Friday, October 30, 2009

Been awhile

It's been awhile since I put up pics and spiels of my time with Griffin and without further ado...

In August we visited the Southwest Alabama home of my very good friend Jake Utsey. In addition to his place
being remote, it's a whole other world apart from what the kids and I are we always like going there.
Jake was already in the process of getting ready for hunting season at the lodge but took time out to visit with us and he put us up for the night. We got to shoot rifles at his gun range (yes Griffin has his own .22) as well as play with his children all over the expanse that is Water Valley.

With Grandnan a few weeks later we went to Homestead Hollow in Springville. There were samples of old-style country living, crafts and games for the kids, such as pony rides and a bungee jumping exhibit Griffin was not quite sure about at first. Daddy bought a joke gift for a new friend which features Rebel flags, leather, her name, her pants staying up. I also picked up some locally-made honey which the kids love on toast.

Next was a trip to the Birmingham Zoo. Not having visited since Ronald Reagan was president, I wanted to see the display of animals native to Alabama on land the zoo acquired recently. There we saw a dispirited-looking red-tailed hawk, otters, a yellowhammer (woodpecker) skunks, an alligator snapping turtle, a scrawny-looking great-horned owl, coyotes, a groundhog, a cougar, and a few others which escape memory. But no coons or possums, and I really would have liked to see a black bear...and thankfully there were no captive deer. Oh well, maybe they can be added later.

Animals of the domesticated variety were on tap the next day at Paws in the Park here in Pell City with Grandnan and my niece Carlie. It was a great chance to bring out dogs to meet and greet, so we took Tip along. He loved it, and there was much butt-sniffing of dogs his size and much larger canines, too. Good thing he does not know he is a Chihuahua!

Don't know I have planned for my next weekend with Griffin and Carlie...but rest assured I will come up with something special and yes, there will be photos!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Are you ready for some (NFL) football?

Even though it seems like just last month that my Steelers reminded me why I have been a fan since 1979, here comes a new season that will be here before we know it. And I have the balls to throw out my predictions.

NFC East:
Philadelphia Eagles
New York Giants
Washington Redskins
Dallas Cowboys

It's about time this division was good the way it used to be. The Giants have the best team but it would be great to see Michael Vick lead the Eagles where Donovan McNabb has failed. If McNabb get slack or gets hurt the way he does most years, Vick will be have a chance to reclaim his title as most dangerous QB in the league.

NFC North:
Minnesota Vikings
Chicago Bears
Green Bay Packers
Detroit Lions

Somebody has to win this division. Might as well be the Vikings.

NFC South:
New Orelans Saints
Carolina Panthers
Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

I like them, but the Panthers are old. The Saints are young and learning fast and getting better on defense so I like them better. The Falcons will win more games than they did last year. Tampa just stinks.

NFC West:
Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks
St. Louis Rams

Another division that somebody will win without having to win that many games. Although the Seahawks might not suck as bad as the Rams this year.

AFC East:
New York Jets
New England Patriots
Miami Dolphins
Buffalo Bills

Patriots are another old team and by now, a lot of teams have figured out how to beat them. This year, more of them will, even though the Patriots will go right on cheating. Some people like the Dolphins as the upstart in this division but they're's all J-E-T-S here this year.

AFC North:
Pittsburgh Steelers
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns

It would easy to pick the Steelers because I have been a fan since 1979, but instead I'll pick them because they have the best team by far in a division that's a shadow of what it used to be. The Ravens will be hard to beat, but since they still can't score, good teams will beat them. I see the Bengals mattering this year but I have no idea where that came from.

AFC South:
Tennessee Titans
Indianapolis Colts
Houston Texans
Jacksonville Jaguars

Depending on how Vince Young does, the Titans have enough talent and experience on both sides of the ball to develop into the best team in the league this year. The Colts still have Peyton Manning but they will do well to go 8-8.

