A woman's view of hunting…with men

guns, dogs and birds

Goofball

That completely describes Orso in one word. Ten years old and still a big dope that acts like a two-year-old puppy. He is the one dog I didn’t want. I didn’t want to go see him, I didn’t want to add another dog to the mix. We had two dogs at the time, AJ, our black lab, a super sweet beautiful dog with a steamer trunk full of issues and Charlie, our half breed, half chocolate lab and half German shorthair, who was animal aggressive and a bit unstable.

We had just gotten the two dogs settled into a routine and everyday life was going along fairly smoothly without any episodes for a while which was all I wanted, quiet and boring. Then one day Mitch came home and said that a coworker had a son who had a dog that he needed to get rid of. The dog was a nine-month-old chocolate lab, purportedly with papers and he wanted to “just go take a look see”. I said absolutely not, we had just gotten to a point in our lives that things were settled and quiet, the dogs were happy and content. I didn’t want to upset any balance in our lives.

I knew what would happen if we went. I knew without a doubt once I set eyes on a puppy he would be in the back of the station wagon headed home with us. That was why I fought it so hard and still I lost. We drove up and as soon as our car pulled into the driveway and this ninety-five pound brown clumsy puppy came bounding out of the garage I knew that it was last time that dog would ever sleep in that garage. We loaded him up and took him home. His name was Rebar, which I thought was a stupid name for a dog and that it was getting changed right away. I liked the word orso, which is Italian for bear, and I think it suits him just perfectly.

Orso has always been a big dumb beau hunk, falling over his feet and mine, getting in the way, knocking me down and always sporting a big goofy smile on his face. We didn’t get any papers as they were reportedly lost, so we had to take it on faith that he is actually a Labrador Retriever, though at the time we suspected there was a Saint Bernard lurking around in there because Orso was and still is one giant drool machine. He can sling drool as high as seven feet and with enough velocity to knock a fly out of the air if it gets in the way. He wasn’t much of a hunting dog, preferring to walk behind me and let me knock down the brush to clear a path for him. And as far as the term “Water Dog” goes, Orso would rather ride in a boat feeling the wind on his face than get wet swimming.

He got interested in birds, but instead of pheasants Orso prefers to flush robins, sparrows and his arch nemesis, crows. Out here crows are proliferate, with large numbers banding together to swoop down and walk around searching for food. It’s not unusual to see three or four crows walking around together just a few yards away from us. This makes Orso crazy that these large birds would totally dismiss him as irrelevant and not fly away. He has taken to stalking them on leash then at the right moment Orso will stand up on his hind legs and give them a loud woof to try and make them fly. Because that is so effective the birds fly a short distance then shout back at him.

He’s the one dog I didn’t want, he’s totally devoted to me and now I’m just as devoted to him. Yes, he’s a goofball but he’s my goofball.

November 20, 2016 Posted by | Creative Writing, dog ownership, humor, short story | , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Not Your Ordinary Funeral

Funerals are for the living; the dead don’t care because they are dead. Funerals are there to bring closure to the family and friends. For me the whole process of the funeral, from notifying the funeral home, buying the casket or urn and arranging the services at the funeral home and graveside, is long and tedious and does nothing to aid in the grieving and healing process. I also must admit I am bitter from past experiences with my mother and father’s funerals. So my opinions are quite biased and slanted.

My father in-law died last week, necessitating a trip to Texas for his funeral. This was a trip neither of us wanted to make, we had been pretty much estranged from his family for years. There was tension and hard feelings over the years with his father. Don’t get me wrong, Mitch loved his father, he just couldn’t be around him for any period time without the past being dredged up. Lets’ suffice it to say, Mitch had a misspent youth, part of his charm.

We made hurried travel arrangements, taking Orso to a dog spa and me reserving the hotel room. I found one close to the airport and an hour away from the funeral home, thus keeping his exposure to his family limited and maybe saving me bail money. Our flight got in Austin at midnight and after picking up the rental car we got to the hotel around one in the morning. We ended up getting about four hours sleep before heading off through the Texas hill country to the funeral home.

