determined the source and sent one flying back at my son. That way we were even Steven. Several more flew at me at once. I sent one hurtling back fast and hard, once again, evening the score.

The next series of events as I see them (which may be debatable) are as follows: the remainder of his cup of ice was hurled at my general anatomy. This was done willfully and purposely. Uncoincidentally, my cup of water and ice spilled down the back of his shirt -- inside his shirt, no less! -- accidentally when I tripped. Karma, I think, directed that and made us even.

That's when it hit me. A feeling of impending doom sent a shiver throughout my entire body.

The next thing I know, I spied my 14 year old coming at me with malice in his eyes and an ice water in each hand. I reasoned. I threatened. Then I panicked, turned and ran. As I jumped on my bike to make my speedy getaway, he made his move. He was quicker, and the bike ride home was a cold and wet one.

No worries. This matter remains unresolved and there will be consequences. And when those consequences arrive, they will be silent, swift and stealthy.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Hot Tub Assembly Made Easy

Ah, summertime! I love these hot summer days with the sun shining brightly, beckoning me outdoors. Summertime means food, fishing, swimming, food, freeze pops, camping, hiking, food, biking, picnics, beach trips, canoeing, grilling and projects. In fact, I feel a summertime project coming on...

One thing I should mention here is that as a young boy, I generally had a project lined every year for summertime.

One summer I built a live, working, Burmese tiger pit in the back yard, complete with the pointed spikes lining the bottom. I also seem to remember a summer that I laid out and began construction on  an in-ground swim pool in my Dad's side yard. There was also a summer when I lived outdoors in my blue, two-man tent. I think I was training for my career as an outdoorsman. And then there was the summer I planned my circumnavigation around the globe in my Dad's beautiful, grand sailboat he kept at the side of the house. Oh, the memories that 14 foot fiberglass boat evoke.

It's been quite a while since I've embarked upon a big, summertime project. But I've been thinking long and hard about it. I have come up with a new one. As a kid, I always shrouded my projects in mystery, planning to unveil them upon completion. After years of experience, I may consult my wife before starting my new one.

My plan is a simple one -- I will be installing a hot tub in my back deck.

I've already drawn out my plans and I know exactly where the hot tub will go. The first challenge will be cutting a hole in my deck. Whether with scissors or saw, I've never been known for cutting straight, even holes. That will be an easy fix. I'll tether the circular saw to an eyehook sunk in the middle of the deck where my hole will go. Problem solved!

The next challenge will be the piping. I already know where the water pipes are under the deck. Prior to installing the pipes, I may have to fix the spigot that I managed to break last year (or was it the year before?). I promised my wife it would be done. Maybe I'd best follow through on that one first.

Then I'll hire my awesome brother-in-law to come help me sink it into the deck since it might be too large for me to handle alone. He usually loves to be a part of my fun plans. Perhaps he'll even crawl under the deck and clear the spiders for me so I can help him assemble the piping.

After that, it's just a simple matter of connecting the piping, setting up the pump, bracing the bottom, filling it with water, treating the water and turning it on. Voila! In no time at all I'll be enjoying my hot tub. I can't help but imagining relaxing in it while my 14 year old son waits on me, replenishing my beer.

Wish me luck! I'm off to the store so my wife and I can discuss my potential summer project over a nice bottle of wine. Perhaps I should get two.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Like Snowflakes, No Two Bourbons Are Just Alike

First, the good news -- I've decided I need to make my very own barbecue sauce. I've got several recipes to choose from and adapt to my taste and style. And the bad news? It seems I've picked a sauce that lists bourbon as one of its main ingredients.

I suppose to any normal guy, this wouldn't be a setback. He would simply waltz into the local ABC Store, pick his favorite bourbon, purchase it at the counter and head back home to make his sauce. This, in fact, was my plan as I drove the short distance to the store. Never mind that this was only the third time I had ever even set foot inside the store.

I walked in and looked around. No bourbon. I looked straight ahead. No bourbon. I looked left. No bourbon. I then looked right, and, you guessed it, no bourbon. It wasn't until I turned around to leave that I saw it.

I figured there would be a few different types of bourbon from which to choose. As I turned around, I discovered the mother lode. Bourbons covered the entire wall. They seemed to stretch from the floor to the ceiling and from the door I walked through to the next wall, about five miles away! I started walking, hoping one would "jump out" at me. After 10 minutes of walking, I decided help would be needed.

In hindsight, asking for "help with the bourbon" may have been a little vague. The employee was super nice and super-uber knowledgable about his bourbons. Perhaps a little too knowledgable.

You got high octane and low octane (my terminology, not his, with 'octane' referring to the proof) bourbons. You got all the ones in between, too. You got true bourbons and southern bourbons, which are better known as whiskey bourborns, or just whiskey. You got... He went on like this for a while, blissfully unaware that my fight or flight reflex was about to kick in.

"Now if you'll just step over here with me," he said. I followed. "These are what we call bourbon mixes..."

"I just want to make barbecue sauce with it," I said quickly, holding a hand up. I was ready to make a mad run for the door and my car.

From that point on, things progressed much more smoothly. He asked me questions about my recipe and whether anyone would be drinking the bourbon. I answered his questions and let him know that nobody, especially me, would be drinking it, as my last experience with consuming licquor flashed through my mind.

Within five more minutes, we actually settled on one and I made it out of the store, bourbon in hand, in one piece! And I managed to keep it under an hour, too!

Needless to say, I've since made my barbecue sauce. The sauce failed to receive the 14 year-old's seal of approval. It certainly didn't get the wife's seal of approval or even the brother-in-law's seal of approval. Let's just say it had a strong flavor.

I'll just have to continue experimenting with the other ingredients. I still have nearly a full bottle of bourbon left in the cabinet and I won't be purchasing another soon!