AFC West:
San Diego Chargers
Oakland Raiders
Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs

The Bolts are the best team in the worst division in pro football. For some reason I look for Oakland to surprise some people this year...the Broncos could have built a team around Jay Cutler but traded him for one of the most average QBs in recent memory...and there are some college teams who might could beat KC.

Super Bowl: Pittsburgh Steelers 34, Philadelphia Eagles 24

Saturday, July 25, 2009

A perfect day for Salt Creek

It would be hard to imagine a better day than Saturday for getting out, getting wet and having fun in the middle of nowhere.
People consider Salt Creek Falls to be near Munford Alabama, and technically I think that is the closest post office, as the crow flies. But I don't regard the place as being near there, or Talladega, or Oxford...those are just towns you'd find on the map in the same general area.
It's not but about half a mile walk through private-but-wooded property to get to the falls but it's a walk you have to be ready for, because it involves climbing, crawling, and the occasional controlled butt-slide.
The trail starts out pretty much level, then picks up a gentle slope, then you can see how the creek has done its work to the terrain over geologic time: the slope gets steep and there are deep hollows and overgrown cuts in the ground.
A few yards further and the trail becomes increasingly hard to distinguish from a washout, which it does every time it rains. There's a few spots where you have to crawl and work your way to the bottom...remember crab-walking? Thankfully there are well-worn laurel bush trunks to hold onto along the way.
Of course if you're a 7-year-old boy you think all that is just waaay cool and have to be told repeatedly to be careful and go slow. If you're a 4-year-old girl, all you have to do if ask your 6'3" daddy to use his long arms and legs to help you down, and he will.
Once you make it to the falls, you can choose the upper spot which this time of year features only a knee-deep pool that seems to disappear. The smallmouth bass, bream, and darters you can see in the crystal-clear water seem to know not to get too close to the edge of it.
The alternate last leg of the 'trail' will take you to the lower spot. From there, you can fully appreciate the 40-to-50 foot drop over ancient gneiss and granite that is ever-slimy and mossy from the water that imperceptibly is wearing it away.
Then there's the pool beneath the falls...that's what we were there for Saturday. At its edge the bottom has just enough silt and sand to allow your to stand steady as you contemplate jumping in. But venture more than a step of two and you're reminded how slippery rock can really to just on in before you end of taking a quite undignified and ungraceful dip.
We had gotten off easy when it came to July heat could not have been much more than 91 or 92 that clear water was cold and it was easy to remember that it comes out of mountain springs. Griffin told me at least 5 or 6 times that he could swim, but made a point to stay very close by. Carlie was not so confident and insisted in holding on to my shoulders while I swam around on my back...although she did say "I'll be the motor" and added paddling power using her legs.
We checked out each corner of the pool, and it was nice stretching out on the flat rocks and just soaking the place in...we had it to ourselves the whole time...with the occasional shout from Griffin to hear the echo off the canyon walls and gales of laughter from Carlie when her brother learned just what I meant when I told him those rocks were slippery.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gun show weekend and kids

It was one of those weekends where stuff to do with the kids coincided nicely with things daddy wanted to do.
Saturday we went the Alabama Gun Collectors Association show in Birmingham. I first went when was 12 or 13 and have been a gun nut ever since and kept going. By myself I can kill a whole day there, but with Griffin and Carlie with me I have to make it the 'gun show express.
I was lucky, in that the remain happy to go pretty much anywhere, and that there attention spans seemed to have increased since the spring gun show. My first priority was corralling them because of all the 'do not touch' items at the show, but I still got to look around some, too.
Bought a Russian .22 rifle just like the one I sold to the late great Mark Howard years ago, and I was glad to get it. Not just because it is a GREAT rifle at a good price but also because I got to B.S. with the old cat who sold it to me.
Another old gun show fixture, Mr. Emmett Fike, sharpened my knife for me. The Swedish steel is once more sharp enough to cut myself wide open if I'm not careful, and I am glad. I have always grinned when Mr. Fike gives customers his business card, which is printed on a Band-Aid!
Along the way we passed toys and trinkets...Griffin got a slingshot' Carlie picked herself out some especially pretty multicolored marbles.
Back home and we played outside. The grapes and blueberries are in, so we picked and munched down on some.
I had gotten out my box trap (feral cats, coons and possums visit regularly and can be a problem) last week cleaning out my shed and it was still sitting on the porch. Carlie kept asking how it worked and what I might catch in it, so I set it for her and baited it with some cat food. Then she asked, when will something get in it? I told her, if anything gets trapped, it won't happen until it's dark.
I was proven wrong when the trap went 'clank!' We went to check it and there was Tip inside, looking sad and a bit surprised. Hence, Carlie got her demonstration of how the trap worked and Tip did, too.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A day at the (water) park