We parked the car and slowly walked into the funeral home, dreading the first salvo of family comments, but everyone was on their best behavior. We met the pastor that was going to preside over the service, a nice young man who obviously didn’t know my father in-law. We were asked if we wanted to go look at my father in-law, (a ghoulish tradition, in my opinion), something I have never been able to do. I waited outside until Mitch and gone in to see him, maybe to make sure he was dead and not just an elaborate ruse to get Mitch to come for a visit. I’m pretty sure he probably poked him to convince himself his father was really dead.

After the casket was closed we were ushered in as the service started. The pastor began his sermon with a short eulogy about his father, which was the obituary, chapter and verse printed on the memorial, then said we would listen to a song. I was expecting a hymn, but no not a hymn, a song by Neil Diamond, which the pastor said was my father in-law’s favorite singer. Who knew? I looked over at Mitch, who had this look of utter disbelief on his face. I turned my head and looked at the pastor who was sitting there with his eyes closed and head bobbing up and down rocking out to Neil Diamond. It was hard to not laugh out loud.

After the song ended, the pastor started speaking again, saying some prayer. Since I am not religious I couldn’t name one prayer from another. After the prayer, he spoke for a few minutes then asked if anyone had anything to say or share a memory about my father in-law. A man stood up and related a story about the time my father in-law spent on a mine sweeper during World War II relating a story about a man dying during a battle and how interesting the story was to him. I thought that was an odd story to tell and almost stood up myself to relate a memory of my first hunting trip with him, but didn’t.

I would have told about opening day of pheasant hunting in Western Kansas. That for three hundred and sixty-four days, cars drive up and down the country roads with people stopping along the side of the road opening and closing car doors, but on the three hundred and sixty-fifth day of the year, the opening day of pheasant hunting season, a closed-door meant one thing, Pheasant Hunters! So while we were getting our guns out of the truck walking around, the dogs going nuts in the back of the truck, the one thing we always heard from him was, “Don’t slam the doors, it will scare off the birds.” Oh please. I figured that story would not be well received so I kept my mouth shut.

After the memory sharing, another Neil Diamond song and a rocking out pastor. This was getting entertaining. The pastor closed the funeral with a traditional song, “Amazing Grace.” Then came the announcement that there would be a last viewing of the deceased. I almost tripped over Mitch trying to get out of the row and out of the room faster than they could open the casket.

After everyone walked by the casket again for a final viewing, we got in the rental car for the drive to the cemetery. Another surprise, we had a police escort (not unusual) but this one had both city police and county sheriffs as escorts. One in the front, one in the back and one would race up the road to the intersections and stop all traffic. Oncoming drivers would pull over and wait patiently for us to pass. Very touching. I chalked it up to small town people.

As we pulled up to the burial spot there were eleven men in military uniforms waiting for us. There was a flag draped over the casket and chairs facing it. We sat down and the pastor said a few words then turned it over to the Honor Guard that was waiting. Two men walked up to either end of the casket and picked up each end of the flag and stopped, waiting. Another man stood in the middle of the casket to help hold the flag. A fourth man walked up to the podium and spoke in the microphone explaining the meaning of the flag and the eighteen-gun salute. The men folded the flag until it was a long narrow strip, then the man at the podium started explaining what each fold meant. At the last fold, the second man tucked the end of the flag into the folds. Then the six men fired three shots each, and one of the men picked up three spent shells and brought them to the men holding the flag. One of the men placed each shell in the flag and explained what each shell meant, Duty, Honor, Country. The speaker at the podium walked over saluted the man holding the flag and took it from him. He then walked over to my mother in-law, saluted her and presented her the flag. Then one of the men played Taps on his bugle and sounded so soulful and sad. It was all very special and something I had never seen before.

So far so good, everyone was on their best behavior, the day was sunny and hot and just as I was thinking we were in the clear, one of Mitch’s cousins called over to me to warn me that I was standing on a fire ant mound. Super, and I was wearing open toe sandals. Fire ant stings burn like an acid burn and the only thing that works to remove the burn is to pour bleach on the stings.

Ah the hill country in Texas, I am so glad we live in the Pacific Northwest.

November 4, 2016 Posted by | Creative Writing, humor, short story | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ad in the Personals Section

I think I’m going take out an ad in the newspaper. We moved out here a year ago and for the first eight months we spent every free moment house hunting. Then when we found a house we really liked, the next four months were spent moving in and making it ours. Now that we are all moved in and winter is coming, there isn’t much to do. Not to mention our work schedules are polar opposites, I work days and he works nights, I get up shortly after he gets home and he goes to work shortly after I get off work. The only evenings we have together are on his days off, which rotate every week, and weekends together happen only every six weeks. That leaves me alone most of the time.

I could take a class, but the last class I took was a yoga class and I turned that into competitive yoga trying to beat everyone else time. So much for relaxing and breathing, I don’t seem to play well with others. I could take up shopping, but then I would need to get a part time job to pay for the shopping. I could take up drinking, oh wait I already do drink, oops.

Hence my reason for the ad in the paper.

I think I’ll start off with:

Wanted: A friend.

“Woman in search of a friend who likes to get up early to greet each day. Someone who has weekends open and likes to explore new and old places. The friend needs to have a warped sense of humor; be able to poke fun at themselves as much as everyone else. The friend can’t take the world too seriously; enjoy life lightly. There are two very important prerequisites: the friend must like wine and dogs, drinking wine, talking wine and trying new wines. The friend must like dogs and all that comes with dogs; dog hair, dog drool and dog kisses.

The friend must like outdoors, hiking and odd adventures. A friend that likes pedicures, shopping and lunch out is an added bonus. Age is not an issue, the friend can be any age over twenty-one, (sorry must be legal drinking age).

Interested parties apply here.”

October 23, 2016 Posted by | Creative Writing, dog ownership, Dogs, humor, short story | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Hiking at Fort Steilacoom

Today we went on a quick hike at Fort Steilacoom. The place is a bit deceiving at first glance. As we pulled into the parking lot I was disappointed. There were baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a playground and a paved walking trail. I thought here we go again, another boring “unscenic” walking path. Where were the vistas?

We walked along on the path and noticed some people off in the distance that were not on the paved path. We cut across the field and found some dirt trails that led us off into the woods. The deeper we got into the woods, the more serene and beautiful it got.

We plan on going back in the future to do more extensive exploring.

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October 9, 2016 Posted by | Creative Writing, nature, photo shots, short story | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Word on the Street

I like to think that I am in tune with the local inhabitants here and well versed in the street slang. I hear what is being said about us among the locals and it’s not pretty. In fact, it’s downright degrading.

Every morning I get up at four am feed Orso and take him for a walk. It’s always dark on our first walk of the day and normally no one else is about. We do run into the creatures of the night, deer, raccoons and rabbits, all of which cause Orso to stand up straight, lunge at the interloper and bark loudly. Each time he does this, I usually have to have my shoulder put back in place after being yanked sharply. I truly believe my left arm is two inches longer than my right arm.

And every time he barks loudly at 4 in the morning, I whisper sharply to him, “Shh, people are sleeping, shh.”

I’ve been working hard with Orso to just ignore the offending creature; may it be deer or rabbit. He still stiffens his body and gives a halfhearted leap when he spots a rabbit, but he is doing better at not barking. He looks at me right after he lunges at a rabbit to say, “look I’m trying, but it’s not fair, chasing rabbits is what I do.”

Well now that I have gotten Orso to not give chase, the offending rabbit doesn’t move. The other day we were on our morning constitutional when on our return Orso’s ears when stiff and erect, giving me warning that there was something was ahead. Sure enough about twenty-five feet ahead of us on the same side of the street, was a rabbit just sitting there watching our approach. As we got closer, Orso got more alert and readied himself for the attack. Still the rabbit just sat there, not moving.

I decided that the better decision was to cross the street hoping to avoid a trip to the emergency room and an Aflac claim. The stupid rabbit did not move, just sat there waiting motionless, taunting Orso. Even as we drew closer and were directly across from the rabbit, the rabbit didn’t move, just watched us walk on by.