With high summer in full swing the kids wanted to go somewhere we'd been before, a change from my usually making a point to do new things in new places when they're with me. Since our hometown has still yet to catch up with its much-smaller neighbor 20 miles to the north, it was off to Ashville we went.
In keeping with the sweltering summer theme I bought them decidely bland-tasting ice cream on a stick, the flavor of which was not commented upon because it featured the appropriate cartoom character.
Once at the park I slathered my spawn who will never own a tan with SPF 45 sunscreen. I even bared by lily-white upper body and put some on myself, too, having been reminded on Memorial Day on the beach how quickly and thoroughly I burn when I let the sun have its way with me.
By coincidence a church group was using the nearby pavilion and was packing up not long after we arrived. A gentleman I did not know walked up and asked 'are those your kids?' and I said yes, two of them are, and he said we were welcome to come their food, which they would rather give away than carry home. So we went and tried to get plates of hot dogs, chips and cookies but were flat refused...the ladies there insisted on making plates for us and giving out cold drinks too, which we graciously accepted. After thanking them profusely we ate and it was back to play in the you can see.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

My new buddy

Picked up an interesting tip at work Thursday and I have yet to decide what to call it.

It was busy at work all day that day, one delivery after another to mostly-generous customers glad to get the nutritious and delicious I am proud to bring. Then late in the afternoon I went to a singlewide trailer that was about as old as I am, to a 300-poundish customer who stiffed me. As I left, her Chihuahua got out and made a beeline for the road, but I grabbed him up and carried him back to the residence. 'Dang dawg,' the woman said before thanking me and letting him back in.

Got back to the store a just a few minutes later another order--to the very same house. I got there and she had company, and I guess wanted to feed them, too. Once again she stiffed me (oh well, no surprise that time) and once again the dog got out and took off for the road. So, knowing that Chihuahuas tend to lack the sense to stay out of the road (Mama kept 'em when I was a kid) I picked him up again and took him back to the doorstep.

This time rotund customer said, "Yew wont that dawg? Cuz he seems like he wonts yew." No, I can't take your dog, ma'am, I replied. "Well I wuddunt kiddin, yew want im?

Hmmm I thought, my kids have been after me to get a dog for them to play with when they visit me every other weekend...I know the breed is all right and their poop piles are small, even though I am a cat person from way back, I guess it wouldn't hurt....

"Well if y'all don't want him I guess I'll take him."

"Good lemme git his bag of food for ya," and with that, I had a new buddy.

As for a name, I have it narrowed down to two choices. One is Tip, or Tippy, since he was sort of a tip from a customer...but that one isn't very colorful.

Since I know the breed and how they can be, and their origin in Mexico, I kinda like Pendejo as a name...and if it doesn't work out, a buddy gave me a recipe:

2 lbs. lean chihuahua
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, Mexican style
1 small can green chile peppers
1 can (8 oz.) tomato sauce
1/2 cup chopped onion
two beef bouillon cubes or equivalent granules or base
2 cans (15 ounces each) red kidney beans; rinsed and drained
Shredded cheddar cheese

Sunday, May 31, 2009

DeSoto Caverns redux

This time we did not do the cave, we were just there to play...and we did.