Yeah, I hear the word on the street, “The short human won’t let the giant brown menace chase us, we’re good.”

Do you have any idea how degrading it is to not be feared by rabbits? What a bunch of punks.

October 2, 2016 Posted by | Creative Writing, dog ownership, Dogs, humor, nature, short story | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Mount Rainier

Saturday we drove up to Mount Rainier even though it was raining, because if you plan your day around the weather or what is forecast here, you’ll never go anywhere. It was misting rain with low clouds so we couldn’t see Mount Rainier from the Sunrise visitor center, but the drive was still beautiful.

I left my camera home but took these with my phone.

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September 21, 2016 Posted by | Creative Writing, nature, photo shots | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

We’ve been on vacation this week and again we have gone exploring around the state going to places we haven’t been to yet and still have only scratched the surface. We drove down to Long Beach, Washington and went to Cape Disappointment Lighthouse. Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is at the mouth of the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean. The views were stunning, absolutely took my breath away.

It is named Cape Disappointment because in 1792 fur trader John Meares was sailing south in search of trade locations and turned around just short of the mouth of the Columbia River. Silly man, should have stopped and asked for directions.

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September 16, 2016 Posted by | Creative Writing, photo shots | , , , , | 4 Comments

He’s Going to be the Death of Me

If you find me dead alongside the road sometime it will be more than likely because of Orso. I walk him every day at least three times a day, the first at four am, and almost always it is in the dark. We also have more than our fair share of rabbits out and about along our route and Orso just has to lunge and bark at them in the dark. I try to be very vigilant on our walks watching out for any movement and Orso and his demeanor. If his ears are up and he gets stiff I know something is close by. I do this to avoid becoming a boat anchor or at the very least avoiding rotator cuff surgery.

This morning though I was a bit distracted and not fully on high alert when Orso decided to lunge and bark at something on the side of the road. He thought it was a small rabbit and was determined to scare it off. But it wouldn’t budge, just sitting on the side of the road daring him to cross the street and get closer. As we closed the distance, I saw that it was a rock, a round rock about four inches and not a rabbit. Dumb dog almost dragged me across the road to get to A Rock.

I should have taken that as a sign of what the rest of the walk would be like, but I didn’t. I just kept plodding along. The farthest point we walk to, is down a very dark section of road with no street lights and all of the homes on one side of the road are dark because all the sane people are sound asleep and nothing but dense woods on the other side of the road. As we turned around to head back home, Orso decided it was time to take his morning poop. I waited patiently for him to finish then fished out a poop bag and my flashlight so I could find it and not leave any behind.

After I picked his “elephant dump” and started tying a knot on the end of the bag, I stepped right in some other dog’s poop. Some thoughtless moron left his little dog’s poop on the side of the road and I stepped right in it. I should have shined my flashlight around the area before I took a step. I stood there cursing all little dogs and their owners, because at that moment I hated them all, (even though I know it’s not the dog’s fault, I grouped them all together). That was when Orso either heard or saw something moving in the woods and gave way to barking and lunging at the unseen phantom.

There I was standing on the side of the road trying to get the end of the poop bag tied off and wipe my shoe in the meager amount of grass and Orso was trying to get to some unseen monster in the woods. I’m lucky I only got poop on my shoe and not road rash from being dragged across the road.

The day is off to a bang, I can’t wait until our mid-morning walk and more opportunities to use my Aflac policy.

September 8, 2016 Posted by | Creative Writing, dog ownership, Dogs, humor, nature, short story | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Another Myth Busted!

We’ve all heard them, the statement of “facts” handed down for ages that turn out to be not true at all. Like the one, “If you swallow chewing gum, it will stay in your stomach for seven years.” Well it won’t, it will pass through looking pretty much like it did going down. Or the myth, “Your hair and fingernails will continue to grow after death.” They don’t, but because your skin starts to shrink, it looks like your hair is growing longer.

Well I have a new myth to bust. Mine is much more relevant than chewing gum in your stomach or hair growing on a dead body. I have through research and “clinical” trials debunked a myth that has plagued women for decades. And I want everyone to be forewarned so as not to get fleeced by this long standing myth.

First off, let preface this by saying I have curly hair. Not only do I have naturally curly hair, I have very thick coarse naturally curly hair. If I were to place one of my hairs next to one of Mitch’s hairs, mine would look like a redwood tree next to a piece of silk. So when I say I have a lot of hair, it is an understatement. In order to have hair that looks somewhat presentable, I wash it every day. Because when I get up in the morning after rolling around in bed all night, I wake up with clown hair. I am not exaggerating one little bit when I say my hair is pretty scary to look at when I jump out of bed. It is sticking out in all different directions with curls going up, down and straight out in a wildly uncontrolled mess and it is not brush-able.

When my children were just three weeks old, they decided it was best to sleep through the night because I was so scary in the middle of the night. Orso won’t get up and ask to go outside in the middle of the night because he has seen what I look like after tossing and turning in bed. Suffice it to say, that thick curly hair does not sleep well.

The woman who cuts my hair told me to buy a satin pillowcase, because it would keep my curls under control and I would wake up with this beautiful head of lovely naturally curly hair with every hair still in place. Of course she neglected to say that I had to have every hair in place to start with. I am the poster child of the “messy hair” look and I wear it well. Anyway, I was willing and eager to try something, anything that might make my clown hair look less clownish.

I found and bought a single satin pillowcase, red of course. My choices were red, zebra print or leopard print so I bought the red pillowcase. I thought that I would just buy one and see how it works and if it did, then I would go back and get more. Well another myth bites the dust. I slept on it and woke up with clown hair. Nothing different than any other day, hair sticking out in all different directions, pretty scary for any unsuspecting soul out walking at four in the morning.

Maybe satin pillowcases only work on straight hair.

August 23, 2016 Posted by | Creative Writing, humor, short story | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

As Much My Fault as it is His – Really More

But that doesn’t stop me from being mad and angry with Orso. I know better, in reality it is all my fault, he’s just a dog. I had the best intentions, because I know his history, but I got distracted. That seems to happen more and more these days. I get to blame the drugs, but that doesn’t change the outcome.

We were getting to leave and run some errands, one of the which was to go wine shopping and that alone is enough to make me lose focus. I had taken a package of hamburger out of the freezer and moved it to the refrigerator last night to thaw for dinner. Before we left to go run our errands I checked the hamburger to see how thawed it was. It was still pretty frozen so I took it out of the fridge and started to put it in the microwave, safe from the “Stomach”, but I thought Mitch might heat up a sausage biscuit before we left so I set it on top of the microwave and turned to check on him.

Mitch met me at the laundry room door with the cooler in hand looking for ice packs. I told him they were in the freezer. At that point I forgot all about the pound of hamburger. Squirrel! Orso knew we were getting ready to leave so he was following me around panting heavily and occasionally barking to let me know he was not happy about being left home. Even though I always leave the television on and I always give him a rawhide chew. And finally he is home in the air conditioning with the TV on and the doggie equivalent to a bowl of popcorn, what more could he want?

We drove off, and got about three miles from home sitting at the stoplight waiting to get on the highway when it dawned on me that I left the hamburger out unprotected on top of the microwave. So just to be prudent, we took the next exit, jumped back on the highway, and went home. I jumped out of the truck ran up to the door and unlocked it, Orso met me at the door barking away. I walked to the microwave, no hamburger, I looked inside to check it out, no hamburger. I walked to the living room around the corner from the microwave and saw pieces of Styrofoam, a bit of plastic wrap and no hamburger. It was gone, three miles and ten minutes’ tops and it was gone. Six dollars and ninety-eight cents a pound and it was gone.

I was so angry, madder at myself than him, but that didn’t stop me from yelling at him. That didn’t stop me from wishing all kinds of wrath to fall on him. At the same time, I was holy irate I was also praying that he doesn’t get a blockage from any plastic wrap he probably ingested and then have to take him to the vet and have emergency surgery. That would be the cherry on top, Orso eats our hamburger, gets sick and we have to take him to have surgery.

I need a keeper.

August 20, 2016 Posted by | Creative Writing, dog ownership, Dogs, humor, short story | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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